CHINA’S GREAT JEWISH HOPE: Can 29-year-old Shi Lei bring Kaifeng’s ancient Chinese Jewish community back to life? Boston’s Jewish Advocate profiles a young man whose exploration of his heritage “has taken him from Kaifeng on the banks of China’s Yellow River to Israel, where he studied at Bar Ilan University and Machon Meir yeshiva in Jerusalem.”
EXPLAINING AN ABSTENTION: The Orthodox Union has faced fire from some right-wingers over its decision to abstain — and not vote “nay” — when a resolution backing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was voted on (and adopted) by the Jewish Council on Public Affairs. Nathan J. Diament, director of the O.U.’s Institute for Public Affairs, explains his group’s decision in an article in Brooklyn’s Jewish Press.
IRISH JEWS ARE SMILING: Connecticut’s Jewish Ledger looks at how Irish-Jewish expats the world over celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
EMBRACE ME, I’M INTERMARRIED: Paul Golin doesn’t like the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly’s policy banning intermarried speakers from its conference — and he takes it personally. Writing in the New Jersey Jewish News, Golin — the Jewish Outreach Institute’s associate executive director — argues that Conservative Judaism needs to be more welcoming toward intermarried families such as his.
ISRAEL IS OUR ETHANOL: Just as Iowans use their presidential caucuses to push for farm and ethanol subsidies, Jonathan Tobin of Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent argues that Pennsylvania Jews should “use every rally, town-hall meeting and fundraiser as a chance to have the candidates further define their stands on points like negotiating with Hamas, U.S. aid to a Palestinian Authority that foments hate against Jews and supports terror, as well as the right of Israel to self-defense against those who attack it.”
TAKE OUR WIVES, PLEASE: The folks behind television’s “Wife Swap” are looking for some Jewish mothers to trade. The Washington Jewish Week has the details.
The Muslim scholars want dialogue based on the assumption that the Palestinians will and should have their own nation and that violent deaths are a bad thing, regardless of how they happen. That’s not good enough. If they want fruitful dialogue, they must start by declaring that firing rockets at civilians is terrorism and is a crime against humanity and against Islam. Further, they should begin with intra-Muslim dialogue; the ignorance of history and the teaching of hate and violence are problems almost entirely on their side.
CHICAGO IN ST. LOUIS: Famed feminist artist Judy Chicago dropped by St. Louis for a women’s Shabbaton. The iconic artist — renowned for her “Dinner Party” (and less renowned for being a descendant of 23 generations of rabbis, including the Vilna Gaon) — talked about her heritage in her keynote address. “”My father broke with that long rabbinic tradition by refusing to go to religious school as a child,” Chicago said. “However, I believe his choice to become a labor organizer is consistent with his Jewish values, since a rabbi told me that Moses himself was perhaps the first labor organizer among the Israelites.” The St. Louis Jewish Light was on the scene.
‘BRO MITZVAH’ BOYS: “Will ‘Bro Mitzvah’ find roots in African American community?” the L.A. Jewish Journal asks.
RICHARD LEWIS SPEAKS: Comedian and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” character Richard Lewis chats with L.A.’s Jewish Journal about addiction, sobriety, “the blank from hell,” comedy, faith and resentment. “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies,” he tells the Journal.
JDL SUES: The head of Canada’s militant Jewish Defense League is suing the Canadian Arab Federation for defamation. According to The Canadian Jewish News, the suit is in response to a document posted on the Arab federation’s Web site that accused the JDL’s chief of being “part of a right-wing terrorist group, a racist and a supremacist.” Say what you will about the lawsuit; it’s certainly preferable to certain tactics used by the JDL in the past.
FLIGHT OF THE PRINCIPAL: The principal of an Australian ultra-Orthodox school has split for Israel amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward students. The Australian Jewish News tells the sordid story.
CAUCUSING FOR PALESTINE: Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice reports on an anti-Israel resolution that was raised in some Texas Democratic presidential caucuses. The paper finds that the resolution was beaten back in some caucuses, but passed in at least one San Antonio caucus.
HOME FOR PESACH: A leading British Orthodox rabbi is taking aim at the popularity of Passover vacations, explaining that going to a hotel for the holiday diminishes the holiness associated with “the many preparations that you perform before the festival” (i.e. housecleaning). London’s Jewish Chronicle has the story.
SPLIT DECISION: Jewish students won notable victories in student union elections at universities across Britain — a blow to aggressive anti-Israel campaigners on these campuses. At the same time, pro-Palestinian students at University College London succeeded in passing a student union motion twinning it with two Palestinian universities, while rebuffing an effort by Jewish students to also pair with Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. London’s Jewish Chronicle has the yin-yang stories.
FLIGHT OF THE KVETCHERS?: More than 100 passengers who were aboard an Israel-to-London Israir flight have signed a petition demanding compensation for what they say was “inadequate food and terrible service.” Ironically, London’s Jewish Chronicle reports, one passenger who isn’t complaining is the author of the book “How to Complain.” “People don’t know how to complain properly,” lawyer and author Mel Stein tells the J.C. “Some passengers were getting aggressive, agitated and making a nuisance of themselves, but this isn’t my style. I was quite embarrassed by the petition going round. It was a bad flight, but there was nothing the airline could do.”