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23 definitely accurate Jewish pop culture predictions for 2023
Our culture reporter PJ Grisar whipped up his prognostications for the new year, tracking several major shakeups in the worlds of social media, Hollywood and even a long-running Jewish marriage.
Phone home: Someone will launch a competitor to Twitter called Kvetch; its first message will bemoan the platform’s user interface. “Kvetch” becomes the word of the year. It’s uttered in the halls of Parliament, the Kremlin and at Mel Gibson’s dinner table. The Yiddish world is ambivalent about the development, prompting the Forward article “Yiddishists kvetch that Kvetch has lost its Yiddishkeit.”
Movie mavens: Following the success of Hanukkah on Rye, Hallmark announces plans for more Jewish holiday fare: Smooches in the Sukkah and Talk to You on Tisha B’Av. The Anti-Defamation League declares that these titles are “bizarre, misguided but not outwardly antisemitic.”
Read PJ’s other predictions ➤
The hottest Jewish trends for 2023 (and the 2022 fads we won’t miss)
Not to be outdone, PJ’s culture colleagues Irene Katz Connelly and Mira Fox gazed through their crystal matzo balls, and what did they find?
Partying at delis: You might think pastrami on rye, smothered in Russian dressing, seems like a symbol of a bygone era, your zayde’s favorite order that’s passé in a gluten-free vegan world. But you’d be wrong — the deli is so hot right now. Not just the food, also the aesthetic. Fashion designer Batsheva Hay had her New York Fashion Week show at Ben’s Kosher Deli, Zabar’s sells high-end sweaters and Katz’s hosted a rave.
Putting the ‘stud’ in Bible study: Apps like JDate and The Lox Club cater to Jews looking for love, but they’ve become so saturated that they sometimes don’t feel very Jewish anymore. So ditch the apps, our duo recommends, and try meeting your beshert the old fashioned way: at synagogue.
Read the rest of Irene & Mira’s Tired/Wired take ➤
The billboard campaign from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles features some Christian quotes. (Courtesy)
Jewish words of wisdom are popping up on LA billboards. Just don’t look them up. The local Jewish Federation launched an initiative to combat antisemitism by plastering what it describes as “ancient Jewish values and teachings” on 10 billboards across Los Angeles. It seems the Fed didn’t double-check the source material. “The highest form of wisdom is kindness,” reads one billboard. The quote is frequently (mis)attributed online to the Talmud but in fact comes from a 17th-century exegesis of the New Testament. Another is a near-quote of Norman Vincent Peale, a Protestant clergyman. Read the story ➤
Wait, George Santos said what about Chuck Schumer’s mom? The New York Republican was shunned by his party colleagues and wandered the Capitol halls with a backpack like a lost freshman on Tuesday, as more odd stories and statements emerged from his largely fabricated background. In a newly discovered podcast interview, Santos claimed to have knocked on the door of the 94-year-old mother of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer while campaigning in his district. Quoting her, Santos said, “‘I don’t know what’s happened to my son. He used to be a good man.’” Read the story ➤
The Maccabi Winter Games have been dormant for more than 85 years. Until this week, and it’s in Germany: The last time the event was held was in 1936 in Czechoslovakia, and before that, in Poland in 1933. In addition to competing in skiing, figure skating, curling and other sports, the more than 350 athletes are set to participate in Shabbat meals and a combination havdalah and pool party. Read the story ➤
And one more: A Texas chef is selling meat seasonings with names like “Rabbi Rub” and “Jew Cub Rub” – which are listed as kosher but were deemed “extremely weird” online.
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WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Rep.-elect George Santos, center, kept to himself during the first day of proceedings of the new Congress. (Getty)
🇺🇸 The vast majority, 88%, of the voting members in the new 118th Congress identify as Christian, far more than the 63% of U.S. adults who do so. Representative-elect George Santos, who falsely claimed to have Jewish grandparents who fled persecution in Europe during WWII and has said he is Catholic, has been moved to the category of those with no known religious affiliations. (Pew Research, Religion News Service)
🦸 And speaking of Congress … here’s a new approach to “Truth, Justice and the American Way:” Rep.-elect Robert Garcia, a California Democrat, plans to be sworn in on an original copy of the very first Superman comic book, courtesy of the Library of Congress. It was written and illustrated, of course, by Superman’s Jewish co-creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, with Fred Guardineer. (Twitter, Times of Israel)
🇺🇦 A Times of Israel investigation has documented cases of rape, sexual harassment, workplace exploitation and other abuses of Ukrainian women who sought refuge from the war by moving to Israel. At least one of these women killed herself. (Times of Israel)
🇮🇱 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition with partners perceived as far-right extremists may be a bridge too far even for some of his longtime friends in the U.S. “It just seems like he’s just throwing the playbook out the window,” said David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (JTA)
🇷🇴 A city council in Romania voted not to dismantle a bust honoring a minister in the country’s pro-Nazi government during World War II. One parliament member who defended the decision accused critics of “rewriting Romanian history and demolishing the cult of its heroes and martyrs.” (JTA)
👮 Orlando police are investigating an incident from New Year’s Eve, when the phrase “vax the Jews” was beamed onto the side of a downtown office building. (Click Orlando)
🎨 A university art history instructor in Minnesota was fired after showing students a 14th-century painting depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The president of the Muslim Student Association complained to the administration at Hamline University, a United Methodist-affiliated school in St. Paul, noting that Islam prohibits figural representations of Muhammad. (Religion News Service)
A podcast we’re listening to ➤ The new episode The Ezra Klein Show, which features an interview with author Judith Shulevitz about what Shabbat offers a modern world struggling to unplug.
Shiva calls ➤ Edith Pearlman, a short story writer who gained acclaim late in life and was compared to John Updike and Alice Munro, died at 96 … Ronald Feldman – a pioneering gallerist who championed artists who tackled women’s rights, the environment and totalitarianism – died at 84.
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Moses Alexander, Idaho’s 11th governor, served from 1915-1919. (Wikimedia/iStock)
On this day in history (1915): Moses Alexander became the first practicing Jew to take office as governor of any state – in Idaho, of all places. (Washington Bartlett, elected governor of California in 1886, was born to a Jewish mother but had a Christian burial.) The German-born Alexander began his political career in Missouri then moved to Idaho, where he served two terms as governor of Boise, the state capital, before seeking statewide office. Alexander, for whom the town of Alexander, Idaho, was named, also helped establish the state’s first synagogue.
On the Hebrew calendar, it’s the 11th of Tevet when, in 1648, legend has it that a tailor named Mordechai and his wife, Esther, saved the town of Mezhibuzh from a Cossack invasion. It is known by many as a minor Purim festival.
In honor of National Braille Day, read about how one blind woman learned how to read the Torah using Braille.
Artist Julie Weitz tries on a tzitzit prototype. Purple strings will later be added to the corners. (Courtesy)
Our colleagues at JTA report that a number of initiatives – the Tzitzit Project, a podcast called Fringes and an online store that sells tzitzit for women made from modified H&M undershirts – are aimed at mainstreaming Jewish ritual garments for all genders. “If you take it out of the Jewish framework,” said Avigayil Halpern, a rabbinical student, “there is something very femme and glamorous and kind of fun in the ways that dressing up and wearing things that are twirly is just really joyful for a lot of people.” Read the story ➤
Thanks to PJ Grisar and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter.
You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].