Posted by Rob Eshman
If Daily Beast/Newsweek launched a Top Jewish Editors List, my friend Ami Eden would surely be way up there. But the editor-in-chief of JTA is just a bit off in his comments on the annual Top Rabbis List that Daily Beast puts out.
In his blog post today on that list, he refers to the March 15 Jewish Journal cover story, “Is the rabbis list legit?,” and summarizes the flaws our writer Danielle Berrin uncovered in the execution and, as many critics said, the very idea of such a list.
But Eden then offers an unwarranted and gratuitous knock against Berrin.
“All valid points,” he writes of the concerns Berrin’s sources raised. “But… I think we’re losing sight of the bigger picture — Tina Brown publishes an annual top rabbis list. How cool is that? (If Berrin had thought of it, the L.A. Jewish Journal would be doing it every year!).”
Two things: As Berrin clearly established, this is not in any convincing way “Tina Brown’s” list or Newsweek’s — it is the creation of people outside those organizations, who then planted it at Newsweek (which was taken over by Brown’s Daily Beast). Newsweek lent the list its brand and journalistic credibility, without doing any actual vetting. In other words, it saw a chance for attention and traffic without doing the actual work.
List creator Jay Sanderson, now President of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, put it this way to Berrin: “When I see ads that say, ‘Newsweek’s number whatever rabbi,’ it makes me laugh. It makes me feel like, ‘I guess I’m Newsweek,’ because Newsweek didn’t vet this list.”
As utterly exciting as the prospect may seem to Tina Brown fans (I’m more of an Arianna guy myself), I suspect her entire thought process behind posting the list was, “Sure, traffic, whatever.”
Second point, which is really the thrust of this blog post: Eden’s swipe at Danielle Berrin. “(If Berrin had thought of it, the L.A. Jewish Journal would be doing it every year!)”
I’m not sure why Am would demean a serious piece of journalism as sour grapes, but he is simply wrong on the facts.
The fact is, when Sanderson left his position as CEO of Jewish Television Network, where he created the Top Rabbis List, he offered it to the Jewish Journal. I thought about it for two seconds and said we’re not interested. As much as I like traffic and buzz, I really do believe the list ultimately demeans the rabbinate and hurts rabbis. I didn’t see a way to do it that was credible.
(As for Danielle Berrin’s ideas, she has no problem coming up with several great ones each week. )
The Forward, under another Top Jewish Editor Jane Eisner, has gotten closer with its new 36 Most Inspiring Rabbis, which it just released this week. That list is compiled from nominations by readers. The stories are well-researched and well-written, and worth your time.
Even then, “Most Inspiring?” If there’s a Jew who doesn’t believe his or her rabbi is inspiring, it’s time for another rabbi. If you don’t believe your rabbi is the number 1 for you, keep looking.
The Jewish Journal does do an annual list, but it’s not ranking rabbis. Each December we compile The Mensch List, ten unheralded people in our community who give tirelessly, creatively and often thanklessly of themselves to improve the lives of others. This year the Los Angeles City Council honored our “Mensch List” for its service to the city. We even got a cool plaque, at taxpayer expense.
If only Tina Brown had thought of that.
You can read Danielle Berrin's full investigation into the Newsweek Top Rabbis List here.
Follow Rob Eshman on Twitter @foodaism.
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. . .
4.24.13 at 3:15 pm | So, 17-year-old Milken Community High School. . . (743)
4.25.13 at 4:47 pm | (486)
5.14.13 at 9:59 am | This week on his podcast, Jewish comedian Marc. . . (170)
March 20, 2013 | 1:22 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
“I’m Jewish, 5’9” on a really good day, and I can’t dance. At all,” Milken Community High School senior Jake Davidson said, in a video where he asked Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton to join him at his prom in May.
Upton tweeted with a maybe, saying she’d check her schedule.
NBC's Today Show got wind of it, and things got interesting.
And then The Onion weighed in with a brief titled:
"Scarlett Johansson Immediately Rejects Heartwarming Prom Invite From High School Student."
March 14, 2013 | 11:44 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
If the Jewish world was waiting for a sign from Pope Francis regarding his relations with its community, it didn't take long.
In his first day as Pope today, Francis I wrote to the Chief Rabbi of the Rome Jewish Community, Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, inviting him to his Inauguration on March 19 , and expressing his hope of a renewed collaboration with the Jewish Community.
"I strongly hope to be able to contribute to the progress that the relations between Jews and Catholics have known since the Second Vatican Council," the Pope wrote. " in a spirit of renewed collaboration and in the service of a world that can always be in more harmony with the will of the Creator."
Rome-based Vatican observers called the missive a good start. They expect Rabbi Di Segni to reciprocate the invitation, and will invite Pope Francesco to visit him in the Synagogue, following the tradition started by Chief Rabbi Toaff with John Paul II, and continued by Rabbi Di Segni with Benedict XVI last year.
"As far as I have heard and read in the few minutes since he was elected pope, he has shown deep signs of respect and friendship towards the Jews," said Rabbi Di Segni told Reuters news agency. "It's a good starting point."
In his native Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, had close relationships with Jewish leaders.
“In the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, the widely shared impression is that he’s very friendly, that the cardinal was determined to have a cordial relationship with the Jewish community,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said.
Rob Eshman is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @foodaism.
March 12, 2013 | 4:02 pm
Yuval and Liran, a gay Israeli couple, want to have a child -- and they are using any help they can get, even from Hollywood. Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne have joined a campaign to help the couple by posting photos of themselves holding a sign in Hebrew showing their support.
A Wider Bridge, an organization that connects the Israeli and American LGBT communities, first brought the story of Yuval and Liran to the Internet. The couple started a campaign to legalize surrogacy for gay couples and are trying to raise money to have their baby in the United States.
The “Fashion Police” stars joined the campaign, posting photos of themselves holding A Wider Bridge signs on the organization’s site that read, “We want them to have a baby too” in Hebrew.
March 12, 2013 | 3:50 pm
LeBron James sent out his save the dates for his wedding, the weekend of Sept. 13 -- exciting stuff for the Miami Heat superstar's friends. Except the Jewish ones, that is -- the date happens to be Yom Kippur.
TMZ obtained a copy of the invitation and notes that James has plenty of Jewish friends, inlcuding “Rabbi to the Business Stars” Yishayahu Yosef Pinto.
No word on whether James will push off his marriage to fiance Savannah Brinson to save the Jews. Maybe he's thinking he can save money on the food.
March 6, 2013 | 4:46 pm
Posted by Andrew Dugan
March 5, 2013 | 4:06 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Los Angeles Police Department officers pursuing burglary suspects in the Sepulveda Pass on March 5 led the Milken Community High School to briefly lock down its campus on Tuesday afternoon.
The three burglary suspects, who were reportedly spotted by a neighbor in Woodland Hills around 1pm, first attempted to flee in a car on the 101 and 405 freeways, but after being pursued by police, exited the car on foot and ran into a thick section of brush on the west side of the 405 Freeway, near the Milken School.
The school ordered the lockdown before 2:30 pm and, in accordance with school procedures, the 740 students on campus, as well as teachers and staff, remained in their classrooms and offices, Sheryl Schreiber, Milken's Executive Director for Institutional Services, said.
"The school did have emergency procedures," Schreiber said in an interview on Tuesday afternoon. "We are happy that no one was injured and Milken was not affected, but we are also happy to say that our emergency procedures were in place and were abided by."
By 3:15 pm, the campus was back to its normal operations. "All kids are proceeding to their afternoon activities as usual," Schreiber said.
According to NBC4, LAPD caught the first of three suspects shortly before 3 p.m. At that time, LAPD officers, including canine units and off-road units, were continuing the search for the remaining two suspects.
February 25, 2013 | 2:58 am
Posted by Tom Tugend
Sunday evening’s Academy Awards ceremony wasn’t all that great for the Jewish and Israeli film talent present, but it could have been worse.
“Lincoln,” the early frontrunner in the Oscar race avoided a near total shutout with a best actor trophy for Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role.
The half-Jewish actor is the son of actress Jill Balcon, whose parents immigrated to Britain from Latvia and Poland.
The film’s other top nominees, director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner, were less fortunate and went home empty handed.
On the brighter side, “Argo,” which chronicles the rescue of six American hostages during the Iranian Revolution, came on strong at the finish, wrapping up the best picture title.
Grant Heslov, the picture’s co-producer with George Clooney and star Ben Affleck, accepted the golden statuette and film editor William Goldenberg did likewise in his category.
Two documentary features centering on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were among the five finalists in their category, but failed to garner the top prize.
In “The Gatekeepers,” Israeli director Dror Moreh interviewed six former heads of the Shin Bet anti-terrorist agency, none of whom had any good words for the policies of the primer ministers under whom they served.
The second entry, “5 Broken Cameras,” jointly directed by Palestinian Emud Bernat and Israeli Guy Davidi, viewed the confrontation between Palestinian villagers on the West Bank and Israeli soldiers protecting a new settlement.
Carrying off the documentary Oscar was the predicted favorite “Searching for Sugar Man,” about an American folk singer unrecognized in his own country, who becomes an idol in South Africa.
In the recent past, Israeli movies have scored well in the foreign-language film competition, making the top five shortlists in four of the last five years.
This time around, Israel was represented by “Fill the Void,” a sensitive portrayal of life and love in a haredi (fervently Orthodox) enclave in Tel Aviv.
Probably none of entries from 71 countries could have topped the winner, the superb Austrian film “Amour,” which examines the marriage of an elderly French couple, tested when the wife suffers a stroke.
However, “Fill the Void” was eliminated in the first cut and part of this disappointing showing can probably be attributed to the film’s anemic promotion effort.
While less accomplished films from other countries staged press screenings and arranged interviews with their directors and actors, the Israeli movie’s producers and distributors failed to make such rudimentary efforts, treating their product almost like a national security secret.
On Oscar night, in the absence of Billy Crystal and other Jewishly attuned hosts of previous years, first-time master of ceremonies Seth MacFarlane stayed away from the typical Jewish Hollywood jokes during the introductory monologue.
The show made up for this omission in the second part of the evening, when Ted, the X-rated stuffed teddy bear of the same titled movie, made an appearance. In a skit, Ted “revealed” that his birth name was Theodore Shapiro and he was actually born Jewish, which he figured would assure his acceptance into Hollywood’s ranks.
He followed up later with a joke about Hitler, of all people, and a puzzling shtick involving the von Trapp family of “Sound of Music” fame and a black-uniformed SS man.
After that, it was a relief to welcome back Barbra Streisand in a soulful rendition of “The Way We Were” in a tribute to the late composer Marvin Hamlisch.