Meet Leo’s New Model

bar rafaelLeonardo DiCaprio, once a superstar and now best known for dating tall blondes, has a new woman: 20-year-old Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.

Yeah, she’s hot, but Bar, who’s been spotted all over Europe with the man formerly attached to Gisele Bundchen, is well-known in Israel for being a draft dodger. Seems she married a much older man right before she was supposed to show up for army duty, which excused her from the Israeli military. And she hasn’t quite gotten that get (Jewish divorce decree) even though she’s been out gallavanting with Leo, 11 years her senior.

At least it’s not a nice Jewish girl dating the world’s most superficial movie star.

*A hair flip to the Bangitout Blog; photo c/o gabsmash.

W Manages to Jesus Up Jewish Heritage Month

bagelPresident Bush has declared May as “Jewish Heritage Month,” proclaiming that

“Since arriving in 1654, Jewish Americans have achieved great success, strengthened our country and helped shape our way of life. Through their deep commitment to faith, family and community, Jewish Americans remind us of a basic belief that guided the founding of this nation: That there is an Almighty who watches over the affairs of men and values every life.”

Uh, thanks for the compliment, Dubya, but the congresswoman who worked so hard to get the proclamation through, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, took extra special care to leave the religious-y parts out of it:

“There will be no religious emphasis,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It will be purely cultural and educational, so we didn’t want it tied to any particular Jewish holiday.”

Leave it to the Jesus president to get all God-ish about “heritage.” The man couldn’t have eaten a bagel in front of the cameras and left it that? (Not to mention his wording: the Almighty watches over the affairs men, but the women are on their own? Don’t even get me started on that hypocritical “valuing every life” nonsense.)

This surely begs a round of the never-ending “Is Judaism a religion or a culture” game, but the Sephardic Jewish origins of America’s first settlers is so much more interesting, dontcha think?

I recently read Elizabeth Hirschman’s Melungeons: The Last Lost Tribe In America, and according to her research, crypto-Jews may have been this country’s first immigrants. Though the book is a dry read for all of its scholarly references and academic charts, Hirschman (who thought she was a WASP until her DNA tests came back Jewish, although with a last name like that I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t have been a little suspicious) makes a solid case that the mysterious people of the Appalachians and their descendants (including Abraham Lincoln, Davey Crockett and Elvis Presley) can trace their roots back to the Jews of Spain and Portugal. She even supports the claim that these Jews and their similarly oppressed Muslim neighbors started the Baptist church. (More here and here.)

Perhaps somewhere in the “Jewish American Heritage Month” of May it would be appropriate to hear a bit more about the Melungeons, but this Ashkenazicentric society of ours has yet to reclaim the diversity of Judaism.

T-Shirt of the Week: In Horrible Taste, But I Like His Spirit

walocaustCorporate monster Wal-Mart has filed a federal lawsuit against Charles Smith of Conyers, GA for making up a batch of these and selling them on his Web site.

Smith filed a countersuit citing a free speech defense, though he acknowledges that the spoof logo is utterly tasteless.

He writes:

I worry that by even implying that anything could compare to the horror of the Holocaust, the worst tragedy in history, I cheapen the term. But when I came up with the word “Walocaust,” I had been reading articles about how the Holocaust was the mass destruction of human beings by other human beings. While I read that, a story came on the TV about how many goods Wal-Mart was importing from China and how many jobs this cost America. I was thinking what would be a word to use to express the destruction of human beings by corporations.

I’ve been weighing the bad taste vs. massive global/labor exploitation issue, and I think can forgive the former for lambasting the latter.

BTW, Smith has made a total of $5.10 with gross sales of … one.


yahzeit Today is Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I know many of us prefer not to focus on the Holocaust lest world Judaism become some kind of “death cult;” all the horrible pictures and survivors’ stories can ruin your day, right? And there’s just too much to remember; it’s understandable that we’ve reduced the Holocaust to concentration camp images of piles of eyeglasses and standing skeletons and then subsequently reject it.

But today I want to be able to handle it, to hold a place open for this catastrophe that still affects every Jew whether he or she is conscious of it or not. To let the day pass without something — a prayer, a candle — is to give power to those who deny it ever happened.

So bless those who work tirelessly so that Jews like me have to be reminded of those killed in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe, of those who were rounded up, separated from their loved ones, tortured, raped and starved by the Nazis. Thank you for preserving the faces, the facts — so that we can know that so many did not passively walk into Hitler’s ovens like sheep but fought like hell — in fact, this date was chosen because it commemorates the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943.

We know we’re supposed to remember, but really, we’ve already forgotten so much. It’s not like it’s ancient history — only two generations ago. My grandmother, who was born in Poland and came here as a child thanks to the prescience of her father in the the mid-‘1930s, never talks about the huge family left behind. There are other people who saw, suffered and kept living and keep marching, but not for long. (Sadly, as David Kelsey at Jewschool points out, some of these survivors are living in poverty. Who doesn’t agree that we can live with one less museum if it means financing some luxuries for them for the rest of their lives?)

By the time my children are adults, there will be no survivors left. I’ve talked with my son, who is 6, about the “the bad very bad thing that happened to the Jews when Bubbie was a little girl,” but it’s a little early for a trip to Yad Vashem. He is a curious boy, though, and I want to know what being a good Jewish mother means here: Do I invite him over to my computer to look and listen and watch, or should I wait until he’s older?

I remember seeing number tattoos on arms around my grandparents’ Miami Beach apartment complex pool when I was little, but I was supposed to pretend not to notice. I heard things, my mother explained a bit, but it wasn’t until I visited Auschwitz as a young adult that I realized so much of my own personal nervousness was collective — that the Holocaust exists in my Jewish DNA, my psyche, no matter how consciously I try to make Judaism about ritual, spirituality and family.

I’ve been surfing sites all day, trying to catch up on the guilt, the sadness, the overwhelming horror — because I’m afraid tomorrow I won’t think about it anymore. Trying to get my mind around “six million,” a third of the entire Jewish population of the planet at the time. To quote Chavaleh, “six million is a lot.” Someone pointed out to her that if we had a moment of silence for each of the six million, we’d be standing for two and half years.

But spending that much time mourning the dead is a travesty to the living. So it will be a few minutes of silence today. Another vanilla version of Hitler for the kids. A lit yahrzeit candle. A murmured Mourner’s Kaddish.

And perhaps soon I can make time to seek out a survivor who is willing to share, so my son can ask about the numbers on an arm and get at least one story straight from the source before it’s too late.

Frida’s Jewish Roots Debunked

frida kahloThough a widely-held belief, a new book has come out that reveals the father of painter Frida Kahlo wasn’t Jewish after all.

A review in the JPost reveals that photographer Guillermo Kahlo came from a long line of German Protestants, which would have been considered unpopular and embarrassing in bohemian circles in the 1940’s. In a rare reversal of celebrities denying their heritage, “Frida herself was probably the source of the claims to her Jewish connection.”

No se cambia nada, yo. The mujer stood up for what was just, advocated workers’ rights and kicked serious canvas ass. If she wanted to believe herself Jewish, s’ok by me.

Your Dad Is So Jealous

bo derekYou may have heard that Bush’s new chief of staff, Josh Bolten is Jewish. (Dubya, who apparently gives nicknames to all his staffers, has dubbed him “Yosh.”)

Bolten posted a mezuzah on his White House office doorpost and is a confirmed bachelor and biker, leading some to speculate that he’s gay.

But he’s often seen with 80’s pin-up uber-shiksa Bo Derek, still a perfect 10 at almost 50.

Longtime environmental activist Bo (seen here with the cornrows that launched many thousands of mid-life crises) was recently named a special envoy to the secretary of state to help raise awareness about illegal wildlife trafficking (which surely has more to do with her commitment to the cause than her “friendship” with Bolten.)

Just thought all you single Jewish guys in your 50’s and 60’s still dreaming about taking Bo for a ride in your red Ferrari would like to know you still have a (very very slim) chance.

Double Holiday

It’s the last day of Passover and I don’t want to smell a piece of matzah until next spring. But what to do with the leftover box and a half of staleness? Some ideas:

*Insulate the crawlspace
*Moisten and mix with avocado for a pore-toning facial
*Under the guise of “feeding the ducks up at the lake,” launch a ninja-style attempt to decapitate the goose that snapped at me last week
*Throw a Jewish hoedown and substitute ground matzah for sawdust
*Market a brand of over-priced bio-degradable kitty litter

I feel like I’ve been on the Jewish Atkins diet — six more hours and the Yenta family will be scarfing on the biggest, doughiest pizza we can find.

We’ll probably be joined by many others with the munchies — though for different reasons than eight days of carb denial:

4/20 is widely-celebrated holiday here in Northern California for its marijuana-related significance, and there are a lotta stoners in the San Francisco Bay Area. Go figure.

(If you would like further clarification on the concept of 4:20, check out the High Times’ movie, man.)

Strangely, the Semitic stoners of Jewish High has nothing to say about the double holiday, but they’re probably all out enjoying their own, uh, pizza.
freshly baked

TomKat: Get Ready For Some Placenta Pie

it's a girlKatie Holmes reportedly gave birth to a 7 lb, 7 oz. just minutes ago, which isn’t relevant to this blog at all except …

According to Insider Online, they named their celebspawn Suri, which is a kabbalistic derivation of the word “princess” in Hebrew.

Wha’, “L. Ron” wasn’t a nice enough girl name, the Scientologists had to go borrowing from the Jews? The placenta eating I can handle (what kind of California hippie Jew would I be if I hadn’t at least considered it?) but a Jewish princess this kid will never be!