Amy F.J. Stone Visits Savannah

Lookee here! It’s a lovely story about Savannah in The Miami Herald courtesy of Ms. Amy F.J. Stone.

Naturally, the Lilith magazine co-founder found the feminist bent:

Savannah’s women rescued its history

 A man, Gen. James Oglethorpe, founded the city of Savannah and the colony of Georgia in 1733. Before he’d even gotten off the ship with the first settlers, he’d laid out the street grid and squares for one of America’s first planned cities. But if it hadn’t been for the ladies, Savannah wouldn’t be what it is today…

S’funny, I had a Purim hallucination about meeting the fabulous Ms. Stone a few months back and sharing some of my homemade pear brandy. We traipsed up and down Bull Street (aka “the spine of Savannah”) and talked about Girl Scouts and feminism and Jewishness and her travels in China.

I guess her article, published as part of the Travel Arts Syndicate (sounds like the best mafia EVER), means that it wasn’t just a confused brandy flashback.

More Melungeons and Columbus Conspiracy Theories

Much ado has been made about a DNA study released last week that found that descendants of the Melungeons, those mysterious dark-skinned Appalachian mountainfolk, aren’t who they thought they were.

Or who I thought they were.

The study found genetic evidence that Melungeons came from the union of sub-Saharan African men and central European women—basically, the mixed-race offspring of black men and white women working as indentured servants in the first days of the American colonies—not the amalgam of Native American, Turkish and Portuguese genes that Melungeon Pride groups have come to herald as their ancestry.

While I agree with the Discover blog that other genetic lineages could have died out over the centuries, my theory that Melungeons were Portuguese Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition appears to have bit the dust.

However, my other favorite Jewish American conspiracy—that Christopher Columbus was in fact Queen Isabella’s favorite Jew and sent off to the New World in order to save his tushie—continues to gain momentum:


Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano, whose survival depended upon the suppression of all evidence of his Jewish background in face of the brutal, systematic ethnic cleansing.

In his last will and testament, Columbus directed a ten percent tithe to the poor, specifically indicating someone in the Lisbon’s Jewish Quarter, and signed the document with a triangular cluster of dots—a secret symbol for Mourner’s Kaddish and perhaps a decree to his sons to recite the prayer for him after he died. Scholars have also concluded that Columbus wrote and spoke Castilian Spanish, from which the Jewish language Ladino derived. (Ladino is the Spanish Yiddish—do you think “Ay, Caramba” is the equivalent of “Oy, Vey”?)

Think it’s all meshuggeh? (That would be “loco” in Ladino.) Here’s the rest of Charles Garcia’s article.

Geez, Columbus Day is already crazy controversial; not sure I want to know what happens when you add a Jewish layer on that…


So Hard to Type With This Sceptre In My Hand…

Muchas thank yous to all those who helped the Yenta continue my reign as Best Local Blogger as voted by the readers of Connect Savannah!

As I rambled in my acceptance speech at Tuesday’s awards party, I’m not really sure why or how a loud Jewish hippie mama has continued to capture the attention and slaving adoration of a mostly conservative, very Christian Southern city, but life’s weird.

I’m just grateful you’ve bore with me this year as I’ve had to switch-up being a full-time yenta to becoming Connect’s community editor and Civil Society columnist. There’s just of much of me to read, but it’s mostly here these days.

Hoops, hollers and kvells to El Yenta Man, who was voted Best Personal Trainer! StrongGym was also voted runner up for Best Fitness Club after only a year in business. Guess that makes us a power couple. If you need EYM, he’ll be in the backyard powering up the lawn mower.

Bill Dawers, the gracious runner up for Best Blogger and many-yeared king of the Best Newspaper Columnist category (who pointed out that there’s no way this thing is rigged if he, “a freelancer for a rival publication” keeps winning), is also a damn fine photographer; check some pretty party pictures here.

Because I have a small black cloud of disaster that follows me and occasionally rains down hilarious irony, you may notice that things look a little different around here. I woke up two days ago to write this acceptance post and found that nine years worth of blog posts had melted into a soup of gobdelgooky HTML code: Something exploded in the bowels of my server and would all still be a hideous mess if not for Adam Singer, rabbi and chief geek at AJ Singer Studios, his website design company.

Not only did he transfer everything over to a new site and get things working again, I think he may have kashered my WordPress platform. He gets my vote for Best Tech Support next year!

UPDATE: Here’s this week’s Civil Society Column, “All Hail the Geeks,” on WordPress wonder woman Jane Wells.

Sunday Morning Sniffles

Today was the last Shalom School session of the year, and though I am verrrry much looking forward to spending my Sunday mornings contemplating the ladybugs on my favorite dahlia plant instead of herding a gaggle of 5 year-olds into submission with promises of challah and stickers, I sure am gonna miss those little kinders.

I’m feeling fairly farkelmpt about it, in fact. No more “David Melech Yisrael” handjive or knocking down the Tower of Babel made of wooden blocks. Or giving in to the roaring hilarity that, yes, Adam and Eve were in fact, NAKED. And where else can a grown woman hoard glitter and crayons without attracting the attention of the authorities?

One of my favorite parts of Shalom School is coming up with crafts made out of cheap (ahem, free) everyday objects. Last week we learned about Shavuot a little early with some brown lunch bags and what I consider to be the best invention given to humankind since the Torah: Glue sticks.

First, we crumpled up the bags to make them look really, really old. Then we cut them into tablet shapes, just like the ones Moses shlepped down from Mount Sinai, only much lighter. Then everyone had to glue down the 10 Commandments in order, which sounds easy but you’re not in kindergarten, are you?

Anyway, I had a great time with these, talking through the commandments and finding a child-friendly translation for adultery (let’s just call it “Do not cheat,” ‘kay, kids?)

Another one of my favorite projects is making mezuzot out of tongue depressors and cardboard tubes that come from the bottom of drycleaner hangers that I filch from the dumpster. This may sound sacreligious, but when all is said and done, these Jewish kids have a mezuzah for the doorposts of their bedrooms, which everyone knows keeps out the monsters.

The scroll gets tucked in the top, see? Even though the prayers are only copies, not the fancy kosher parchment kind, I still counsel the kids that the words are precious and should be treated with respect. Unless they want the monsters to get them. Just kidding. Maybe.

I’m sharing these with y’all in the hopes you’ll pass them on to Hebrew school educators everywhere, as I don’t foresee supervising these projects anymore as I am officially retiring from teaching kindergarten. If anyone’s interested, I also have cheap-n-awesome seder plate craft that I’m happy to share.

But just because I’m hanging up my rounded scissors doesn’t mean I won’t be teaching Shalom School come next fall. I will be–to the seventh graders. A bunch of brainy, too-cool-for-shul, b’nai mitzvah know-it-alls.

Sure, they may read Hebrew way better than me and can talk d’var Torah like other kids analyze their friends’ Facebook updates.

But if they think they’re too old for glue sticks and glitter, they don’t know the Yenta, yo.

For the Yiddishe Mamas

Nu, such a lovely tribute to the Jewish mother, acknowledging the endless chores and sacrifices of motherhood. Even if the serene mother in this video has not a hair in her sheitel out of place nor does her frying pan contain a speck of stubborn cooked-on gristle.

And nevermind that it’s basically a promo for Israeli company Wissotzky Tea. Though the lady exudes the calm that I couldn’t achieve even with a column of Xanax, the low-pro product placement keeps it classy:

Tea makes a nice Mother’s Day present, no doubt. I loooooves me some tea. Every day. With milk and honey.

But, as I argue in this week’s Civil Society Column, there is no greater gift to the modern mother than…birth control.

Read it here.

Holocaust education: You’re doing it wrong

This week in wacky Southern public school news: A seventh-grade social studies teacher has been indicted for assault and battery after calling a student “a Jew” and dragging him under a desk.

Witnesses told police that Patricia Mulholland grabbed the kid by the collar when he got up to sharpen his pencil with the command “Come here, Jew.” The she lugged him under a table and said “This is what the Nazis do to the Jews!”

Sound like someone mixed some Percoset with her morning coffee after staying up too late on But Mulholland’s lawyer claims she was just employing a creative lesson about the Holocaust.

“What was a demonstrative attempt to teach about World War II and the Holocaust has been taken to mean an anti-Semitic rant and it was nothing like that,” said her attorney, Robert Ferguson.

Hmm, noting that she was quoted as declaring what Nazis do in the present tense, I’m gonna have to go with the Percoset defense.

Police haven’t released the information on whether the student was Jewish or not; if he was, he’s going to have a helluva bar mitzvah speech.

Isn’t middle school awkward enough without your teachers going batsh*t?