Einstein in His Undies

As if General Motors didn’t have enough problems with the ink on the bankruptcy papers still fresh and a bunch of pissed off Union workers with lawyers and chains at the ready, now they’ve got the Israelis on their tuchus:

The Detroit auto company has been slapped with a lawsuit by Hebrew University in Jerusalem for the unapproved use of Albert Einstein’s image in this ad that ran in the September issue of People magazine.

Hebrew U has overseen the usage rights to Einstein’s publicity since the physicist willed them to to the school after his death in 1955 and has shilled out his frizzy-haired image plenty of advertising campaigns over the years, including sodas. But they draw the line at a freshly-inked Al slouching in his Calvin Kleins:

“The tattooed, shirtless image of Dr. Einstein with his underpants on display is not consummate with and causes injury to (the university’s) carefully guarded rights in the image and likeness of the famous scientist, political activist, and humanitarian,” wrote Hebrew University lawyer Antoinette Waller.

I’m sure the ad man who created it (though I guess it’s equally plausible that a woman could have come up with such juvenile irony) thought Photoshopping a smart head on a ripped body was a clever way to associate GM’s brand with some sort of intellect. But someone should’ve told him or her that while some ideas might be sexy, but that doesn’t mean they’re good ideas. And doesn’t such a campaign run the risk of backfiring for pushing intellectual elitism? After all, you’re marketing to an audience that buys Chevys.

Personally, I don’t need to see Albert Einstein in his skivvies to think he’s hot — his quest to unify the world’s political theories so that all the stupid warmongers could stop posturing once and for all has always been swoonworthy enough.

Farmer D, Et Tu?

It was a sad day for Savannah’s single ladies when hot Jewish agronomist Daron “Farmer D” Joffe relocated to Atlanta a few years ago. Sure, true sycophants can still get their hands dirty in his signature compost blend, but it’s just not the same.

So what a delight to see his cute punim pop up on the VH-1 reality show “What Chilli Wants.” (No, I still don’t have cable, but a friend alerted me that one of my favorite men in a skirt was in the spotlight again.) Pretty Chilli — formerly of the girl group TLC and single mama — is looking for love in unusual places, and I guess it doesn’t get more unusual than a Jewish guy on a tractor.

Chilli wears a ginormous cross and is up front about her faith, so I was looking forward to how this was gonna play out, considering Farmer D’s well-documented connections with the Atlanta Jewish community.

On their first date, Chilli got super googly-eyed at Farmer D’s non-denominational blessing over their meal. On their second date, things seemed to moving along well until she asks him “So, do you go to church here?” He swallows big and says “Um, like, ‘church’ church?”

I was holding my breath to see how he’d announce his Judaism. Would he lay claim to one of Atlanta’s 35 synagogues? Would he brandish his V’Havta necklace from ModernTribe.com? Would he go full-on reality show wack and drop his pants?

His answer made both Chilli and I choke: He got all nervousy and claimed to be an “athiest.” In fact, he seemed to be taking great pains to avoid the Jewish question altogether — calling himself “confused” and “spiritual but not religious.” Clearly, his wishwashiness is a deal breaker for Chilli: (dinner starts around 2:40.)

Daron, dahlin’, you’re breakin’ this Jewish mother’s heart — it’s not for me to judge whether you date Jewish, but don’t be ashamed of who you are. You might’ve gotten further with Chilli if you’d announced your plans to join the yeshiva — she seems to admire adherence to any faith, even if it’s not hers.

*sigh* Such a shanda that nice Lisa Loeb isn’t doing her reality dating show anymore – might be a better shidduch, D.

Brand New Hat

Wednesday already? So sorry for my absence, friends. Y’all vote me Best Local Blogger and then I do a disappearing act like some meshuggneh celebrity who can’t handle the spotlight? Promise, I haven’t let the fame go to my head — please, let me ‘splain myself:

I’ve been busy getting up to speed for my new gig as Director of Communications at the esteemed Georgia Historical Society, one of the oldest cultural institutions in the country. To those outside Savannah, it might sound like some stuffy, dusty place filled with Confederate flags and little old ladies wringing their lace-gloved hands, but this stunning little library is actually a bustling hub of activity that oversees educational programming, a couple of magazines, genealogical services and all of those cool the statewide historical markers that I always pull over the van for — which, by the way, don’t just commemorate some forgotten military action but tell stories about African American history, the role of women in Georgia and other parts of history that won’t make you fall asleep.

The building itself is an architectural jewel, built in 1876 and occupied by the GHS ever since. Inside, tiers of dark wood house an incredible assemblage rare photographs, maps and documents relating to the 13th colony — including an original draft of the U.S. Constitution. GHS also houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Jewish life in the South, the Savannah Jewish Archives. (And would you believe I’ve made it in? SJA Chair Kay Kole just told me that the Connect article about Yo, Yenta! has been added to the clip file for future generations so — such an honor!)

So you can see why my nerdy little heart is just beating with joy that I get to help bring all of this to the people. Don’t worry, I’ll still be your Yenta as long as you’ll have me — I can’t wait to share what I find digging around in the stacks.

Please, come on over to for a tour, but let me get settled in — I’ve only got like 250 years to catch up on first, no big deal.

Another Week Squeaks By…

There’s been awards, there’s been parties, there’s been a cheesy holiday that really should be important that I kinda skipped so I could attend the awards and parties.

There’s been an anti-Semitic video game on Comedy Central created by Jews that’s been edited but not taken down. Keep emailing, people.

It’s been a busy week for this meshuggeh Jewish mother. Did I mention that a fungus is slowly killing my tomato plants? And that El Yenta Man is off surfing in Costa Rica? Oh, and that I start a new job on Monday?

So I must say I’m really looking forward to welcoming the Shabbat Queen — the Divine Feminine presence that breathes the beauty and sacredness into the Sabbath — through the door this evening. It’s funny, as heretical as I’d like to be, I still find deep comfort in the mitzvah of lighting candles on Friday nights and turning off the laptop for a whole day. What would be even more awesome is if the Sabbath Queen would lend me one of her accompanying minions to clean the house.

A wonderful weekend to all, whatever you’re welcoming through the door tonight. Please enjoy the warmth and beauty of “The Queen of Shabbat” by Ukrainian-born painter Elena Kotliarkerclick here for a closer look.

Shanda-less Self-Promotion

El Yenta Man and I finally managed to get to Connect Savannah‘s Best of 2010 Bash last night after split-attending a soccer game, a piano lesson, a PTA meeting (at which Yenta Boy won a district-wide essay contest! kvell, kvell) and a walk with a constipated dog.

I missed my name called the first time, but fortunately, Connect Savannah‘s editor Jim Morekis gallantly gave me another chance to accept my “Best Local Blogger” award and show off my farpitzed* self. (*farpitzed – sounds like a bodily function, but it means “done up to the nines” in Yiddish.)

Jim also penned this mighty kind article about your Yenta for the paper, which includes my most favorite quote I’ve ever given while blathering on about myself:

“I’m just trying to make sense of the otherness I’ve always lived with and reveled in. Who wants to fit in, anyway?”

I sent it a couple of different photos for Jim to use on my bio, and even though I lurve photographer Jade McCully‘s original that’s in the paper, I think this snap taken late in the evening at a recent supersonic bat mitzvah might’ve fit better with the quote:

Thank you so much to all who voted. Read the rest of the Best of 2010 Winners here!

I Was Told There’d Be Cheesecake

This evening marks the beginning of Shavuot, kind of wallflower Jewish holiday that always seems to get a bit lost as the school years ends.

It’s actually a nice little “jewbilee,” even for us do-it-yourself Jews who don’t like rituals that require cleaning out every closet in the house with a toothbrush or swinging live chickens. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah to our man Moses on Mt. Sinai, seven weeks after our peeps got the hell outta Dodge Egypt so many centuries ago. It evolved into late spring harvest festival at the big ol’ temple King Solomon built; however, once all the Jews dispersed all over the planet like dandelion spores, it’s been known as the Rodney Dangerfield of Jewish holidays.

It really should be a big deal for the Abrahamic religions since that’s when the Ten Commandments came down, but here in America, it’s still gets no respect. Tablet‘s Marissa Brostoff explores why such an important holiday gets the shaft and how some synagogues are selling Shavuot to the next generation. Some hipsters have started hosting super cool all-nighters — hilarious comedian Sandra Bernhard headlines this year in San Francisco! — and I love the idea of bringing a cow to shul for the kids to milk to connect the tradition of serving dairy deliciousness.

Shavuot is generally celebrated some late-night study with the rabbis, a reading of the Book of Ruth, putting a vase of pretty flowers on the table and — get this — eating cheesecake. I don’t even remember Shavout growing up Reform in Arizona, but this explains my deep obsession for creamy sweet softness in a graham cracker crust — it’s rooted in my DNA.

Lip-smacking aside, Shavuot also features one of my favorite Torah tales, one of the few starring women with a speaking role. The Book of Ruth takes place during a time of famine, when Jewish mother Naomi has to move to Moab with her husband, who promptly dies. Her sons marry outside the Tribe, then they die. Noami is left with her shiksa daughters-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth, who she tries to convince to go back to their own people. Orpah does leave, but Ruth stays, giving one of the most beautiful speeches any Jewish mother wants to hear:

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

Ruth becomes the first “righteous convert” to Judaism, not necessarily out of love for God, but out of love for Naomi. (Writer David Plotz does an amazing theological/social interpretation of her choice in this piece on Slate.com.)

I relate to Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi on a personal level. As some of you know, my mother-in-law, once a brilliant and kind lady, has deteriorated these last few years at the unmerciful hands of dementia. We still lived in California when she was diagnosed with cancer before that, and she pooh-poohed us when we offered to come and comfort her. “You guys just take care of the baby. I’ll be fine,” she’d say. She never, ever would have asked us to move back to Savannah to help her and my father-in-law get used to the rotten inevitability of this disease. I don’t know how helpful we actually are, but we did come. Not out of obligation or guilt, but out of love.

So you see, like Ruth, I did convert. Yes, I’m already Jewish, but I love my mother-in-law so much I became SOUTHERN, y’all.

Heheheh. I’d love to tell you I’ll be davening tonight and stuffing my face with cheese blintzes at synagogue. Instead, I’ll be celebrating the handing down of a different, much less significant-to-anyone-but-me type of scroll – a certificate that says I’ve been voted “Best Local Blogger” by the readers of Connect Savannah. I’m still shocked by the honor — there aren’t enough Jews in Savannah to lobby for this, so apparently some of you are just here for the food.

I promise to catch up on Torah study tomorrow with a big fat slice of blueberry cheesecake.

Comedy Central: WTF?

Look, Comedy Central – it’s fine when Jon Stewart makes occasional, self-deprecating Jewish references on your network because he’s one of us.

But this “game” on the CC web site called “I.S.R.A.E.L. Attack!” is TOTAL ANTI-SEMITIC CRAP. Featuring someone called “Jew Producer” who fails to destroy another character and thus sends in the “Intelligent Smart Robot Animation Eraser Lady” (I.S.R.A.E.L.) to do the job, this game is outrageous, especially considering the ass-kissing — and self-censoring — your network had to do recently to appease the Muslim whackos after an episode of South Park presented the prophet Mohammed dressed as a bear.

Readers, if you can stand the juvenile graphics, watch this:

Original Video– More videos at TinyPic

How is this considered acceptable? I first saw this on the Jewish Internet Defense Force site and apparently, it’s based on a movie called The Drawn Together Movie — which appears to be produced by Jews.

So it’s not some hate-filled plot against Jews, it’s a bunch of self-hating Jews who would rather spit in their grandmother’s eye than develop an actual sense of humor.

Still, you should write to Comedy Central about “I.S.R.A.E.L. Attacks!” and tell them that you find the gave repulsive and offensive. You can also join the Facebook group: “Comedy Central – I.S.R.A.E.L. Attack game is offensive. Remove it.” and tweet it out @ComedyCentral on Twitter!

Schooling Glenn Beck

Oy, everyone likes to pull the “Nazi card” when there’s something bigoted afoot, but rarely does the comparison really apply — even the new Arizona immigration law doesn’t stand up to genocide. My main man Lewis Black knows how to smack a hypocrite in the mouth – if only figuratively:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Glenn Beck’s Nazi Tourette’s
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

A Battle To Nourish The Masses

So Israel and Lebanon have had their scuffles, most recently in 2006 when Israel bombed the crap out of Beirut in order to stop Hezbollah terrorists from raining over loads and loads of Katyusha rockets.

But apparently, that’s not even the biggest reason for the rivalry: Forget bombs, it’s about FOOD. Both countries claim that hummus, the traditional Middle Eastern dip made from chick peas and tahini is their special cultural contribution to world cuisine, and the battle is ON.

Last Saturday, over 300 Lebanese chefs helped break the Guinness World Record for the biggest plate of hummus, taking the distinction away from the Israelis. The previous record of 4,090 kilograms — 8998 pounds — was surpassed by over 6000 kilos — that’s almost 23,000 POUNDS of hummus, people. You could fill every bomb crater on both sides and still have enough left over to spread on a piece of pita the size of New Jersey.

Now Lebanon is after the falafel record — which means enough fried balls to bury both countries.

This gastronomic rivalry between two countries still technically at war seems almost, well, civilized. If everyone is well-fed and working, what’s the point of war? Can either country honestly lay claim to dishes that go back so many thousands of years? Surely mothers on both sides of these modern borders slaved away over hot stoves to feed their families these dishes and were annoyed when no one cleared their plates.

I’d like to delve deeper into that big vat of hummus, but all I can think about is lunch — and what a wonderful world it would be if the IDF and Hezbollah would start lobbing falafel balls and hummus back and forth.