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Is #JewishPrivilege a thing? Not so much, say Jews on Twitter

Family members lost to concentration camps. Last names swapped for less conspicuously Jewish ones. Pennies thrown on the school bus.

These are a few of the anecdotes Jews shared on Twitter after the hashtag #JewishPrivilege began trending over the weekend.

While the hashtag has existed for years, far-right anti-Semitic accounts resurfaced it on Sunday with posts denying the Holocaust, accusing Jews of masterminding the slave trade, and stating that they “shape shift to white” at whim.

But by Sunday afternoon, Jewish activists and celebrities had co-opted the hashtag, using it as an ironic appendage to keenly felt stories about personal experiences with anti-Semitism. Comedian Sarah Silverman led the charge with a post that recalled being pelted with pennies by classmates.

David Simon, the writer behind “The Wire” and “The Plot Against America,” also chimed in, recalling the emotional anguish he experienced when his father was taken hostage in the 1977 Hanafi Siege.

Many others shared their families’ Holocaust history or instances of anti-Semitism they’d experienced in everyday American life.

Others made a distinction between “Jewish privilege” conspiracy theories peddled by extremist groups and the white privilege from which many Jews benefit.

Meanwhile, some users pointed out how the experiences of Jews of color complicate any attempt to label Jews as “privileged.” Since Jews are far from a monolithic bloc, it’s impossible to generalize about the privilege we enjoy in some contexts or the discrimination we experience in others.

Debate over Jewish privilege also made its way into the resignation of New York Times Opinion Columnist Bari Weiss.

_Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com._

Is #JewishPrivilege a thing? Jews on Twitter say no

‘Let’s grab some burgers;’ Jewish NFL player invites DeSean Jackson to talk

After a football player shared anti-Semitic quotes on Instagram, his Jewish colleague invited him to visit a Holocaust museum, “grab some burgers, and have those uncomfortable conversations.”

In a video posted to Twitter on Thursday morning, Julian Edelman, a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, addressed Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who on Monday posted quotes to social media accusing Jews of planning to “blackmail” and “extort” America.

“I’ve got nothing but respect for [Jackson’s] game,” said Edelman, who wore a Star of David pendant while addressing the camera. “I know he said some ugly things but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation.”

He suggested that he and Jackson spend an afternoon educating themselves by visiting two Washington, D.C. museums that reflect their respective backgrounds: the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“We need to have those uncomfortable conversations if we’re going to change,” he said.

The quote Jackson shared, which was attributed to Adolf Hitler but deemed inauthentic by fact-checking website Snopes, said that “because the white Jews knows that the Negroes are the real Children of Israel and to keep Americas secret the Jews will blackmail America.” Jackson later apologized on Instagram, promising to “consider my words and actions moving forward.”

While Edelman was raised in a Christian household, he began to identify as Jewish as an adult after learning more about his great-grandfather’s Ashkenazi heritage. After the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, he wore cleats with Hebrew writing to memorialize the victims, and he told Los Angeles Magazine that he speaks regularly to a rabbi and plans to have a bar mitzvah.

In the video, he spoke about becoming more aware of anti-Semtism as he embraced his Jewish heritage, revealing that he’s been called a “kike” on the football field. He also expressed support for broader anti-racist causes. “Even though we’re talking about anti-Semitism, I don’t want to distract from how important the Black Lives Matter movement is,” he said.

Non-Jewish football players have also spoken out about the incident. On Twitter, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner addressed the “mindset” that sparked Jackson’s post, urging fans not to “leave another minority race in the dark” and choking up when he recalled the synagogue shooting that took place in his home city.

“Change your heart, put your arm around people, and let’s all uplift each other,” he said.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

Jewish NFL player invites DeSean Jackson to talk

Seth Rogen gets saved by the brine in the new trailer for “An American Pickle”

If you heard and dismissed the rumors that Seth Rogen was making a movie about Jewish pickling practices, you could be forgiven for chalking it up as another highlight in our year of fabrications and “fake news.” But because this is the kind of thing that actually happens in 2020, Seth Rogen really is making a pickle movie — and honestly, the newly-released trailer looks like the real deal.

Based on a four-part New Yorker humor piece by former SNL writer Simon Rich (a scenario that itself sounds like something from a movie, maybe this one), “An American Pickle” follows archetypically plucky immigrant Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) as he sets out from the old country with big dreams of getting rich in America — “like, buy my own gravestone rich,” as his wife Sarah, puts it. He takes a job at a pickle factory in the Forward’s original stomping grounds, the Lower East Side. But with union reforms decades away, he falls into a vat of brine where he’s preserved for 100 years (in case you’d forgotten, this is a Seth Rogen movie).

When Herschel wakes up in the 21st century, he’s adopted by his great-grandson Ben, a godless computer coder who looks just like his ancestor because he is also played by Seth Rogen. It’s Ben’s task to acclimate Herschel to his New York, a hellscape of coffee shops and featureless co-working spaces that seems eminently ridiculous to a hardscrabble herring-eater (as it should to all of us). But ironically, it’s the mockable modern fever for fermentation that helps Herschel find his footing.

Based on the trailer, “An American Pickle” looks to be more of a feel-good family tale than Rich’s story, which is wholly committed to lampooning the yuppie creative class (“They tell me they are ‘conceptual artists’ and are ‘reclaiming the abandoned pickle factory for a performance space,’ Herschel observes when two modern-day Brooklynites wake him from his century-long vat nap. “I realize something bad has happened in Brooklyn.”). In the movie, Herschel and Ben seem poised to forge a new family unit, whereas Rich’s original protagonist quickly supplants his churlish great-grandson in his under appreciated girlfriend’s affection.

But both are keepers for their Brooklyn slapstick and embrace of Jewish sensibilities that endure even after decades in brine: the normally-dour Herschel has a rare moment of triumph when Ben informs him that the man who cured polio was Jewish.

TLDR: If you told me in January that my hottest plans for August would involve admiring Seth Rogen’s beard(s) from the only couch I’ve touched for months, I would not have been happy. But I just watched this trailer three times, and I am here to report the summer is looking up.

“An American Pickle” will premiere on HBO Max on August 6. Watch the trailer here.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

Seth Rogen saved by the brine in “An American Pickle”

Dave Portnoy declares he’s “uncancellable” as racist videos resurface

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy is digging his heels in after videos circulated in which he used racist language, including the n-word.

“I’m un-cancellable,” he said in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday. “You don’t cancel me, I cancel you!”

Portnoy was responding to a 2016 Barstool video clip recently reposted by the Twitter account Resist Programming, in which Portnoy took aim at Colin Kaepernick, a football player who made headlines for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police violence — and still doesn’t have a job because of the backlash.

Portnoy said that when he saw Kaepernick kneeling, he thought he was “an ISIS guy.”

“Throw a head wrap on him, and he’s a terrorist,” he continued. “I thought he had some terrorist, Arab, Arabic theology.”

Before you ask, yes there were two other men in this segment, and yes, they both seemed to think all of this was fine. Apparently they agreed with the reasoning Portnoy offered before embarking on the ISIS rant: “I don’t think if you think something and don’t say or act upon it, you could be called a racist.”

Except, in this case, he very much did say it.

After Resist Programming resurfaced the video, Portnoy defended himself, saying it was taken out of context and mentioning instances in which he defended Kaepernick. But a recently created Twitter account called Expose Barstool Racists quickly clapped back, sharing a video of Portnoy singing along to a song by rapper Ja Rule whose lyrics included the n-word.

Portnoy founded Barstool Sports in 2003 and grew it into a thriving online blog that provides sports coverage and lighter fare such as “Horniest Man Alive Logs on to Twitter and Ranks the Top 370 Porn Stars of All Time.” He’s been accused by some, including the Daily Beast, of cultivating a “culture of online hate” by aggressively attacking critics on social media and encouraging fans to do the same. In an episode of HBO’s “Real Sports,” reporter Soledad O’Brien said that when she tried to interview over a dozen female Barstool Sports employees about their experiences almost all declined, citing fear of “rape threats.”

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

Dave Portnoy says he’s uncancellable after racist video

Celebrities pay tribute to comedic legend Carl Reiner

On June 29, comedic legend Carl Reiner passed away at the age of 98.

The Bronx-born son of Jewish immigrants, Reiner served in the military during WWII and embarked on a long and storied comic career in the postwar era. With fellow jokester Mel Brooks, he formed one half of a hit comedy duo; he also created “The Dick van Dyke Show,” winning five Emmys for his work. In his later years, Reiner wrote novels and cultivated an outspoken political voice: in recent weeks he expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and in some of his last tweets he mourned the election of President Trump. He also emerged as an avuncular and generally menschy figure, known for sharing dinner with Brooks every night during their old age.

It’s no surprise that social media is filled with tributes to Reiner’s artistic legacy, sharp wit and kind heart. Here’s how fellow comedians, entertainers and admirers are remembering him.

Comedian Sarah Silverman said Reiner “embodies the word mensch.”

CNN host Jake Tapper posted a picture of Reiner in uniform, presumably dating from his military service during WWII.

Writer and producer David Simon said he was honored to have once been the butt of a Carl Reiner joke.

Actor Josh Gad said the news made an already difficult year even worse.

Journalist Dan Rather, one of Reiner’s contemporaries, described the comedian’s life as “a roadmap through American culture.”

TV personality Ben Mankiewicz shared one of Reiner’s last tweets, written just hours before he died, a criticism of President Trump.

Actor Max Brooks, the son of Reiner’s longtime partner-in-comedy Mel Brooks, said the news was “a loss for me, a loss for my family, a loss for all of us.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer paid tribute to the comedian, who was one of his constituents.

Jason Alexander, aka “Seinfeld’s” George Costanza, said Reiner’s contributions to comedy are “eternal.”

TV host Joy Reid shared a photo of Reiner taking a knee.

Natasha Lyonne shared this memory.

Bette Midler fondly remembered her days working with Reiner.

Political analyst Bill Kristol shared a vote-by-mail advertisement in which Reiner participated just weeks before his death.

Comedian Steve Martin called Reiner “my greatest mentor.”

Actress Jane Lynch was simply in disbelief.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

Celebrities pay tribute to comedic legend Carl Reiner

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