T-Shirt of the Week: Take Your Shabbat Shaken, Never Stirred

It’s a new school year and this homage to everyone’s favorite distilled potato libation is available from the Chabad House at Tulane University in New Orleans. Stoked to see that the Jews of NOLA still get their party on!

Me, I’ve never been much of a hard alcohol chick since my college days of drinking whole bottles of sh*tty tequila and puking in the planters outside the dorm, but living in the South forces one to come up with some kind of classy answer to the ubiquitous question “So whatchy’all want to drink?”

And guess what? As a grown-up I’ve discovered that a nice, cold cocktail – sipped slowly, in a glass – is actually an enjoyable thing and won’t provoke me into taking off my shirt in front of a police officer while slurring the lyrics to Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages.”

My new liquid passion is Firefly, a sweet-tea flavored vodka that tastes like a lazy day on the porch, but too many tumblers full and it’ll turn into passed-out-in-your-front-yard-being-peed-on-by-the-neighbor’s-shitzu. Not that I would know anything about that, Ocifer…

L’Chaim to all and Shallot Shabome, or, er, Good Shabbath…Whatever. I just want my rock n’ roll…you betcha.

Kapores: Now That’s Some Funky Chicken

Some Jews’ hideous treatment of animals is receiving yet more negative attention, this time surrounding the mysterious ritual of kapores, the custom of swinging a live chicken ’round one’s head the day before Yom Kippur. JTA reports that dumpsters full of rotting chickens were discovered after the High Holy Days in Brooklyn last year – the trash bags numbering into the hundreds.

This constitutes consumer fraud, according to a complaint that PETA has lodged against one kapporot center in Crown Heights. Since those who participate in the custom expect that the chickens will be donated to charity, and “the center knew it was selling and killing more chickens than it could process, its actions constituted deceptive advertising and consumer fraud, as well as a violation of the principle of ‘ba’al tashchit,’ or wasteful, wanton destruction.”

The idea is that one’s sins are transferred to the fowl while it’s dizzily squawking. But even Maimonides criticized this voodoo-esque ritual as “superstitious” back in the 11th century, and Chabad’s explanation doesn’t seem too complimentary:

The reality is that there is no magic in kapores which transfers a person’s sins to the chicken. Even in the days of the Temple, sins were not magically transferred to an animal. The entire purpose of kapores is to create an experience that inspires a person to teshuvah, that is to return to G-d and to repent. All the sacrifices — and chickens — in the world will not result in forgiveness, unless teshuvah takes place.

The whole business seems pretty freakin’ nasty. I had never even heard of kapores until I started this blog and fell into the giant Jewish portal of the many Torah education sites – there just wasn’t too much chicken-swinging happening in Arizona suburbs in the 80s. But even as I inch my way ever-so-slowly towards a more halachic life, I can guarantee the Yenta Family will always sit this one out.

The good news is that according to some, you can fulfill the terms of kapores by waving money, reciting a few pslams and sticking the cash in the tzedakeh box. Way more humane and smells better.

Jewbano Tzedakeh

Yenta homegirl Sarah Aroeste – she of the Ladino-flavored jazz – is turning her smoky Sephardic eyes to the Jews of Cuba. Not only is she kicking off her fall tour in Cuba, she’s bringing much-needed supplies with her. And you can help!

From the press release:

This past year Sarah has collaborated with acclaimed Cuban-born musician, Roberto Rodriguez. Together, they have launched a project of all original, Sephardic-inspired, Cuban-infused music. Sarah is thrilled to be bringing their song project directly to Cuba next month! If you’d like to be a part of this exciting project, there are several ways you can get involved: In addition to the music she will be presenting, Sarah will also be bringing humanitarian supplies and donations for the Jewish communities of Havana and Cienfuegos.

If you work in the medical or pharmaceutical professions, there are several supplies that have been requested to be brought over. If you’d like to contribute, please click here to find out how. Supplies must arrive either at the Aroeste Music office in NYC by August 31st or at the tour departure point in Miami by Sept. 9th.

Looking forward to Sarah and Roberto’s collaboration – it’s sure be muy caliente. And if you haven’t heard Sarah’s latest album, Puertas, you’re on the wrong side of the door (ha ha, see how I did that?).

Challah Back

Howdy, friends! Before we get back to the Yenta’s regularly scheduled program of Jewishy snarkiness, I want to thank y’all for all the nice emails wondering if we had been abducted by backwater hillbillies and made to do treifful things in the wilderness. Have no fear – we returned safe and sound last week after an amazing, wonderful North Georgia experience, the only banjo-picking to be heard was El Yenta Man’s attempts on his guitar (which was disturbing, but hardly dangerous.)

We rented this sweet little cabin on Lake Nottelly near the tiny town of Blairsville, a rustic retreat where we canoed and fished and barbecued and chased fireflies and bellylaughed over the dog trying to swim and rode horses and tubed down a really cold creek and ate pretty decent Mexican food and soaked in the hot tub and watched the Olympics and unwound from life and enjoyed each other’s company. We brought home a couple souvenirs; a jar of pickled okra, an antique hummingbird letter holder to hang on the front door, and most special of all, a fairy house from Sleepy Hollow Enterprises, made by a retired Disney architect who has created a magical world all his own in the mountains.

This low-budget road trip beat an expensive trek to Disneyworld or dealing with airports, and I feel like I got to know my family again after being a Busy Working Mother for the last year. We rounded out the trip with a stop at Callaway Gardens outside Atlanta, a huge man-made nature preserve full of bike trails and lakes and a butterfly conservatory with hundreds of different species of winged exotic creatures that landed on our heads and brought us eye-to-antennae with the majesty and breadth of creation.

By far the most exciting side activity was a trip to the Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, where you purchase Soylent Greenish pellent snacks and drive your OWN CAR into a park full of giraffes, goats, antelope, cattle, zebra, hilariously scuttling Vietnamese potbellied pigs and crazy-eyed ostriches that stick their drooly heads INSIDE the windows and eat the food and anything else that might get too close – I am telling you it was MESHUGGEH. Yet memorable, and worth the entire bottle of hand sanitizer I doused the children in afterwards. Don’t worry, we left the dog in the front office.

(And how ABOUT dem Olympics, nu? I didn’t really research the Jewish athletes, but hey, that Mary Wineberg sure can move, right? She was smokin’ in that 400m relay and got the gold! Wait, what? A name like Wineberg, but not Jewish? Man, I gotta get my head back into my Google;) But I do know my main woman Dara Torres not only got her two silver medals but also proved herself a true sportswoman and mensch, if we may apply that to a woman, for her insistence that the judges wait for the Swedish swimmer to change a ripped suit.)

You may have noticed that this is a pictureless post. For all the fun, love and laughter the Family Yenta experienced on our trip, apparently the price was the loss of all our photos while trying to download them. *sigh* Guess you just had to be there.

Reason #23 To Go Vegetarian

Man, Agriprocessors, the behemoth kosher meat plant in Iowa, has had some major tsuris these past few months! They got busted for illegal workers in May, then in June some of their old meat surfaced at summer camps, and now this:

From AP: DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa labor officials said Tuesday that they had uncovered dozens of child labor violations at the nation’s biggest supplier of kosher meat…The types of violations included minors working in prohibited occupations, exceeding allowable hours for youth to work, failure to obtain work permits, exposure to hazardous chemicals and working with prohibited tools.

Full article here.

C’mon, just try the tofu – you just might like it…

Savannah Artsy-Fartsy Scene

If you’re in the neighborhood, two young, hip Jews have cool shows up around town:

First off, Rachel Raab, an adorable and talented dreadlocked moppet with a fantastic PEZ collection, has a retrospective of her fine art photography up at the JEA. It’s a colorful, twisted mix of landscapes, animals and inked, pierced people – I freakin’ love it. I interviewed Rachel for the upcoming “Women to Watch” issue of skirt! last week – she’s only 24, and I get that “She’s going to be famous in 10 years” vibe big time.

Her photos are hung just past the lobby on the way to the fitness center. It was a trip to see which photos people gravitated to – folks really love her large landscape triptych, though some scratched their heads at the guy underwater with the tattooed neck.

We took the portrait for the magazine at the exhibit, but I convinced Rachel to let me follow her home so I could snap a shot of her PEZ:

And that’s only like half of ‘em. See more of Rachel’s work at Raabstract.com.

I’ve never met Ian Aleksander Adams, but I was in the Sentient Bean this week and while sipping my Earl Gray I recognized the Holy Land in the photos on the wall. The work is a product of a Taglit Birthright trip Ian took recently, and I thought his stark landscapes captured the ancient, dusty place that exists behind the shiny, modern cities. He writes in his artist statement that his work is non-political, which I agree with, but it is evocative of the complexity of how an American Jew feels about Israel.

I’m very much looking forward to Ian’s next project, Knees Are Weird. (‘Cause, dude, they so are!)

Check these two out all month long!

Coming Next: Piranha Facials

Right, so last week we had pig Botox, and now a salon near Washington, D.C. is touting nibbly fish as the very latest in spa pedicures:

Patrons at the Yvonne Hair and Nails are treated to a footbath full of hungry carp to rid tootsies of those unsightly rough spots on heels and toes. Spa owner Jon Ho wanted to “come up with something unique while finding a replacement for pedicures that use razors to scrape off dead skin. The razors have fallen out of favor with state regulators because of concerns about whether they’re sanitary.”

Because fish poop is verrry clean, dontcha know?

This photo was sent to me by a dear friend who swears her feet have never been so soft:


Me, I prefer my fish dead, smoked and on a bagel.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like A Jewish Nun?

The whole extended Yenta family’s getting a huge kick out of this one:

Our Israeli cousin, Mikhal Shiff, is playing Mother Superior in a Jerusalem production of The Sound of Music.

Mikhal is a classically-trained singer, music teacher and surely a shoe-in for the role, but the most hilarious part of her wearing a nun habit?

She’s a cantor.

*snort* tee hee hee…I’ll never be able to listen to her High Holy Days liturgy again without thinking of her in this pengiun outfit…

Don’t Mess With The Pig

I will not deny that I am more than a little vain. I happily wear undergarments that make my tushy look smooth as glass, and thanks to my mother’s scolding wisdom, I have been using eye cream since I was 11.

But I have limits on what I will do to preserve my delicate Polish beauty (mostly because I am cheap and lazy, hence my campaign to bring prematurely gray hair and quick-bitten fingernails into high style) and I definitely draw the line at injecting diseases that kill entire African villages into my laugh lines.

Now that the FDA has approved pig collagen shots as the latest way to play on America’s obsession over growing old ungracefully, I can just play the trayf card, nu?

Thanks to Adam S. for the tip! ~