We knew it would happen. The red Kabbalah bracelets seen on every celebrity wrist from Britney to David Beckham to Demi and Ashton, also known as bendels, have become a fashion fad as well as protection from all forms of earthly evil. The New York Times‘ article reads like a bad Teen Vogue story, quoting a Kabbalah-tsotchke purveyor: “It’s all about, `I’ve got to wear what the celebrity has.’ “
Of course, now that they’re all the rage, we’ll have to retire ours. Damn, just when we thought we’d averted the evil eye for good…
The most famous quasi-Jew of the moment continues to reinvent Judaism to her liking as her “Reinvention” tour travels the globe. Madonna/Esther (Madonesther?) now requires that the Kabbalah Center’s head rabbi, Philip Berg, bless every stage where she performs her mishmash of soft porn, religious blasphemy and pop pablum. Not that we disapprove– we actually dig it that she bumps up against the sharp corners of religion and makes something arty. But the Rabbi’s reputation might suffer for helping her cut such corners, especially if it’s true that he lets her sit on the men’s side of the synagogue during services.
Look who it is on the cover of L.A.’s Jewish Journal! You remember her, Mare Winningham? The WASP-y girl who was too prude to bump uglies with Rob Lowe in St. Elmo’s Fire? She’s so Jmerican she’s making us look bad.
Fine, we cracked a few jokes at the expense of Torah Yoga, but what do we make of Kung Fu Kabbalah? Rabbi Daniel Kohn holds a black belt in aikido and like most of residents of Marin County, California, has self-published a book.
Kinesthetic Kabbalah: Spiritual Practices from Martial Arts and Jewish Mysticism sums up why martial arts and Kabbalah complement each other so well:
“Jewish mysticism is all about ‘Why does the world suck?'”
From Get Out the Vote 2004, a Jewish voting guide:
“During the next four years, there will be important debates about the way our government does business. Legislation on significant issues such as foreign aid, safety net programs, Social Security, international debt relief, gun control, civil rights, and support for Israel is likely to be considered by the next Congress and Administration. In addition, over the next four years the President will appoint and the Senate will confirm numerous judges, which will likely include one or more Supreme Court Justices.
American Jews are concentrated in the most populous states and, when activated, can make a real difference in a national election. Ninety percent of the Jewish population resides in 13 states with substantial electoral college leverage: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. These states collectively have 280 electoral votes, more than the amount needed to elect a President. In the past, Jews have frequently been a
Saw a couple of thoroughly Jmerican movies from the comfort of the sofa over the weekend. First was It Runs In the Family, a nepotistic family comedy starring Kirk Douglas (post-stroke but still funny and dignified) as the aging patriarch of a Jewish family (not the religious kind, the New York-bagelly kind.) His real son, Michael Douglas, plays the screen son, a the bleeding heart liberal in lawyer’s clothing (who, we must say, still looks pretty fine for a man in his 60’s.) Topping off this Jewish royalty extravaganza is Michael’s son Cameron, who spins a spot-on caricature of a Trustafarian stoner boy. Kirk’s ex-wife, Michael’s mother and Cameron’s bubbe plays the graceful matriarch and the totally unrelated, unJewish but completely fabulous Bernadette Peters is the lawyer’s wife. The plot is a bit corny, but the bits between the characters made us plotz.
Muchas gracias to Boy Genius Julio, who pointed us to The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob. Elastic-faced Louis de Funes stars as a bigoted businessman who gets kidnapped by a Third World revolutionary; pandemonium ensues as they disguise themselves as chasidim and are mistaken for visiting rabbis. We forgive it for being French, rather unpolitically correct and set in the 70’s, because it’s ridiculously funny in a Robert Benigni way– with a dash of Herbie the Lovebug thrown in.
In London last spring, filthy rich synagogue member Brian Maccaba was accused of being a “sex pest” by Rabbi Yaakov Lichtenstein for making indecent proposals to married women. Maccaba, father of six, reportedly offered a million dollars to shtup his kids’ religious school teacher, also married. Other complaints surfaced and the rabbi called Maccaba out as the perv he is. The response was total denial and a lawsuit against the rabbi. London’s High Court decided on Friday that what Maccaba thought was slander was actually a pretty shrewd character assessment on the part of Rabbi Lichtenstein. The case was dismissed and Maccaba went down trying and denying.
As much as your mother would like to believe otherwise, Jewish men can still be pigs. Even the British ones.
The Washington Post reports on one Reverend Lon Solomon, born Jewish but a now born-again pastor bent on saving souls, especially us heathen Jews. (You’ll have to register on their site to get the full story.)
“At Metro stops and parks throughout the region in August, the church will launch what Solomon promises will be the most ambitious evangelical outreach ever to the area’s Jewish community. Hundreds of church volunteers will sing hymns on street corners and distribute literature aimed at converting Jews.”
Ick, this smacks of inquisitions, crusades and pogroms when Jews were given the choice to “eat the cracker” (our euphemism for converting to Christianity) or die. They may not be raping and pillaging, but gangs of streetcorner evangelists present a certain encroachment to freedom of religion and thought.
Frankly, we think people should mind their own f’in business when it comes to religion– you believe yours, we’ll believe ours and we’ll see ya after all this is over. However, we like to play little tricks on people with enough chutzpah to come to our homes (or get in our faces) uninvited and try to convert us. Last year, when a couple of acne-sprinkled Mormon boys showed up at our very off-the-beaten-path door, we pulled out our Gates of Prayer and invited them to pray with us. They left an hour later after a long soliloquy (ours) on the greatness of God and His wish that we respect the Word.
If you’re in the D.C. area and you run into any of these preacher creatures, act fascinated with their “we are the only way” crapola and then start davening like your life depended on it. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to engage in any intellectual rhetoric–it will fall on deaf ears.
Bluegrass rabbi Michael Stein gets people’s toes tapping to L’echa Dodi and other Sabbath country classics at Temple Aliyah in L.A. tonight. Wish we could be there, but we’ve got front lawn tickets to Jewish bluegrass great David “Dawg” Grisman at the JCC tomorrow.
Wishing y’all a Shabbos full of music, wherever your tastes may lie.
From Jewsweek’s Jewriffic Awards, the week’s “most remarkable things in Jewish culture,” comes this classic line from Patrick Swayze via Entertainment Weekly:
“To me, Dirty Dancing wasn’t about Swayze shaking his ass. It was about the cool, funky Jewish girl who gets the guy.”
That’s right, stud, and don’t you ever forget that nobody puts Baby in a corner.