And The Oscar Will Not Be Going To…

alanarkinJTA’s Tom Tugend sums it up: “If a Jewish cabal supposedly runs Hollywood, it sure did a lousy job promoting its own for Academy Award nominations.”

Ah well, we can always root for Alan Arkin, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the world’s most disturbing grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine. And there’s the slight chance Borat will beat out its less offensive competitors for Best Adapted Screenplay.

But if you’re looking for Jewish Oscar coverage, you’d best stick to Esther’s on today’s Beliefnet.

The Care and Feeding of Marriage

drlauraHave you heard about the New York Orthodox couple who built a wall down the middle of their house as a solution to their marital issues?

Neither Chana Taub nor her husband Simon will give up their three-story Borough Park house as part of a divorce settlement that can’t quite get settled — the Taubs have been in court for almost two years trying to dissolve their 20-year marriage. A judge with a creative sense of justice has ordered them to put up a drywall partition that gives Chana the top floor and the kitchen; Simon gets the livingroom and the diningroom. Mom has three of the kids, Daddy lives with one. No word on how Simon and the last kid eat with the kitchen barricaded; it’s a good thing Brooklyn has killer takeout.

When I first read about the Taubs I thought “What a fabulous idea! During the ten days out of the month when the mere smell of my husband’s socks can push me into a psychotic tirade, I will simply erect a wall between my side of the closet and his. I will nail the door shut to the downstairs and he can sleep and cook on the grill in the garage. He’ll pee outside, which he does anyway and thinks the neighbors don’t notice. Since the laundry’s down there, he can do that, too. We can alternate between the two children, depending on which one’s behaving the worst.”

Unfortunately, this is not a real solution, since I cannot possibly trust him to wash my delicates. But it got me thinking about marriage, and what a crazy myth this “happily ever after” bollywash is. Now, listen, I love El Yenta Man with all my heart and soul. I know a spaz like me is blessed to have a found a virile Jewish prince to help propagate the Chosen people. It’s just that living with him drives me batsh*t sometimes, especially around that time of the month when I am feeling particularly sensitive about having all the dishes put away and absolutely no lintballs floating down the hallway, and he is just not being empathetic enough to my need to have order and silence and tends to mock me instead. Continue reading

You Could Screw Your Real Estate Agent, But SHOULD You?

The Yenta family has been looking for a suitable house within the Savannah area for six months now, and in spite of all the nonsense I hear about “buyer’s market” and “appreciation value,” I still can’t find a place that feels like home.

jerryseinfeldOur extremely patient realtor sends us emails twice a day, calls my cell when she sees anything like a 3 bedroom, 2 bath within 10 miles of our kid’s school, and pretends not to hear when El Yenta Man and I start sniping at each other about whether putting our daughter’s bedroom in the garage is a fair trade-off for a gourmet kitchen. She’s shown us probably 60 houses so far, and she’s always smiling when she takes off the lockbox on the latest vinyl-sided monstrosity/mouse-sized brick bungalow/mold-infested ranch style. Her optimism far surpasses mine.

(I could write a whole other post about how guilty I feel for being so goshdarn picky. But it’s my first house. I’m not trying to be difficult, and my demands aren’t that outrageous — all the bedrooms on the same floor? A kitchen that doesn’t need all the plumbing and electrical ripped out and replaced prior to moving in? No daily drive-by shootings? All I can say is I know what I looking for, and I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll know it when I walk in the door.)

The ladies at the weekly senior lunch (aka The Yentas) are growing impatient. Ethel, who moved to Savannah from Brooklyn last year to be near her grandchildren, puts her hand on my arm the minute I arrive on Thursdays. “Nu? Any news?” When I shake my head she pats me and says “Ach, it’s a good thing your in-laws are so generous. I’d have put you out on the street by now.”

Beezy, the spriteliest 82 year-old in Hadassah history (she flattered my father-in-law into $150 towards the latest fundaraiser) is convinced that my realtor is to blame for our chronic houselessness. “Girls, don’t you think she should change agents? Someone from the community could find you a house like that.” She snaps her bejeweled fingers. By “community” she means “of our kind.” As in “Ditch that goyish Yankee already and employ someone Jewish who’s from here, schmuck.”

I try to explain to the Yentas that all realtors have access to the same listings, unless there’s a secret Jewish real estate cabal to which I am not privy. I say El Yenta Man has been working with this woman since before we made the cross country shlep and that if we change agents, she won’t earn a penny for all the time she’s spent with us. The Yentas all wave their hands and make “bosh!” and “pish” noises at me.

Maybe there is an underground Jewish real estate mafia hawking fabulous homes with rose bushes and front porches and endless closets and built-in bookshelves, but I cannot in good conscience dump someone who has tried so hard to help me find a home. At this point when when we finally do find a place, the math breaks down such that with her commision divided by the hours she’s put in, she’ll be lucky if she breaks minimum wage, anyway.

Even though I’m too much of a pansy fuzzyheart to do it, I guess I can forgive the Yentas for thinking it’s fine to screw over my realtor in favor of “my own kind.” But what the deal with Jewish a**hat who f*cks over his observant Jewish realtor?

When I heard that Jerry Seinfeld duped his Orthodox realtor out of her commission by purchasing his $3.95 million Manhattan townhouse on the Sabbath, I have to say I experienced something like moral superiority, bordering on howling righteousness. Sure, a judge has ordered Jerry and his wife, Jessica, to pay something like $100,000 (far below the standard 5%, by the way) to poor Tamara Cohen, who made it clear to the Seinfelds that she was unavailable from sundown on Friday ’til three stars out on Saturday. So maybe the Seinfelds could care less about Shabbat, but showing such disprespect to one of one’s own is shanda. Cohen’s loyalty to the Sabbath was merely an inconvenience to them; they couldn’t wait another minute to spend their millions and do the right thing?

Obviously my sympathies lie with Tamara, who likely spent Sunday morning to Friday afternoon for months showing the Seinfelds every piece of real estate form Staten Island to Park Avenue, trying to keep a positive attitude while gelt-digger-turned-socialite Jessica rejected brownstone after penthouse because she hated the crown molding. (Okay, so maybe that was me, but I refuse to see any similarity between us beyond our first names. Besides, I know I’m an idiot, whereas I suspect Jessica Seinfeld thrives on asserting her role as a bitch.)

Maybe Jerry and Michael Richards should get together and pitch a new show: “So it’s your basic ad-lib about this entitled jerk who has no social conscience but makes pithy observations that are supposed to apply to everyone, right? And he has this friend who’s prone to yelling racist things, but he’s not really racist, he just has some form of Tourette’s…”

*Photo care of USAToday. Are Jerry and Jessica giggling over their power to dis’ the little people and the religion of their ancestors?

Isaac Cohen’s Mother: Kvelling or Plotzing?

britney isaacSince Britney Spears quit Kabbalah in favor of Hinduism baby worship no underpants, you may have worried that you would never see her near this blog again. But have no fear, the world’s most confused shiksa has found her way onto the Jewdar once again, this time in the form of her new boy toy.

Encino-bred model/actor Isaac Cohen has hit the publicity jackpot by becoming the ex-Mrs. Federline’s most favorite accessory and has been seen escorting her to highbrow destinations like Hugh Hefner’s Vegas pad and all around West Hollywood — everywhere, it seems, but synagogue.

Yo, Isaac, babe. You seem like a nice kid. Dumb, but cute. You’re perfect for the role. I can only hope you will parlay this 15 minutes into a something useful to your career, like hosting one of those idiotic TV Guide shows that roll while people are trying to find something else to watch. Next time I see your mug pop up, I want it to be of your own merit and not just ’cause you went someplace previously stuck to a BMW’s leather seat.

Britney briefly made time with another J-Boy since splitting with that awful husband of hers, reports Radaronline, leading them to investigate a revolting possibility :

Maybe the tarnished shiksa goddess is just looking for the proverbial “nice Jewish boy” to treat her right after her failed marriage to trailer trash poster-boy Kevin Federline? Not so fast. According to, a genealogy website, “Federline” is an Americanized form of the German “Federlein,” a German and Ashkenazi Jewish name derived from the German word for feather. A spokeswoman for Federline could not immediately say whether he has Jewish ancestors.

Update: Dammitall! I couldn’t even finish this post before poor Isaac got dumped. It’s a mean, fast world out there, babe. Ah well, Isie, she’s a skanky courva anyway — what kind of mother doesn’t wear underpants?! Perhaps we’ll see more of you sometime — just please, don’t put out a Jewish rap album, ‘k?

And until she starts dating Seth Green, it looks like you’ve heard the last of Britney Spears round these parts.

Sick Daze

nursieS’sorry for the slow posting, friends. Some microbial evil has infected every member of the Yenta household, requiring me to peel my tushie from the crate that serves as Mommy’s work throne and do nursey things like make soup and dispense medication via syringe to a freakishly strong 3 year-old who bites.

I write this over a sleeping child with fevered cheeks in my lap, another groaning on the couch and El Yenta Man confusing the anti-biotics with the anti-freeze, so I’d better get back to the fun. I’ll spare you the bodily fluid details, though feel free to read one of my favorite sicky posts of kvetching past, Mold, Diarrhea and Escargot. See ya once everyone can make it to the bathroom by themselves.

You should probably go wash your hands now.

NY Times Finds Foxman Not So Foxy

abeIt’s like Israel: It’s okay for me to criticize ADL president Abe Foxman, but you’ll sure get my hackles up if you do.

James Traub’s portrayal of anti-Semitism’s main man in the NY Times is less than flattering and makes him out to be some mad meglomaniac who sees a Nazi behind every lampshade. The article accuses Foxy of shining the limelight only on himself, and the ADL itself, “for all its myriad activities, is a one-man Sanhedrin doling out opprobrium or absolution for those who speak ill of Israel or the Jews.”

I’m not saying the man couldn’t be painted as an overreactive control freak once in a while, but the article’s further implications that Foxman and his cronies at AIPAC do in fact run the world make this one of the most outwardly anti-Semitic pieces in national publishing.

But an unfair comparison to a genuine media whore is the thing that really got my “I’m A Foxman Groupie” panties in a wad:

“It’s tempting to compare Abe Foxman with Al Sharpton, another portly, bellicose, melodramatizing defender of ethnic ramparts.”

Sharpton may be a hero to some, but he’s made some questionable choices (Spike TV, hello? Oh, and that whole Crown Height Riots incident.) Abraham Foxman may be a little paranoid and make people uncomfortable with his uncompromising commitment to rooting out anti-Semitism from its nooks and crannies near and far, but his vigilance is the reason we have a climate in which we can speak up for ourselves in the face of hate and ignorance.

The NY Times can dismiss Foxman’s fears as neurotic and unfounded, but I have an uneasy feeling we’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Hat tip: Jewschool.

MLK Musings

I wanted to write a post yesterday to celebrate the life of a great man who inspired many others to action, but instead I used my God-given freedom to slack with my kids. We read several library books about Dr. King and watched some of Savannah’s well-attended parade on TV, then we all put on wetsuits and went surfing. I had the honor of sharing a wave with a friendly pod of dolphins, an experience far more fulfilling than attempting to compose something genuine about a social movement that of which I have to admit I know so little.

As one of a handful of Jews in a Mormon-y enclave in Arizona I wasn’t the whitest girl on the block, and I learned early that I was “other.” Rather than sit around and cry about it (okay, I did try taping my nose up in third grade to see if it might conform to the ski-sloped nosed blond girls dominating my school, but all I got was a rash on my cheek from the adhesive) I embraced otherness in every form: I marched for the ERA when I was 8, I started a Young Democrats club in high school when I saw there was no political alternative to the smarmy Young Republicans (der, none of us could vote anyway,) I went door-to-door registering voters in Phoenix’s most horrid neighborhoods during election years and I loudly and proudly ditched school to march on MLK ‘s birthday before it became a national holiday. When asked to fill in a bubble as to my race, I still skip “Caucasian” and opt for “other.” And, as you know, the rhythms of Africa are in my blood.

I like to think I’m down. I’ll always feel more comfortable at the corner store where the old men congregate to drink out of bottles in paper bags than shopping at Whole Foods. I use the terms “sister” and “brother” for everyone I meet and deem “ginuwine.” I keep it real, people.

Yes, I do realize I am completely full of liberal crap.

Coming from an upper middle class Jewish family, my freedom has been a gift from the very beginning. I have not wanted for anything in my life; even when I lived in my van by the side of the river (true, true!) it was always a choice to be poor. It’s been my choice to be other, to feel oppressed, to empathize with the other side of the tracks when I easily could have put on a pair of Manolos after college and passed for a rich white girl.

Now that I live in the South where I see poor black people every day, people descended directly from those kidnapped from Africa and made slaves, children born into a fifth generation welfare, folks who may have won the right to equality but hardly have the resources and education to exercise it. Segregation may be in the past officially, but here in Savannah there are black neighborhoods and there are white neighborhoods, and there are black churches and white churches, and while my son’s school is a shining example of diversity, the public school system and its obvious imbalances appear to define the notion of white flight. Violent crime is rampant here, and the specter of “young black men on crack with guns” is today’s everpresent boogeyman. Articulate, well-mannered black people are still considered precious, an aberration of the norm. It’s just so f*cked, my brothers and sisters, and I admit I am paralyzed in the face of this thick, ugly unconcious attitude that hurts so many.

I am fool to think I could know what it’s like to live in dark skin. I hear the older people of the Jewish community use the terrible term “shvartze” to refer to their neighbors, and I have more than once heard “boy” to refer to a grown man of African descent. You might think this girl who spent many an evening in the deep dark parts of Oakland shaking booty would be outraged into action, but you’d be wrong. And I’m ashamed about that.

Sometimes I speak up, real polite-like, as to not embarrass my husband’s family or jeopardize my own extremely fragile social standing, but mostly, my bleeding liberal heart aches quietly. I pick my son up from school and feel magnanimous for sticking to my guns and keeping him in public school, but then I drive “home” to the beach, where it’s a mostly white population living away from the crime and the ugliness.

In the meantime, I fantasize that I will find some drummers who know the rhythms I know and we will give free dance lessons in the park and shake this city out of its dark history with the vibrations of the ancestors. When we finally buy our house in the heart of town, I will organize my neighbors to walk together and take back the night. I will counsel my children that we are blessed, blessed people and that it is our heritage to fight for justice for everyone. Next year on Dr. King’s birthday, we will march downtown in that parade. I will not forget that this dream of his, this idea that people of all colors and religions and opinions can live peacefully and share their ideas, their rituals, their recipes.

As you can see, he never forgot us.

New Chip To Prevent Surgical Snafus

operationNext time you have surgery and no one leaves an errant scalpel somewhere in your body, you’ll have an Israeli company to thank.

As an answer to the estimated 1-in-1500 incidents where a surgical instrument is “forgotten” inside the patient, a new chip has been developed by Haldor that tracks tools via a huge screen in the operating room. The company plans to use the same technology to identify newborn babies and Alzheimer’s patients, which sounded scarily Gattaca until it was made clear that the chips would be implanted in wristbands rather than directly into people’s heads.

Our industrious Israelis have been busy developing so many other useful gadgets, including a dog-translation device that aims to replace expensive security systems, a lie detector to use with your Internet phone service (look for Skype to offer new “bullsh*t meter” feature soon!) and multi-faceted perimeter protection systems to foil anyone looking to dose a city’s water supply with, say, Rescue Remedy. (Darn, there goes my radical plan for widespread harmony calm…)

Raise A Glass, Raise The Spirits

wineIt makes sense that kosher wines are named after famous figures in Jewish history, but I have to admit I never gave much thought to who the men who inspired say, brightly-flavored Abarbanel’s Beaujolais Villages or the bubbly Rashi Asti. So a grand “todah raba” to Algeimeiner’s David Eisdorfer for this primer on three great Jewish teachers whose spirits live in on in, uh, spirits.

Still believe Manischewitz blackberry is the pinnacle of what should be paired with brisket? Sample the best kashrut vinters have to offer via’s Wine Club and become a macher sommelier!

And as for serving up your fancy Alfasi Chardonnay, you need to know that stemless wine glasses are all the rage. Sure, wine in a tumbler that doesn’t taste like cough syrup may take some time for your bubbie to get used to, but you’re an iconoclast anyway, arent’tcha?