Ciao, For Now

mapI’ll be unchained from the laptop for the next few weeks, so posting will be on hold unless my dear friend and tushy-coverer Pepe Pringos is able to take some time away from his own busy businesses.

First, my incredibly generous and cool mother is taking me to Italy (somewhere in the knee section of the boot) for a writing/creativity retreat hosted by author/activist Tania Katan and a coven of other artsy professors. Yes, that’s right — without husband or children. Maybe I’ll start that volume of Jewish feminist poetry I’ve always wanted to write. Or, I’ll eat too much pasta, develop a taste for chianti and nap a lot.

After I return, I’ll have just enough time to wash the marinara stains out of my clothes before the whole family shlep the other way across the latitudes to our old hometown for the famous Fairfax Festival , where we’ll reconnect with our loved ones and assure them that life in the South isn’t nearly as horrible as they’d imagined.

Once we get back I promise you, dear readers, that I will not be going anywhere for a very long time, as it will likely take me several months to get over the jet lag.

In the meantime, check out this amazing dude, Dr. Dorian Paskowitz: Health nut, Old Testament interpreter and the father of Israeli surfing. Inspiring!

So until the days are hotter and the nights are shorter, Á presto, amici! (See ya, friends!)

Kippot Revolution

klippedkepahThis story from Boca Raton has it all — diplomacy, ingenunity, and a happy ending: When the powerful governing body of Florida’s high school athletics informed Weinbaum Yeshiva basketball coach Jon Kaweblum that the bobby pins Jewish athletes use to keep their yarmulkes pinned to their heads during games would be suddenly be considered a safety hazard (in spite of the absence of even one hair accessory-related injury in the many decades of Yeshiva sports,) he could have called “foul!” The Yeshiva certainly had a case for religious discrimination, but instead of raising a big stink and threatening to secede from the organization, 26 year-old Kaweblum put his keppe to work to find a solution that wouldn’t punish the players.

The result: A pin-free kippah that won’t leave the court strewn with clips. Klipped Kippahs made their debut on the heads of Weinbaum’s team, and stay put using small combs attached to the underside. (There’s a discount for bulk orders, and you can even send in your own kippah for modification!) The simple design was approved wholeheartedly and immediately by the Florida High School Athletic Association, a resolution resonant of Talmudic inspiration.

“This is more than clips on a yarmulke,” said the Yeshiva’s headmaster Rabbi Perry Tirschwell. “I told the children, ‘Don’t let this lesson be lost on you. There will be obstacles, but you can keep true to your faith and your principles and participate in the American experience.’”

Who Says the Deep South Ain’t Progressive?

reblesserBravo! Brava! Bravissima! to Rabbi Josh Lesser, who was bestowed the Georgia Center for Nonprofits’ Revolutions Leadership Award last week. Reb Lesser founded Atlanta’s Rainbow Center, a research and support center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered folk that’s managed by the local Jewish Family and Career Services and sponsored by Lesser’s Reconstructionist and GLBT-welcoming congregation Bet Haverim (House of Friends).

The non-profit Rainbow Center spreads its message of tolerance to the Jewish community at large (and Atlanta’s Jewish community is massive and sophisticated, which always seems to surprise those who think there’s no Jews in Georgia) by dispatching “volunteer ambassadors” — gay Jews — to Hebrew day school, synagogues and other Jewish gatherings to educate and promote social justice for everyone.

I’m picturing a flock of gorgeous drag queens sweeping into a Hadassah meeting and firing up a rousing chorus of “Hinei Ma Tov,” but that’s probably my own wishful thinking. Still, I gotta figure out how to get a Rainbow caravan over to shake up Savannah — I know the Senior Yenta Lunch Bunch would be so down.

*What are French people smokin’ over there?!
sarkozyJust what the name of all that is holy is going on in France? Have the people gone complétement fous (batsh*t)? First they elect Nicolas Sarkozy, a Jew and a liberal (though he is in disguise as a conservative, but just you watch), then they’re praising his appointments of even more Jews.

Whas’ up, Frenchies? Aren’t you guys supposed to be the most anti-Semitic country in the whole EU? Weren’t all the French Jews fleeing for Israel like five minutes ago? Aren’t innocent young men kidnapped off the streets and tortured? Don’t gangs of disenchanted, bloodthirsty Muslim youth roam the streets, vandalizing Jewish cemetaries and setting cars on fire?

Non? Pardon, c’est ma gaffe (My bad, yo.)

Oil Insanity

oilWhen you hear “Israeli oil” you think of something to keep the menorah burning or a nice dipping sauce for a toasty pita, not the icky, sticky stuff that runs the globe and showered an ecstatic James Dean in Giant, right? Last time I heard about the far-fetched legend of bubblin’ crude in the Holy Land it was from an article profiling evangelical Christian-backed Zion Oil & Gas, who rely on the Bible as their drilling guide.

But apparently petroleum is an actual legitimate business for one Kibbutz Shefayim, who as the Alon Israel Oil Company, Ltd. claims a healthy chunk of the local petroleum market after acquiring 1,700 gas stations, an oil refinery and a U.S. pipeline.

Altogether, Alon-Dor has over 350 operating stations of various kinds around Israel, giving it a 20% share of the local petroleum market. The company also has major retail holdings in food and convenience stores, many of them located in Alon’s gas stations and real-estate centers by the stations.

The kibbutz also runs a luxurious resort near Tel Aviv, and has several more enterprises in the works.

So the Armageddon-mongers are digging around for liquid treasure in the dry sands of the Sinai, Israelis generate fortunes with American-imported oil and we’re still fighting an asinine war over Iraq’s reserves. This is a very strange world, indeed.

spursofdavid I’ve always had an affinity for the Jewish Wild West and bein’ a Jewish cowgirl myself, this bad hoss dud from Shalomshirts.com could be one of my favorite shmatas of the entire collected kit and caboodle. It certainly would look mighty fine on Yenta favorite Jewish cowgirl Mare Winningham, yes siree…

If you’re wonderin’ where I’m getting this silly Western lingo, this here innernets is way faster than any Pony Express. Giddiyap!

No Gas Today

nogasOy, try telling that to El Yenta Man, who had too much of my famous vegetarian nachos last night. But seriously, folks, today’s the day of the Big Gas Boycott that’s supposed to lower gas prices. Didn’t ya get the memo?

Sadly, it’s a farce. You can skip the AM/PM or the Chevron today if it makes you feel like you’re doing something to stave off the inevitable $5 gallons we’ll be seeing by next summer, but a one-day boycott is a little like a gnat bite in the fat rolls behind the arm of the oil industry. If you really want to piss off the fat cats, trying not driving for a week. The JSpot has more thoughtful suggestions on sane energy use.

As for me, the point is moot as the Yenta minivan is in the shop with a cracked radiator, which will cost far more to fix than a tank of gas. Cars, gas — such tsuris. Think I’ll hop on my bike (it’s got a trailer for the little girl) and go flip off people driving Hummers.

These Boyz Won’t Be Back In My Town Anytime Soon

altarboyzChristian boy bands kinda fall below my radar for some crazy reason, yet I find myself drawn to Altar Boyz, a Broadway show that “gently” skewers the genre with catchy lyrics, pelvic-thrusting choreography and of course, cute boys in tight pants.

From The TartanOnline: There’s Matthew, the quintessential boy band leader … Then there’s Mark, whose hilarious flamboyance highlights his hugely transparent crush on Matthew. Luke, the ghetto superstar, just got back from his rehab stint, where he was treated for “exhaustion.” Juan, the poor orphan left on the front steps of a nunnery in Tijuana, is desperately trying to find the parents who brought him into this vida loca. And, Abraham, the Jewish one, is convinced he was brought into the group by accident — but that doesn’t stop him from coming up with the band’s amazing lyrics.

The show just finished up a cross country tour, yet the styley quintet somehow managed to skip the entire Bible Belt that’s still wound so tightly around the deep South. Hmm, could it be because of lines like this?:

“Are Jews allowed in church? I think so, I just saw one on the cross above the altar!” Oooh, ouch!

Or this one, excerpted in a song about abstinence: “Until my wedding date, I guess I’ll just have to master… my own fate.”?

According the reviews, that’s as sharp as the skewering gets, but still, funny. My kind of offensive. Guess I’ll have to wait and see if the boyz’ll go back to the altar Broadway and plan a lil’ trip.

Brian Williams Knows His Yiddish

brian williamsI’ve always thought NBC anchor Brian Williams kicked tushy for staying inside the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina, but here’s one more reason to love the guy: He knows his mamaloshen.

After the word “tsuris” (Yiddish for problems) popped up on a recent Sopranos episode, some at The Forward debated that the word had joined Old Country faves like “chutzpah,” “shmutz” and “putz” in American mainstream vernacular. But Williams, who’s not Jewish but describes himself as a “loyal observer of the language and culture,” wrote that he was “rocked” by its use and that “tsuris” isn’t the kind of Yiddish the goyim throw around lightly.

“This goes with ponim, mishpokhe, shpilkes and keynehoreh. This is for the pros. This is Triple-A ball.”

I have to agree — hard to imagine too many non-members of the tribe walking around going “Oy, I got such tsuris, you don’t want to know” — but it’s not like this was FOX or ABC. The Sopranos is HBO, for heaven’s sake — isn’t everyone Jewish over there?