Somewhere, Somebody Has A Very Big Stomachache

chocobathMay your Shabbat be sweet, but it’s probably not going to be quite as gooey chocolatey as it is for these gonifs.

From Yahoo News:

JERUSALEM – Israeli police are on the lookout for a thief with a super-sized chocolate craving. The robbers broke into a factory in the northern Israeli city of Haifa late Monday and walked away with nearly 100 tons of chocolate spread…Moshe Veidberg, one of the company’s owners, told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot it would require five large trucks to transport the stolen chocolate, which he valued at roughly $415,000.

Mmm, I know what I would do with a half million dollars of chocolate spread. How ’bout you?

Hat tip: Jewlicious.

Sports Mishegoss

Jews are all over the sports pages this week:

First, the hoop dreams of the Herzl/Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy’s boys’ basketball team in Denver may be dashed if the Colorado High School Activities Association board doesn’t get it’s head on straight. The athletic board has refused to reschedule the March 8 championship game, which falls on Shabbat, saying “If Herzl/RMHA makes it to the regional championship and refuses to play a Saturday game, another school would be chosen to take its place.”

The issue has caught the attention of some Colorado senators, who have pointed out that no games are scheduled on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, which violates the rights’ of the Jewish players. Fortunately, our cause has the sympathetic pen of the local Rocky Mountain News; the RMN has taken the athletics board to task in several columns for their inflexible, discriminatory ruling. More to come on this one, I’m sure.

pearlSpeaking of basketball, University of Tennesee head coach Bruce Pearl has kicked all manner of tushy and led his team to the top spot in the country. A vocal and proud Jew, Pearl will be inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on June 8.

And lastly, even if you think the parents of your kids’ teammates are shmendricks for kvetching about unequal field time and screaming at the ref, no one can top this Australian soccer dad’s schmuckitude.

Dance Like No One’s Watching

danceI’ve been a fan of Jewish journalist Loolwa Khazzoum since reading her essay in Yentl’s Revenge years ago. She and I played phone tag for almost a year trying to arrange a coffee date before I moved away from the San Francisco Bay Area, and I never did get to kibbitz with her in person. But I’m glad she’s still got my email:

She just sent me a link to her new blog, part of a site called Dancing with Pain, a movement philosophy to help those living with chronic pain. Loolwa was in a horrible car accident in 1997 and was thrown into the unsympathetic world of Western medicine as she tried to heal. Still barely able to walk years later, she had an epiphany at a dance retreat in 2004 and learned to use energy and meditation to move again. Now she’s developed a series of workshops and lectures that help seekers learn to:

* embody physical dance to dialogue with and soften pain
* distill and channel the raw energy of pain — “recycling” it to heal itself
* utilize spiritual dance to transform fear, anger, and frustration from pain

Reading about this philosophy last night sent bells ringing through my bones. First of all, I have been living with a torn hip faschia since the birth of Yenta Boy, and I’ve been known to break into spontaneous yoga in public places to keep the pain at bay. I have had this sense that I either must to “dance with the pain” or succumb to it, and frankly, I just don’t have time to be an invalid. So I keep moving.

Many of you readers know that dance has long been a vital part of my life, but the deep connection between my spiritual well-being and dance has been something that’s fallen by the wayside since I’ve moved away from California and its frequent gatherings of happy, twirling hippies. I don’t think I’ve danced – really danced, that lose-yourself-in-the-beat, sweaty, barefoot ecstasy that was part of every single day of my 20s – in over a year. I miss it so much.

Loolwa’s blog has reminded me that I need to dance – not at a club where tequila shots are three-for-ten-bucks and people hooking up in the bathroom, but a safe, sacred space where you can bring your kids and groove and participate in the highest and holiest vibrations on the planet. In Fairfax, I could depend on the monthly Groove Garden with its vegan snack bar and a second room full of pillows and rugs where all the hip parents would let the children chill out. It was what I wish synagogue was – communal, kind, elevated, conscious, worshipful and estatic.

You are probably not surprised that no place or events exists like this anywhere remotely near Savannah, Georgia. I thought when I moved here that I would continue to teach tribal dance and ignite something here, but the atmosphere here isn’t really one where people hang out in alcohol-fre environments listening to New Age music, unselfconciously gyrating to the rhythms of their inner spirits. See how ridiculous it sounds? But still, I had this idea that it would be so great to organize a monthly Groove Shabbos, a place where freaks like me and my family could dance our prayers in an authentic way. Would you come? Or do you think the Deep South will never be ready for trance music and carob balls?

Flu Shot Confusion

remedyIt started with a headache and little throat tickle. Next thing I knew I was in bed for four days with flowing green snot and a gurgling hack that scared the dog out of the room. Not pretty, the flu.

I’m almost completely recovered now (I’m still coughing a bit, sending the dog skittering off under the couch), but jeebus, this influenza B thing is for real, people. Everyone I talk to has either caught it, is caring for someone with it or is wearing a surgical mask and slathering on Purell trying to avoid it. “Epidemic” seems awfully dramatic, but folks from Seattle to Savannah are down for the count.

Because I’m alternative therapy groupie and a hippie at heart, I’ve been dosing myself and my family all winter with immune-boosting herbs and formulas. The astralagas and echinacea seem to have worked well for my husband and the kids, and I think my system got weak from a combination of stress and lack of sleep and was no match for the evil woman at a dance concert who kept coughing into my hair. It was a terrible couple of weeks, but still – you couldn’t pay me to have a flu shot.

I understand that a flu vaccine is helpful in theory – but the shot that everyone lined up to get this season is now being reported as less than 40% effective in preventing the actual virus circulating. In fact, flu shots have been linked with other complications, like paralysis and Alzheimer’s, and can actually weaken your immune system so you get sicker.

Yet the Center for Disease Control recommended yesterday that all children have another flu shot (and don’t even get me started on the neurological damage mercury-based vaccines cause in kids) – even after its own admission that this year’s shot is a waste of money and time (not too mention dangerous.)

This logic is so completely asinine – how can we trust a government health entity that’s pushing a faulty product? My friend Sam, who owns a tire store, snorted that only the government could do business this way. “I’d like to try that – here, the first four tires we sold you aren’t that good, so you’re going to need eight.” Anyone who believes there isn’t a direct financial connection with the CDC and the pharmaceutical industry probably still think global warming is a myth.

Anyway, it’s good to be upright again. Hope everyone out there is in good health – and remember the best way to prevent the flu is to boost your immunity, eat well and get enough rest. One of those surgical masks couldn’t hurt either.

(crossposted at

Shluffy Shabbos

susanesther*sigh*. The plate of this life is overflowing with family joy, work reponsibilities, volunteering for the synagogue, domestic chores…It’s gotten to the point where things are falling off the plate onto the floor. I think the dog’s run off with some of them and is gnawing on them under the bed, and I’m too tired to care.

A peaceful, flower-full weekend to all.

More art by SuSan Esther can be found at JewishArtandSoul.

Inquiring Minds Want To Know…

wheelhubBless my mother. She’s always forwarding me interesting emails because she knows how busy I am. This is the digital, 21st-century version of a practice she inherited from my bubbie, who used to send packets of newspaper clippings to the house every week, just in case we’d missed a story about a two-headed calf or the top 10 qualities of gifted children.

Last week she sent me an email about how an amateur archaeologist named Ron Wyatt had discovered chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea, effectively proving that divine events of Exodus aren’t just an exciting bedtime story. Except with just a few drops of Google juice I found out that Ron Wyatt also “discovered” Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant and the exact location of Jesus’ crucifixion. Nothing on the news wires about it, and if the academic homeboy at Paleojudaica doesn’t have anything to say about it, it’s got to be bunk.

But who need physical evidence to make the struggles of Moses, Miriam and the rest of our golden-calf worshipping ancestors relevant anyway? Does the existence of dead Egyptians at the bottom of the ocean actually prove or disprove the existence of God? I’m no rabbi (as I’m sure many are thankful), but isn’t the point of the Passover story is about faith?

Sorry, Mom. It surely would’ve made for fabulous seder conversation. But there’s always this two-headed turtle!

A Guest at the Sabbath Table

We had one of the children’s non-Jewish friends over for Sabbath dinner for the first time and I was a little nervous. Would the kid blow out the candles? Would he feel embarrassed? Would he go home and tell his parents that we chant the Devil’s music and drink blood out of a chalice?

As an unorthodox Jewish parent, I’m always riding the line between wanting my children to maintain a strong Jewish identity while learning to belong to the world at large. I don’t want them to be self-conscious about our rituals, and when Abe asked if his friend Luke could spend the night on Friday night, I thought it was a good opportunity to deal with my own fears. Luke’s a neat kid with former punk rock parents, so I figured any reported devil worship would be met with approval anyway.

He was completely mesmerized after we turned down the lights, took three deep breaths, lit the candles and sang the prayers, and then the conversation turned to a little Torah:

“So, my name is in the Bible,” said Abraham.

“Yeah, so’s mine,” mused Luke.

Luke paused, and I braced myself for a lecture about the differences between Old and New Testament from an 8 year-old. But no, he just took another bite of his veggie burger and said:

“It’s in the phone book, too.”

The kid’s invited back.

The Latest Celebrity Kabbalah Trend?

christinaChristina Aguliera’s in-laws must have been quite ecstatic that the platininum blond crooner – raised Catholic – was 100% behind her son’s bris, but maybe notsomuch about the party decorations:

She and her husband Jordan Bratman invited friends and family over to welcome their baby Max Liron into the Jewish convenant on Jan. 20, with requisite spread of bagels, lox and … penis balloons.

That’s right, penis balloons. And yes, you can click to enlarge the photo.