Posted by Jay Firestone
Jeff Hensiek and Adam Wills contributed to the post.
1) Star Wars, Episode VII:
Han Solo casts the ceremonial first ballot in the first free elections since the fall of the Empire.
2) Harry Potter
Voting by Owl accounts for most accurate election results in history of the magical world.
3 ) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Oompa Lumpas rally to oppose Prop. 32 which they believe may weaken labor union campaign contributions.
4) Being John Malkovich
Voter I.D. laws cause massive confusion inside the latest Malkovich vessel.
5) Back to the Future
Mayor Goldie Wilson campaigns for reelection in downtown Hill Valley. Proposition to fund clock tower restoration falls short of the necessary votes.
6) Chronicles of Narnia
Long lines extend far beyond household wardrobes.
7) Lord of the Rings
Middle Earth voters carefully cast their ballots into the Crack of Doom at the highly active, volcanic Mount Doom in Mordor. Everybody gets a free sticker.
Widespread election fatigue across Pandora appears to have been caused by an overwhelmingly high number of campaign contributions and advertisements from rival Super PACs: "Citizens for Unobtainium" and "Navi for Eywa."
9) The Matrix
Cautious voters succumb to Machine voting. Absentee voters choose either Red or Blue pill.
10) The Wizard of Oz
Munchkinland sees moderate election turnout as Mayor of Munchkin City in the County of Oz faces massive smear campaign for “glorifying the name” of an illegal alien. Exit polls looking good for the incumbent coroner; pundits calling it the "Witch Bump."
Bonus: Video Game - Super Mario World
Mario/Luigi ticket tops polls and has star support from Princess of Mushroom Kingdom. Pundits suggest he may squash opponents, but faces backlash from PETA protesters. Opponents say he has received questionable campaign contributions, both from anonymous sources and grass roots efforts. Favors: Public transportation via pipes, whistles. Opposes: Slow moving terrorists.
5.21.13 at 11:06 am | Using his preternatural smoothness, Justin. . .
5.20.13 at 11:40 am | Proving once again that there isn’t anything he. . .
5.14.13 at 9:59 am | This week on his podcast, Jewish comedian Marc. . .
4.30.13 at 10:58 am | Michael Diamond (Mike D.) and Adam Horovitz. . .
4.25.13 at 4:47 pm |
4.25.13 at 11:57 am | Burton Levin, an 88-year old Sherman Oaks. . .
4.24.13 at 3:15 pm | So, 17-year-old Milken Community High School. . . (863)
4.25.13 at 4:47 pm | (551)
5.14.13 at 9:59 am | This week on his podcast, Jewish comedian Marc. . . (173)
November 1, 2012 | 12:54 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
The man who could walk away with the Jewish vote is giving his to Barack Obama.
In a column in today's Bloomberg News, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his endorsement to President Barack Obama.
Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-Independent, cited the President's policies on climate change as the primary reason for his decision.
"We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption," wrote Bloomberg. "including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year."
Bloomberg pointed out that as governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney supported the science of climate change and pursued policies to address it, but as a presidential candidate has backed off both positions. He writes:
Mitt Romney, too, has a history of tackling climate change. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed on to a regional cap- and-trade plan designed to reduce carbon emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels. “The benefits (of that plan) will be long- lasting and enormous -- benefits to our health, our economy, our quality of life, our very landscape. These are actions we can and must take now, if we are to have ‘no regrets’ when we transfer our temporary stewardship of this Earth to the next generation,” he wrote at the time.
He couldn’t have been more right. But since then, he has reversed course, abandoning the very cap-and-trade program he once supported. This issue is too important. We need determined leadership at the national level to move the nation and the world forward.
Bloomberg stacked up some other reasons for his endorsement: Obama's record on women's rights, abortion, and gay rights, as well as his Race to the Top education initiative:
Nevertheless, the president has achieved some important victories on issues that will help define our future. His Race to the Top education program -- much of which was opposed by the teachers’ unions, a traditional Democratic Party constituency -- has helped drive badly needed reform across the country, giving local districts leverage to strengthen accountability in the classroom and expand charter schools. His health-care law -- for all its flaws -- will provide insurance coverage to people who need it most and save lives.
When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America.
One believes a woman’s right to choose should be protected for future generations; one does not. That difference, given the likelihood of Supreme Court vacancies, weighs heavily on my decision.
One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with America’s march of freedom; one does not. I want our president to be on the right side of history.
When and how did the mayor make up his mind? In a long interview with Atlantic magazine this month, Bloomberg declined to endorse either candidate. In fact, he criticized Obama for failing to engage the Wall Street community, for using polarizing language and for failing to work across the aisle. He still has those criticisms:
In 2008, Obama ran as a pragmatic problem-solver and consensus-builder. But as president, he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction. And rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.
But it seems the fury of Hurricae Sandy, whose Ground Zero has been New York and New Jersey, has reinforced in the mayor's mind the critical need to recognize and address climate change. "One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet," wrote Bloomberg, "one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.
The big question is how a Bloomberg endorsement, coming just days before the election, will influence independent voters, and Jewish ones. Bloomberg is enormously popular among Jews-- notwithstanding a smaller percentage of Orthodox Jews riled by his stand on the practice of metzizah b'peh in circumscision. In Bloomberg Jews find a leader whose politics and positions are fiscally prudent and conservative, but socially liberal. It's these same qualities that led Bloomberg to believe he didn't stand a chance in a Republican primary. When speaking to Jewish groups about politics, I always find a wide concensus that Bloomberg is the politician who they most admire.
So, question one is how will that translate into Jewish votes in crucial swing states like Ohio and Florida?
Question two is what led Bloomberg to endorse at all. He told the Atlantic that as mayor he will have to work closely with whoever wins, so why risk alienating the wrong guy? Maybe Bloomberg, a savvy investor, has decided to play his hunch.
October 15, 2012 | 3:59 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
There’s a particularly nasty post cruising through the Web tubes that attacks the comedian Sarah Silverman.
It was posted on a Jewish news Web site yesterday, but I already knew all about it. Why? We rejected it first.
The writer, Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt, first submitted the piece to me a couple of weeks ago. We had published a previous piece by the rabbi, in which he expressed his disappointment with the singer Matisyahu. This was after Matisyahu shaved his beard and moved further from Chassidic Judaism. In his piece, the rabbi mourned Matis' loss as a role model.
The Matisyahu piece received a lot of attention and traffic, and I got a kick out of dealing with the rabbi, who runs a kosher beef cattle ranch in Texas—not your average Hasid.
But his piece on Silverman went over the line.
He attacked Silverman for her political activism. Silverman has made a series of YouTube videos using her brand of ribald humor to take on Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, obstruction of voting rights, and other causes. Her views are fair game: she dishes it out, she can take it.
[WATCH: Sarah Silverman slams voter ID laws]
What bothered me is that from there, unlike in his Matis piece, Rabbi Rosenblatt gets personal. He finds Silverman’s videos “vulgar” and “sickening.” And he decides that Silverman’s motivation arises not from political insight or Jewish values, but from a personal void, a lack of Jewish values, of children, of marriage, of love.
On September 28 he sent me the piece. On Oct 3, I wrote back:
It's a bit ad hominem and presumptuous, and therefore a bit cruel, for my taste. Hard to psychoanalyze people without at least speaking to them once.
I rejected the piece even though I knew two things: 1) if we posted it our site would get a big bump in traffic, lots of attention, lots of comments and 2) it would undoubtedly be red meat thrown to the carnivores who constantly accuse the JewishJournal.com of being too liberal. A piece slamming Sarah could serve as “balance.”
Indeed, I was right about the first point. The piece, which the right-wing Orthodox site jewishpress.com picked up, has received a lot of traffic. Even Jeffrey Goldberg, who writes a Jewish journalism blog over at The Atlantic, linked to it, albeit, as he pointed out, sarcastically. But a hit is a hit: Google Analytics records clicks, not degrees of sardonic distance.
And the piece is sure to gain even more attention, since Sarah Silverman’s father took the time to respond to it with this funny, true and angry post:
Hey asshole: Daughter #1 is a rabbi. Not by your standards. She's reform. How dare she, a lowly woman think god wants her to be a rabbi, created from a mere rib. Her hubby, three times nominated for a nobel peace prize was listed by the Jerusalem Post as the 49th most influential jew in the world built the worlds largest solar field in israel. By the way, Sarah was also on the list. I missed your name. Oldest granddaughter is serving in the Israel Defense Forces. I'm sure you also served.Oh I forgot the orthodox don't do that. You don't fuck with my family.
Go Dad. So do I regret my decision? Wouldn’t it have been nice if all this hoopla translated into hits at jewishjournal.com?
It’s a competitive Internet news market. We all need high-traffic content. Anyone who writes anything can get it posted somewhere: so why not our site? And content like Rosenblatt’s is free, and space is cheap. Every writing resume I’ve reviewed for the past two years lists, “Contributor to HuffingtonPost.com” under Work Experience, as if that qualifies either as work or experience.
But we do take both parts of our name, jewishjournal, to heart. You can’t write about things you have no knowledge of—in this case a young woman's personal life and beliefs. And you can’t spread damaging conjecture and perhaps lies about someone. And just because you disagree with someone’s politics doesn’t mean you know their character, or have the right to demean it.
None of that is good journalism. And I’m no rabbi, but it doesn’t strike me as Judaism, either.
Rob Eshman is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of jewishjournal.com. You should follow him on Twitter, too.
September 26, 2012 | 8:47 pm
Posted by Susan Freudenheim
Yom Kippur afternoon at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 5773, offered a mix of politics, power and menchlichkeit. The Reform synagogue invited the governor of California for an afternoon chat before the congregation on the holiest day of the year. It was a way to pass the long hours of the latter part of a thoughtful day, offering a merging of information and progressive politics, as well as a chance for Gov. Jerry Brown to put in multiple plugs for his Prop. 30 ballot initiative that hopes to raise taxes to fund schools and balance the state’s foundering budget.
Beginning his remarks with a history lesson on the adventurous spirit of California’s founding and of the story of the Gold Rush, Brown’s erudition ended with a quotation from the poet Robert Frost. Along the way he talked of his four years of study to become a Jesuit priest, and of the difference between valuing repentance – the theme of the day – and politics, an arena in which, he said “There is no particular reward for acknowledging sin of any kind, because it will be replayed endlessly.”
Brown said California’s early spirit is “still with us,” citing the oil, movie, alternative energy and technology industries that have since come to define the state. Calling it a place of “creativity and invention,” he remarked that California is also a place that “creates some fear and some antipathy around the country.”
His words of optimism were marked by a decided advocacy for Prop. 30, which includes a 1/4-cent increase in the sales tax, and an income tax increase for high earners. Prop 30, he said, “solves a huge problem,” raising money for schools, which, he said, will face huge cuts if it does not pass in November.
Brown nudged the Beverly Hills crowd to help get the measure passed, evidence of why he’d come. It “will take a little money – hopefully from some of the people in this room. Not too much, but,” he said to great applause, “it feels better to give.”
The governor was introduced by Rabbi Laura Geller, and then by movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg – a longtime congregant. Katzenberg told the standing-room-only sanctuary the Jewish value of tikkun olam on this day was being applied to “tikkun California –how we make California a better place.”
The governor’s approximately half hour speech was followed by a conversation conducted by Geller and Rabbi Jonathan Aaron, posing questions collected from congregants prior to the event.
Asked by Aaron to distinguish Prop. 30 from Prop. 38, a second tax hike measure facing voters on the same ballot in November, Brown made clear that “the problem is, the state’s general fund has a hole, and Prop. 30 plugs it, and Prop. 38 does not.” The former gives money to the general fund to be directed to schools, including public schools and universities, but also allows for funding public health programs, as well as safety, welfare and prisons. Prop. 38 would fund public schools directly, including preschools through high school, but would leave higher-education institutions, among other programs, potentially facing large cuts.
Under California law, even if both measures are approved, only one could take effect, because they are in conflict.
Geller also asked about the “Divest from Iran Act” sponsored by Assembly members Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley) that Brown signed into law this week.
“I wanted California to send a message of disapproval to Iran. It’s the least I could do,” the governor told the crowd in another applause line. He spoke on the same day that Iranian President Ahmadinejad addressed the United Nations, saying (through a translator): “The current abysmal situation of the world and the bitter incidents of history are due mainly to the wrong management of the world and the self-proclaimed centers of power who have entrusted themselves to the devil.”
In closing, Geller posed one last question, which she said was meant as a surprise. She asked the governor, a former seminarian, to compare his current job to that of a congregational rabbi.
“It is more difficult to pastor a congregation than to shepherd a state,” the two-time governor responded spontaneously with a smile. “You have to see them in person.”
Then, he added, “it’s also more rewarding.” His final words were to quote Robert Frost. “Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting’” and, the governor said, paraphrasing the late poet, it “ends in surprise.”
September 13, 2012 | 7:13 pm
Steven Klein, consultant to the film, "Innocence of Muslims" spoke to Reuters about his involvement with the director, "Sam Bacile" and tragedy resulting in the Middle East.
September 12, 2012 | 8:38 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Here are the Top 5 Reasons I instantly knew that the incendiary YouTube movie “The Innocence of Muslims” wasn’t produced by a Jew.
1) It was terrible. No “Jewish Israeli film producer” would ever destroy his or her reputation putting out such garbage, no matter what his or her political beliefs.
2) Associated Press initially quoted the filmmaker as saying he raised $5 million dollars from to make the film. The movie looks like it was shot for $29.95, with actors who were clearly working for snacks, and not even worth that.
3) The filmmakers said he raised the $5 million from “100 Israeli Jews.” Please. It’s close to impossible to raise that kind of money in a short time from anyone—and certainly not from sophisticated people who’d want to see what they're getting for their money.
4) The filmmaker said his name was “Sam Bacile.” No Israeli or Jew our reporters Danielle Berrin and Jonah Lowenfeld interviewed had ever heard of him. Only someone who doesn’t know the Jewish community, who thinks of it as a mythic collection of rich, filmmaking, real-estate selling non-beings called, “Jews,” would think anyone could operate in this community without making a hundred connections, going to a thousand parties and banquets, getting on dozens of lists, making friends and enemies and developing a <reputation. Anybody who thinks 100 Israeli Jews would give $5 million to a stranger never heard the Hebrew word frier-- sucker.
5) The film mocked the theology of Islam—which Jews don’t care about. The Jews who are actively anti-Muslim—and there are a hardcore handful-- focus their criticism on what they see as the Koranic roots of Islamic intolerance and violence. They don’t care about the truthfulness of the Koran’s stories—they just assume all religious stories are, to put it mildly, a stretch. They don’t care what stories Muslims tell themselves—I mean, who are we to make fun of telling stories-- they just want it to leave non-believers in peace.
[BONUS REASON #6]: The film mocked Mohammed as a homosexual. That set off all my kooky right-wing Christian alarm bells. Jews consistently show the highest levels of approval for gay rights. In the most recent Public Religion Research Institute poll last April, 81 percent of Jews supported gay marriage. Could you find 100 Jews to support a film full of anti-homosexual scenes? In Hollywood? Please.]
It turns out I was right. Late this afternoon, AP sleuthed out the real “filmmaker,” a 55 year-old Coptic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
I don’t blame Nakoula for the riots and murder of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Islamic extremists did that—and these are people who committed a far greater atrocity on September 11 without a single bad video to spur them on.
But I do accuse him for trying to hide behind “the Jews.” Nakoula engaged in a pathetic sort of blood libel, blaming Jews for a video that led to the deaths of innocents.
Some people have asserted it doesn't matter who made the video, what matters is the world condemn the violent extremists who used it as the latest excuse to rampage and terrorize.
But claiming Jews made it only ensures extra outrage, and further endangers innocent people-- people who would have nothing to do with garbage of this sort. With friends like Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who needs enemies?
August 27, 2012 | 11:35 am
Posted by Ryan Torok
Approximately 1,000 people are singing the late songwriter Debbie Friedman’s version of Lech-Lecha. Craig Taubman, musician and composer, leads them along. In a moment, Taubman asks the crowd to stop singing—the large band accompanying him continues to play a gentle instrumental—and he calls everyone’s attention to Friedman’s parents, who are sitting in the audience. Taubman asks everybody who are sitting in the first eight rows to turn away from the stage and face the center. He asks Friedman’s mother, who is seated in the lower-center seating area, to raise her hand.
Friedman wrote the song that you are all singing, Taubman says. I’m standing on the shoulders of my parents, but I’m also standing on the shoulders of Debbie Friedman, Taubman says.
The crowd—a mix of old and middle-aged couples, young professionals and parents with their children—applaud Friedman’s parents, and everyone continues singing Lech-Lecha.
It’s one of the last songs of the evening—an approximately two-and-a-half hour music-filled Shabbat service called “A Mid-summer Night Shabbat,” at the Ford Amphitheater, on Friday, Aug. 24. By the end of the festivities, there are more than 25 artists, performers and presenters on stage, including Taubman, Bill Kaplan, executive director of the Shalom Institute; Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom; musicians Josh Nelson, Shany Zamir and Ari Herstand; Jewish-yoga instructor Zack Lodmer; artist Amir Magal and other performers and presenters.
Bill Kaplan, executive director of the Shalom Institute, co-organized the event with Taubman, founder of Craig N’ Co, under the auspices of cultural series the Big Jewish Tent. Founded in 2011, the Big Jewish Tent facilitates themed, large-scale recreational community events, hoping to build bridges. Past Big Jewish Tent events include the Tu B’Shevat Nature Fest; Spavuot, a mind-body-Torah Shavuot festival and the Jewish County Fair.
During Mid-Summer Night Shabbat, three simultaneous Shabbat celebrations took place across Los Angeles last Friday. According to Kaplan, who also served as master of ceremonies at the Ford, over 2,000 people in total attended the three events, including a Shabbat picnic and concert at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills and Shabbat-themed family-friendly activities at Westward Beach/Point Dume in Malibu.
Several synagogues, including Temples Aliyah, Ramat Zion, Judea, Kol Tikvah, Congregation Or Ami, Shomrei Torah Synagogue and Valley Beth Shalom and the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance gathered for the event in Woodland Hills.
At the Ford on Friday, the concert followed the structure of a Shabbat service. Taubman and co. led, and the crowd participated in, the various traditions, prayers and blessings of Shabbat, including a pre-service Kiddush, the welcoming of the Shabbat bride and musical renditions of the shema, amidah and aleinu. Many in the crowd arrived early and dined on food and wine at the Ford’s patio areas, and many drank at their seats.
“Just like the shul I grew up in, right?” Feinstein joked. Throughout the evening, Taubman and his and Feinstein switched off taking the reins. Feinstein told stories and jokes and asked audience to forget about the daily struggles of the Los Angeles workweek, to let go of their inner kvetch and to enjoy the wine, the company and the unusual setting and finally, to embrace Shabbat.
“You’re in the Ford-freaking-amphitheater on a Friday night!” he said.
August 7, 2012 | 1:17 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
In the wake of Sunday’s shooting in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six dead and three more wounded, over 2,000 people have submitted e-notes expressing solidarity for Wisconsin’s Sikh community, including “Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Unitarian Universalists, atheists, and agnostics,” according to Groundswell, a multi-faith social action movement that is coordinating the letter-writing campaign.
Spotlighting Groundswell’s efforts, Rabbi Sharon Brous, spiritual leader of progressive Jewish community IKAR, is calling on people to participate in Groundswell’s campaign by sending in notes of “condolences and blessings for healing,” directing people to Groundswell’s website.
A third generation Sikh American and the author of an Aug. 6 CNN op-ed about the shooting, Kaur is delivering the notes in person when she visits Wisconsin this week.
In the message posted to IKAR’s site, Brous also condemns the “reckless proliferation of guns in this country, which make it absurdly easy for mass shootings to take place,” including the recent Aurora, Colorado shooting. She refers to Kaur as a “friend” and an “exceptionally talented young woman.” Kaur’s 2008 documentary, “Divided We Fall,” documented Kaur’s travels across the country as she discovered stories related to post-9/11 racism and hate crimes.
In calling attention to this past weekend’s tragedy, Brous joins several other local and national organizations that have issued statements of outrage at the actions of the alleged shooter—Wade Page, an army veteran with ties to the white supremacist movement, whom police officers shot dead on the scene – including the Board of Rabbis of Southern California; the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders and Bend the Arc, a Jewish Partnership for Justice.