Welcome back to Jane Looking Forward on this somber Monday. If someone sent you this weekly newsletter to you, please subscribe here. We need to stay connected, now more than ever.
Once again, America awakened to news this morning of another horrific mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas, this time at a scale once thought unimaginable. We are covering this story the best way we can — our Nathan Guttman is in Las Vegas, while other reporters here in New York are following every Jewish angle there is. As of this writing, we don’t know what prompted the gunman to mow down 58 innocent people in cold blood and injure hundreds more, but we do know how he did it: with weapons — 19 rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition — that he should never have had.
Gabby Giffords, the Congresswoman from Arizona who was maimed for life by a gunman in Arizona, pleaded once again for stricter federal gun laws. If only her former colleagues would heed her call.
Yes, we all should pray for strength for the families of those killed, and for healing for those injured. But I will admit that this post on Facebook summed up how I feel right now:
“I spoke to God. He doesn’t want your “Thoughts and Prayers.” He wants your guns! You clearly can’t handle them responsibly.”
The ubiquitous, and undecipherable, first son-in-law
Jared Kushner, half of the most powerful Jewish couple in the country, is fast becoming a caricature of himself. His public persona is so devoid of substance, his voice virtually unheard, his bland face unreadable, that the rest of us are left to fill in the blanks in what is turning out to be the ugliest of ways.
Just in the last week, I read Lucinda Rosenfeld comparing Kushner to Neil Klugman, the grasping working class hero from Newark in Philip Roth’s “Goodbye, Columbus
,” who “spent a summer coveting the supple body and the well-stocked house” of one Brenda Patimkin.
A scathing take-down in Vanity Fair referred to Kushner as “like the heir apparent in a Mob family that happens to run the whole country.”
More substantively, over at the Washington Post, Norm Eisen and Anne Weisman portrayed Kushner and his use of private emails to do government business as a threat to our democracy.
In the Forward, my colleague Batya Ungar-Sargon cited a catalogue of stories describing Kushner’s business dealings, back channel diplomacy, and potentially indictment-worthy behavior and then concluded:
“Cumulatively, these articles hit on every Jewish stereotype to have haunted us for centuries. Disloyal double agent? Check. Shylockian insistence on payment of debt? Check. Controls the message and the media? Check. Foments political revolt? Check. Effeminate and chameleonic? Check. Worst of all, in Kushner’s case, these aren’t stereotypes, but truths. After decades of trying to convince Americans that we are not all these things, Jared Kushner embodies them all.”
Breitbart News doesn’t much like him, either.
Can one extremely rich and well-connected 36-year-old Jewish guy from New Jersey represent all these terrible things? Kushner has become the vessel into which is poured the anger, fear and disgust — and unfortunately, in some cases, the Jew-hatred — generated in Donald Trump’s America. I don’t know where this is going but it’s bound not to end well.
Don’t let them eat cake
The most popular story on our website last week was written by a freelancer with a very good eye. Whole Foods in Rockville, Maryland might have meant well by designing and trying to sell a decorated sheet cake for Yom Kippur. But as Jen Simon wrote: “Jewish people observe Yom Kippur by fasting. As in, not eating. So, no cake. Not even if it’s been decorated with every well-known symbol of the Jewish religion including Jewish stars, a honey pot, a bee, pomegranates, an apple, a menorah and, strangely, a fish.”
Is there no end to the commercialization of religion?
Forward print subscribers should be receiving the October magazine any day now, and you are in for a real treat. The cover package is a fascinating collection of essays exploring what the bar/bat mitzvah means today. So devoted am I to the Forward that, in addition to writing one of these essays, I even agreed to share the photos from my own bat mitzvah. Oh, the pink dress!
This story "Jane Looking Forward: Las Vegas, Jared Kushner, Cake" was written by Jane Eisner.
Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, is writer-at-large at the Forward and the 2019 Koeppel Fellow in Journalism at Wesleyan University. For more than a decade, she was editor-in-chief of the Forward, the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national news organization. Under her leadership, the Forward’s digital readership grew significantly, and won numerous regional and national awards for its original journalism, in print and online.