Jewish Journal

This week in power: Schultz speech, African refugees, Shavuot message, Family Guy

by Danny Groner

May 31, 2012 | 4:55 am

A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:

Speech canceled
A Miami synagogue canceled a program featuring Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz when an influential Republican donor quit the congregation to protest the event, according to reports. Stanley Tate’s protest caused an uproar, and the temple’s president maintained that the speech was nixed over security concerns. “The problem here though is not just poor judgment on the part of Temple Israel but the assumption on the part of many liberal Jews that there is no difference between their faith and their political party,” said Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. Nobody wins over this incident, said Michael Miller at Miami New Times. “The saddest part of syna-gate 2012 is that a 16-year-old girl was scheduled to speak before the congresswoman. The focus of her remarks: how all Jews should admire Wasserman Schultz for her achievements, even if they disagreed with her politics. Free speech fail.”

Refugee riots
Opposition to a large number of African migrants living in Tel Aviv has some advocacy groups up in arms. Violent riots in the Hatikvah neighborhood in recent weeks has the topic of deportation on people’s minds. “As Jews we have matured sufficiently in our treatment of our border policy but we have yet to do so when it comes to our internal policy. We have created our Jewish state precisely for such an opportunity. It is time for us to embrace it and move our society to greater heights,” said Rabbi Donniel Hartman at YNetNews. Something significant needs to change, said Bernard Avishai at The Daily Beast. “What Israel needs are legal changes, now, to extend secular standards, valorize equality in Israeliness, and curb the privileges of the Orthodox rabbinate and educational systems. Mofaz and Netanyahu have the votes, for now.  Do they really have the will?”

Business Insider’s ill-advised article
The popular news site’s top dog Henry Blodget posted a story on Tuesday titled “Why do people hate Jews” that upset many people around the web. By the end of the day Blodget apologized, swapped out the main photo, and scaled the headline back. Many claimed that Blodget was deliberately fishing for traffic and intrigue with his post. “The comments section is basically like an Internet-based Mensa-level think tank, I’m sure by the time that the 24-hour period is over, Henry Blodget will have the definitive, unquestionable reason behind anti-Semitism. I, myself, am waiting with baited breath,” said Mark Dommu at Heeb. There might be some merit to the conversation, though. “Treated with nuance, this and other questions of its ilk can force us to confront hate and prejudice in uncomfortable, but ultimately productive ways,” said Danielle Weiner-Bronner at The Huffington Post. However, not when it’s presented this way.

What’s Shavuot mean to us?
Last weekend’s holiday got some people thinking. Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah. to the Chosen People. “Perhaps the time has come to leave behind this flawed way of thinking, as though we are favored and better understand what’s right for the world, as though our Torah is the exclusive truth across the universe and there are no other ways to experience a revelation, and as though any foreigner who wishes to live in our country is a threat,” said Dina Avramson at YNetNews. Others find meaning in the holiday, particularly in imagining themselves receiving the Torah from God directly. “The experience has had a lasting effect on my life in the ensuing years. Being shaken by the thunder, seeing the lightning and hearing the words of our Torah convinced me that I really did stand at Mt. Sinai. We were all there together. As a community,” said Rabbi Jason Miller in The Huffington Post.

“Family Guy” upsets
Ever provocative and controversial, the “Family Guy” writers have riled people up in an Emmy flier by asking “overprivileged Brentwood Jews” to “let us into your little club.” The show “has made such a knack out of offending people that at this point, a stunt like this is as likely to shock someone as a Madonna performance is,” said Penn Collins at Screen Junkies. “That said, it’s funny to see Seth Marcfarlane and Co. keep trying to raise the bar, possibly just out of boredom and a general malaise.” Others said it wasn’t the smartest ad to run. There’s no doubt that Seth Macfarlane can “showcase his freedom of speech creatively,” said Britt Hayes at Screen Crush, this “isn’t the most clever use of that talent.”

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Danny Groner is a contributing writer to the Jewish Journal. He has worked in journalism since he was a teenager, starting off as an intern for a local publication. During his...

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