Posted by Six Degrees (No Bacon), JTA
It seems like the show will go on for Adam Lambert and Queen.
After a series of rumors about a possible extension of their collaboration, the “American Idol” runner-up finally announced via Twitter that he will be joining guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor this summer at the Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth Park in England. Bassist John Deacon chose not to participate.
Lambert and Queen performed together late last year during the MTV European Music Awards. The performance was highly complimented, which sparked a wave of rumors that Lambert first denied.
Lambert, one of the most eccentric and flamboyant performers in the rock world, also has been active in the Jewish world with versions of Kol Nidre and Shir LaShalom.
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February 17, 2012 | 11:06 am
Posted by JewishJournal
During a Hasidic woman’s menstrual cycle and for seven days after, she and her husband are not allowed to touch…at all. At the end of the two weeks, she’s required to immerse herself in a mikvah, a ritual bath, where she is spiritually cleansed. Watch as Oprah goes inside a community mikvah and learns about this Jewish custom.
February 16, 2012 | 6:13 pm
Posted by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz
I recall the time when, living in Israel, I stood with more than 100,000 Israelis as a link in a human chain. Our purpose that day in the desert was to spread a message of hope, peace, and solidarity. For me and my Jewish identity, this event was particularly formative. For too long, the focus by the religious community has been on the land and we are overdue to solidify the real Jewish priority.
“The people demand social justice!,” chanted hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the streets during last summer’s tent movement. I am inspired by the demonstrations spread throughout the country, from Tel Aviv and Haifa down to Beit Shemesh and Eilat. I am inspired to learn that after a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Israeli medical relief team was first on the scene. I am inspired by the new wave of Israeli Jewish social justice organizations such as Bema’aglei Tzedek, MiMizrach Shemesh, Yahel, Zika, B’Tzedek, Kolot, Atzum, Atid Bamidbar, Elul, Bina, and Hillel.
I am a Religious Zionist. For me, Zionism is the great Jewish ethical project to create a just state guided by Jewish values. Zionism is not fulfilled merely through achieving sovereignty but through building a society of ideals that transcends its own borders and bottom line. The Midrash refers to Jerusalem as ir tzedek, city of righteousness, since the city should ideally serve as ohr lagoyim, a light to other nations. When we do not meet the mark, I feel pained.
Many see the recent social justice movement as an attempt to uphold the values of Religious Zionism. Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, the head of a yeshiva in Petach Tikva, explained his decision to join the tent social justice movement calling for more affordable living for all Israelis:
“The question of our existence as a society of justice and morality is the most important thing. I’m putting things mildly. There is the possibility that this movement will turn us into a more just society. There is nothing more important in religious terms… Secondly, this gives us a chance to break down the dichotomy… between the political right and the economic right. That’s why I think it is important to be part of the attempt to turn this protest into a movement for making amends.”
I am inspired by Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which states that Israel “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture…”
Only in our own land can Jews fully actualize, in such a sustainable and systemic way, the Jewish values of tzedakah, mishpat, rachamim, and chesed (righteousness, justice, mercy, and kindness). We are more responsible when we have a homeland. We are watched and we have no excuses. We control the country’s destiny.
Maimonides, the great medieval philosopher and Talmudist, explains that the purpose of Jewish law is to perfect the body and the soul. In Platonic parlance, by “well-being of the body,” he means the creation of the just state; by “well-being of the soul,” he means intellectual perfection. However, he goes on to explain that the primary purpose of Jewish law and our main priority must be to create the just state, “because the well-being of the soul can only be obtained after that of the body has been secured” (Guide for the Perplexed, 3:27).
Our responsibility is to intertwine our tikkun medinah (healing of state) with our tikkun olam (healing of world). Thus, it is our responsibility as Zionists to further internal moral and spiritual progress within the country and to ensure that Israel is giving this example beyond its borders.
Religious Zionism, in many ways, is broken as factions fall into various forms of extremism. It is time that the foundation of Religious Zionism be social justice and the model just state. While the country has a long way to go to create the model state or model citizen that can inspire the world, we should be proud of how much progress we have made in 64 years and be excited about how much more important work we have to do together.
As an American Jew, I feel a responsibility to bring our culture of tolerance, diversity, and civic engagement to Israel to strengthen the commitments there.
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is the Founder & President of Uri L’Tzedek, the Senior Jewish Educator at UCLA Hillel and a 5th year PhD candidate at Columbia University in Moral Psychology & Epistemology. Rav Shmuly’s book “Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century” is now available for pre-order on Amazon.
February 7, 2012 | 10:22 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
Celebrating the overturning of Proposition 8 – California’s gay marriage ban – hundreds of supporters of gay marriage gathered in West Hollywood on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 7.
The crowd marched up and down Santa Monica boulevard, going several blocks east from the West Hollywood Library to Santa Monica boulevard and Westmount drive and back again. Police cars blocked several blocks of Santa Monica boulevard.
Speakers at the rally included Mayor John Duran of West Hollywood, Reverend Dr. Neil Thomas of Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles, Jon Davidson, legal director for LAMBDA and Diane Abbit, a LGBT rights activist.
The ban against gay marriage was passed in 2008. Today’s ruling, a 2-1 decision by the judges of the Ninth Circuit Courthouse in San Francisco, prompted celebrations throughout the state.
However, because of a 9th Circuit rule, same sex marriages cannot resume for at least two weeks and opponents of gay marriage vowed to appeal the decision, according to Reuters.
On San Vicente boulevard, cars driving at slow speeds in rush hour honked in support. Marchers, many with face-paint, carried rainbow flags, held up signs that said “It’s Time! Marriage Equality” and chanted rallying cries like “2, 4, 6, 8, goodbye Prop 8.”
“This is what all the hard work has gone on for,” said Congregation Kol Ami member Arthur Bernstein, 49, in attendance at the rally. “This is equality, as a California, as a U.S. citizen, as a Jew.
“This gives California an opportunity to model some of the freedoms [LGBT people] get in Israel,” Bernstein, a West Hollywood resident, said, referring to the openness in Israeli society and the Israeli army toward homosexuality.
A LGBT 28-year-old named Dan, who identified as Jewish but did not want to give his last name, said he’s particularly affected by the decision. He married his friend, a girl, who’s gay, from Australia, needed temporary legal status here and was not allowed to marry her girlfriend.
“We are obviously both strong supporters of gay marriage and gay rights and equal rights for all,” Dan said. “The whole reason we’re married is because she wasn’t allowed to marry her girlfriend to stay in the country.”
In an interview with the Journal, Thomas insisted that the overturn is a decision that religious groups can get behind. “There is no one religious voice here in America,” he said. “There is a progressive voice on the side of LGBT…whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim.”
Thomas estimated that there were 300 in people in attendance. But by 7:45 p.m., only a handful of people remained by the West Hollywood Library, and talk veered toward grabbing celebratory drinks and dinner nearby.
Assembly member Mike Feuer, who was represented at the rally by his deputy chief of staff, released a statement applauding the overturn. “Today, a federal appeals court upheld our most cherished constitutional principle, that all Americans are equal under the law.”
February 7, 2012 | 10:17 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
Hollywood isn’t through yet with chasing after Nazis, nor with adapting successful Israeli productions, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
George Clooney, hot off his highly praised “The Descendants” and “The Ides of March,” has optioned, and will most likely star, in the actual story of U.S. and British art experts who tracked down the art works looted by the Nazis, mainly from Jewish owners, during World War II.
The film will be based on Robert M. Edsel’s book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.” The same events were explored in the 2006 documentary, “The Rape of Europa.”
After a rash of Hollywood adaptations of Israeli television hits, Paramount Studios is preparing an American version of the 2009 Israeli comedy film, “A Matter of Size.”
The main characters are four really fat guys who, under the tutelage of a Japanese restaurant owner in Israel, turn themselves into fearsome Sumo wrestlers. David Permut will produce and Jon Turteltaub direct the U.S. adaptation.
The Israeli original starred Itzik Cohen and was directed by Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor.
February 3, 2012 | 11:07 am
Posted by Andy Lipkis, founder and president of TreePeople, Los Angeles
What role could trees possibly play in the survival of Los Angeles…and of cities everywhere?
Today one of the most critical issues city dwellers face is ensuring ample clean water. In Los Angeles, a city that must import close to 90% of the water it drinks, trees have a surprisingly critical role to play in ensuring its water supply and safety.
Thousands of years ago Rabbis, in their deepest wisdom, knew that trees are literally our life support system. In a religion focused for much of its history on survival, Jews recognized early on that when societies stopped planting and caring for trees those trees disappeared, and along with them went their soil, their food and their water. When that happened those societies disappeared. Perhaps that’s why we have, and continue to need a holiday with the sole purpose of remembering and appreciating trees.
Tu B’Shevat celebrates a victory over disappearance, and contains vital wisdom to remind us what’s needed not only to survive today, but to thrive.
For more information, please visit: www.treepeople.org