The Shmooze


Groupies Gearing Up for Louisville ‘Lebowski Fest’

By Max Gross

As every “Big Lebowski” devotee knows, you don’t roll on Shabbes. So when Will Russell and Scott Shuffitt announced plans to have the Second Annual Lebowski Fest on a Friday night, fans of the 1998 comedy were aghast.“We kept getting e-mails saying, ‘You can’t have this on Shabbes,’” Russell told the Forward. Thankfully, the 500 toRead More


Dance Fever at Sutton Place Synagogue

By Masha Leon

The Sutton Place Synagogue in Manhattan “rocked” as the 220 guests at the June 16 Yiddish Artists & Friends Actors Club & Yiddish Theatrical Alliance Annual Dinner Dance Gala waltzed, cha-cha’d and hora’d to the beat of Mitch Kahn’s Orchestra.Corey Breier, master of ceremonies, club president and recently appointed president of…Read More


Firetruckism

By Marjorie Ingall

I’m working really hard on saying “Independence Day” without smirking. To me, it’s not a holiday; it’s the name of a movie that started the whole cynical tradition of opening big, dumb, “Oooooh, explosions!” gazillion-dollar summer blockbusters. (Okay, so “Independence Day” is the first action flick to feature Judd Hirsch and theRead More


A New Take on Old Ethics

By Allan Nadler

In one of the more unsettling lines in modern Yiddish literature — a genre hardly lacking in disturbing sentiments — a young man who has left the yeshiva for a secular life is rebuked by his former classmate: Don’t you remember what our rabbi taught? He who has studied in the Mussar yeshiva will never again be able to enjoy his life! YouRead More


Cultural Awards Serve Up Feast for the Soul

By Masha Leon

The National Foundation for Jewish Culture’s June 2 Jewish Cultural Achievement awards dinner at the Plaza — co-chaired by Morris Offit and hosted by actor Ron Leibman — was a feast for the soul.Among the roster of participants delighting the 350 guests who helped raise $500,000 for the foundation was National Public Radio host Scott…Read More


Arguing the World: A ‘Conversation’

By Masha Leon

Sparks flew at the civil and witty “Conversation” between Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Natan Sharansky at the June 2 Aleph Society dinner at the Essex House. When moderator Charles Krauthammer expressed astonishment at the return of antisemitism 50 years after the Holocaust, Steinsaltz — author of 60 books on the Talmud,Read More


Blessing of the Second Chance

By Faye Moskowitz

I might have been bat mitzvah when I turned 13, but in truth, no such ceremony was available to me as a daughter of Orthodox parents, and so I waited 57 years before I finally stood on the bima to observe my spiritual birthday.Under the guidance of Rabbi Avis Miller at Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington, several dozen women in my cohort completedRead More


Don’t Make Your Groom Abandon China

By Wendy Belzberg

My sister-in-law has generously offered to throw me a baby shower. I have always thought that, according to Judaism, baby showers are prohibited. Also, I thought I was supposed to wait until the birth to bring any baby gifts into my home. What is the proper etiquette, and how do I address this diplomatically with my sister-in-law?Read More


Woodbine Museum Opens Doors to American Past

By Ethan Porter

Michael Azeez has a long personal history with the Woodbine Brotherhood Synagogue. “My earliest memory,” he said, “is in the synagogue with my father, tying his tallis in knots.”It is something of a tribute, then, that Azeez has spearheaded the restoration of the historic building in southern New Jersey and opened, within the synagogue’sRead More


Ethics of Charity Is Far From Black and White

By Wendy Belzberg

My sister, with whom I have a difficult relationship, works full time for a charity for which I have little respect. She has asked me to donate to her charity a five-night stay in a resort that I own. I donate room stays often, but there is no public-relations upside from her group, and five nights is twice as much as I usually give.

— WhyRead More





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  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
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