(JTA) — Over the past month, a viral sensation has flooded the Internet: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people post on social media videos of themselves dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neurodegenerative disease colloquially known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The challenge — which requires anyone who undertakes it to nominate someone else — was inspired by 29-year-old former athlete Peter Frates, who suffers from ALS. It has spread from his Boston peers to police chiefs, celebrities, and pop stars, helping the ALS Foundation raise millions of dollars. Not bad for what’s essentially a giant digital game of freeze tag.
Jewish celebrities — from Adam Levine to Mark Zuckerberg — have enthusiastically taken up the cause.
(Appropriately enough, given that her name means “water” in Hebrew, actress Mayim Bialik also took up the challenge. )
But the phenomenon moved into the political arena last weekend when Justin Bieber nominated President Obama to douse himself in ice.
Even without a personal invitation from the Bieb, pols in Israel have begun taking up the challenge. Two members of Knesset have videoed themselves speaking about ALS awareness, then succumbing to buckets of ice — probably just about tolerable in August in Israel.
Yesh Atid Knesset member Dov Lipman, in a full suit, announces in both Hebrew and English that he’s “bringing the challenge to the Knesset,” and challenges three other MKs to take part as well.
(At least one other MK, Eitan Cabel, has taken up the cause ).
Not to be outdone, the famously media-savvy Israel Defense Forces has tried to redirect some of the viral attention to its own cause — the ongoing battle with Hamas that has claimed thousands of lives.
A 26-year-old IDF soldier, Corey Feldman, and two peers decided to eschew ice entirely and create the “Hamas vs. Hummus” challenge. (In Israel, after all, the iconic chickpea spread is more plentiful than water.)
In a video, three IDF soldiers in full uniform smear their faces with hummus, nominating others (and offering the option of donating to the Friends of the IDF charity instead, in case nominees are hummus averse).
Not to throw cold water on their idea, but it’s doubtful whether the Hummus Challenge will achieve quite the viral status of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Controversy aside, one can only surmise that many IDF supporters would cringe at this scandalous waste of hummus – which obviously should be smeared on pita, not faces.
Talia Lavin is a fact checker for the New Yorker and a Forward columnist writing about Jews in American politics.
#IceBucketChallenge Goes Sabra — With Hummus