We Would Postpone Our Flight, But The Tickets Are Non-Refundable

user submitted pictureSundown Saturday marks the start of the most somber Jewish holiday this side of Yom Kippur: Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the month Av, is a full day of mourning to reflect upon all the crappy things that have happened to to the Jewish people since the dawn of time. The day is a culmination of the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, referred to as bein ha-metzarim, meaning “within the straits” of a difficult passage.

(Strangely, a lot of those crappy events actually happened during this period, so it seems that the Israeli powers-that-be could have picked a more positive date to schedule the disengagement.)
Not that we’re superstitious. But our unobservant partner picked Sunday for us to fly across the country, so we’re brushing up on the Mourner’s Kaddish to add to our usual litany of in-the-air prayers. It’s also traditional to fast on this day and not engage in joyful activities, acts of mourning somehow aided by air travel.
On a lighter note, at last count we’ve put up 800+ blog posts since Jmerica’s launch last May, so we’re taking off for some non-electric R&R for the next coupla weeks. Our trusty elves may take some time out to post while we’re away from our shackles, and when we return we have some delightful surprises for Jmerica members. If you dig this blog, be sure to sign up, ’cause good things are coming your way!
Shabbat Shalom and a quiet, reflective Tisha B’Av to all. May we all gather together here again soon!!

Ugandan Jews Join Fair Trade Coffee Biz

user submitted pictureWhen it comes to your morning coffee, remember that every cup counts. Buying Fair Trade beans means that you are directly supporting Third World growers who receive a living wage for their work. The Abayudaya Jews of Uganda have recently teamed up with their Muslim and Christian neighbors to produce organic, kosher coffee that will help build schools, maintain clean water supplies and create a sustainable economy.
NoCal’s Paul Katzeff, head of Thanksgiving Coffee (one of the first American companies to make Fair Trade beans available to the American public) and MOT is heading up the venture, calling it “the most important project I’ve ever done. Everything I’ve done up to this point was leading to it.”

Wonderful. And to do your share of giving power to the peaceful, all you gotta do is drink up.

Disengagement Is Hell On The Libido

user submitted pictureEsconced as we are out here on the Left Coast, intensity happening in the Holy Land is only now making its way into our daily consciousness. And it keeps getting tenser, folks…since both blue and orange are our favorite colors, we can only pray for compassion and mercy on both sides on Disengagement Day.

Speaking of the pullout, we happened upon this article about the pros and cons of morning sex.
Personally, we fall in with the women, but our opinion doesn’t matter to our partner when we’re sleeping.

Carjacked, Shot In The Head, But He’ll Sing Again Soon

user submitted pictureGrammy-winning singer/songwriter Marc Cohn was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking last week in Denver, CO. He was treated for a wound in his temple and released the next day.

“Frankly, I can’t tell you how he survived,” said police spokesperson Sonny Jackson.
Cohn, who is listed as a Jewish-American musician at Answers.com, is most famous for the early 90’s hit Walking In Memphis, which contains the baffling line Tell me are you a Christian child/And I said Ma’am I am tonight.
We’ve always really loved that song. Best wishes to him for a full and speedy recovery.

Photo c/o Buzzpics.com.

Jewish Lit On The Edge

user submitted pictureWe know, no one likes to read anything longer that blog post anymore. Mention “Jewish literature” and people’s eyes glaze over like a coupla Krispy Kremes. But should you find yourself away from your desk with nothing to do but thumb through a leftover copy of Watchtower, these books are better than a stick in the eye (or Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

For those whose attention spans are short but deep, News From The American Diaspora by Jay Neugeboren contains twelve stories about twelve very different kinds of Jews. Each is well-crafted along the theme that American Jews do not stand on solid ground spiritually or emotionally, and so must create identity from broken pieces of history, barely remembered prayers and the present plastic culture. We loved it, ’cause sometimes our Jewish life feels like a disaster out in the Diaspora; it will surely resonate with those who do not live in tight-knit shtetl-like communities and therefore must figure it out on our own.
The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide To Guilt showcases the talents of twenty-eight of the top Jewish women writers, who each profess how she cannot live up to the high standards of what they believe it means to be Jewish. Most of them are pretty hilarious. From not attending family events to getting a pedicure on Yom Kippur, we can relate.
The JGirl’s Guide: The Young Jewish Woman’s Handbook for Coming of Age by Penina Adelman, Ali Feldman and Shulamit Reinharz is more for your niece or bat-mitzvah-aged cousin, but Jews of all ages could benefit from the Talmudic wisdom within. While we dug all the “girl power” stuff, we were especially impressed with the way the authors specifically relate biblical and Jewish women with living as a teenage girl in modern times (Go Vashti!) An excellent gift for the “royal daughter” in your life.
These can certainly be ordered online, but we have an alternative sugggestion: Go buy one, two or all three from an independent bookstore and go read outside, under a tree. Maybe we’ll see ya there.

West Bank Wall Tagged

user submitted pictureBritish guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy, whose fake “cave painting” depicting a stick man pushing a grocery cart went unnoticed by British Museum authorities for three days last year, has brought his vandalistic high art to Israel:

He managed to throw up nine paintings on the Palestinian side of the West Bank wall to protest the 425 mile razor-topped barrier that the Israeli government has deemed necessary to keep citizens safe from suicide bombers.
Banksy withstood threats from Israeli soldiers and guns in his face to finish his “windows” to the world, and in spite of all the inflammatory political consequences, we think they’re pretty clever. (Check out the gallery here.)
Even more darkly entertaining is the reaction from an old Palestinian man who told Banksy his painting made the wall look beautiful. Banksy thanked him, only to be told: ‘We don’t want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall. Go home.’

From Her Cold, Dead Hands

user submitted pictureStereotype-buster of the year: The new president of the National Rifle Association is a nice Jewish girl.

Sandra Froman, an attorney in Tucson, AZ who estimates that seven or eight of the NRA’s 76-member board are Jewish, believes in the right to keep her Colt .45 on her person and opposes limits on semi-automatic weapons. However, she agrees with gun-control advocates that firearm ownership should be restricted “among criminals and the mentally defective.”
She has focused on gun education so far in her reign, and advocated arming teachers to promote school safety while serving as the NRA’s vice president.
A graduate of both Stanford and Harvard Law, Froman is the second female NRA president and the first Jewish one in the organization’s 130 year history. She’s also reported to be a crack shot.
Her mother must be so proud.

When Football Makes Men Cry

user submitted pictureQuarterback great and longtime Brandeis coach Benny Friedman has finally gotten past due props from The Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was inducted alongside modern pigskin giants Dan Marino and Steve Young last week.
Former 49er Bill Walsh spoke to Friedman, who died in 1982, as if he were actually there for his induction ceremony, calling him “the catalyst that started the forward pass in professional football.”
Friedman’s former teammates worked long and hard to get the Canton, Ohio organization to recognize his legacy. Bill McKenna, 72, who played with Friedman at Brandeis, said before the celebration weekend that ‘It’s long overdue and Benny deserves it. We’re all men, but I expect there will be a lot of tears.”