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October 2014
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Stories
Flickr/marta ... maduixaaaa
Have bucket list; will travel
Joelle learns the art of patience during life changes.
By Joelle Abramowitz · Posted August 21, 2014


“I walk a middle path, not leaning to the one extreme of being inactive and fatalistic — because that way I negate the powers I do have, limited though they might be — nor veering to the other, where impatience reigns.” – Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness


Six years ago, after having ever spent all of 24 hours in Seattle, I moved there for grad school. I shipped nearly all of my belongings to a house in East Lake that I’d never seen and that I’d live in with roommates I’d never met. 

I got a lot of advice during that time before I moved. Among the advice I got, one coworker of mine told me that I should drive cross-country — that there were beautiful sites to see, that there was nothing quite like it, and it was so nice to do the trip with his wife when he moved her from Seattle to the DC area. I could only say that I’d decided to ship my car instead, but that maybe, one day, I would make the drive.

It wasn’t like I didn’t want to take my coworker’s advice. I actually thought the cross-country drive sounded amazing. But I didn’t want to do it alone, and I didn’t have someone to go with. I’d recently been through a break-up, and of all the friends I could think of either didn’t have the disposable income or didn’t have the disposable time. It was also likely the case that amidst all the big life changes and uncertainty about the future, I didn’t really want to deal with the logistics of planning an all-out adventure. But once my co-worker had had chimed in with his insistent suggestions, despite his best intentions, they really just made me feel worse. Once I had an idea of all the exciting things I could be doing, but was missing out on, I couldn’t help but think about how lovely the trip would be and why the circumstances were such that I couldn’t make it a reality. Even more, what if this was my only chance? What if I’d never have the opportunity again?

Despite the disappointment I felt in not doing the drive, I did make it to Seattle, as did my car, and I would live there for the next five years. Once I arrived, I had my hands full with other challenges aside from my hypothetical trip that never came to fruition: problem sets, dating that went awry, trying to make friends. The first few years, and the first year in particular, were rough, and I often felt lonely.

Fast forward a few years, and by the time I left Seattle, I had developed a nice social network. I’d taken lots of trips with the friends I’d met there — road trips to San Luis Obispo, through Oregon to the Redwoods, and around LA, Yosemite, and Sequoia National Park. I’d done my fair share of hikes and backpacking. I’d cooked and baked and biked, had long conversations over long walks, hosted dinners, and brunches, and tea parties.

So, five years after I’d moved to Seattle, it came time for me to move back to the DC area. This time, while I was probably even more anxious than I’d been the first time around, I did have the wherewithal to be able to plan a trip. And my future employer even subsidized the drive as a perk of my employment package. It seemed like it was time to make this dream into a reality, but I was left with one missing piece: a buddy. I had a friend I wanted to ask, but I was afraid: maybe she wouldn’t have the time, maybe she wouldn’t want to spend it with me, maybe she wouldn’t share my vision of how wonderful this trip could be. Despite my fears, I did muster the courage to ask, and I’m so glad that I did. She was on board. She was excited and supportive and exactly the person I needed to see this through. She was the right person, and it was the right time in our lives. 

A year ago, we set out. We saw many amazing sights – some extraordinary and some ordinary, and some more exciting in hindsight than in the moment. I recall the majesty of Glacier National Park, the surreal South Dakota formations of Devil’s Tower and the Badlands and Wall Drug, the quaintness of Madison, the sketchiness of the Red Roof Inn in Schaumburg, Illinois, and the eeriness of Gettysburg at night. I remember as we made our way South Dakota at night on the Fourth of July watching the fireworks on the skylines of the different cities we drove by. And I can see in my mind the lightning bugs lighting up the night around us as we made our way around the Midwest. We traveled over miles and miles of open road and saw places so different than what we were used to or what laid ahead of us in our lives. We listened to books on tape, we got fancy flavored coconut water at rest stops, we searched for decent vegetarian food. We talked about lots of things — communal living, Jewish observance, cycling nutrition and hydration, and so on. While there were moments of uncertainty and exhaustion, we persevered. In short, it was all that I could have asked for it to be.

This year, my life is different. I’m settled into my apartment, and my longest excursion is my commute to the office. Instead of being anxious about the uncertainty of what is to come, I’m satisfied in my being productive at work and in meeting new people, learning new things, and ever so slowly, building new relationships. 

Looking back, I realize now that we can only connect with people when it is the right time in each of our lives. But there is a beauty in sharing ourselves with others, and it is made more beautiful by the reality that it is our choice to make and the realization that the right time is only very fleeting. Now that I’ve had that experience, it no longer eats away at me. So when my heart aches for doing the items on my bucket list, I try to remind myself that the road is long and I never know who I’ll find along the way.

 


Twenty-five years later: Still laughing at Seinfeld
It's been 25 years since America's neurotic Jewish TV show changed television history forever.
By Boris Kurbanov · Posted July 29, 2014

Twenty-five years ago this month, The Seinfeld Chronicles made its debut and four borderline sociopaths living in existential desperation made their way into our lives for the next nine years.

The “show about nothing,” which NBC execs initially didn’t believe would click with audiences while calling its premise “too New York, too Jewish,” was given just four episodes to justify its existence before being taken off the air for a year. Had it not been for the tireless efforts of one executive who saw the show’s potential, the series would have never made it past the pilot, in which we find Jerry and George having an inane argument about placement of shirt buttons in a bustling coffee shop. It was fair to call the initial four episodes a work in progress.

Oh, but did it ever make a glorious return, going on to redefine the sitcom genre and transcend television as we know it, celebrating the excruciating minutiae and annoyingness of everyday existence, whether it be waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant or being annoyed with people who double dip, people who eat their peas one at a time or being annoyed at, well, just about anything. Seinfeld was a massive success, serving as appointment viewing for more than 76 million Americans at the height of its popularity in the ’90s, and becoming one of the most successful shows in U.S. television history, kvetching and kvelling its way to the top of Arthur Nielsen Media Research Ratings every year from 1994 to 1998.

Seinfeld, which still airs in syndication on more than 250 stations across the country on prime real estate, provided laser-sharp observations about our culture while dealing with an array of Jewish issues, whether that be difficulties finding a mohel, coping with blabby rabbis, falling for women for their “shiksappeal,” being mildly outraged with people who convert to Judaism for the wrong reasons or shopping for the perfect chocolate babka. Seinfeld was a sitcom like no other, in which the characters never learned a lesson in morality and the error of their ways or subsequently grew more mature as a result of their actions. Most episodes painted two bleak worldviews: Most people are inherently bad (and not very bright), or caring about other people’s feelings is absurd (and not very practical, either).

Much of the show’s observational and innocuous brand of humor and coffee-shop banter was based on surviving daily in a world of small but humiliating situations, and discussing them all with your self-pitying and neurotic friends afterward — a group of people sitting around and doing, famously, nothing. But besides the phrases it gave us — “sponge-worthy,” “shrinkage” and “yada yada,” its quotability and its perpetuation in syndicated reruns, the themes Seinfeld was built around are so very universal.

Who, at one point, hasn’t thought about arguing with a clerk after getting wrong change, or confronting someone for taking credit for something they didn’t do? This stuff isn’t just shtick—it’s a masterful rendering of the absurd and the all-too-true.

Our society’s appreciation for the show has even spawned various “Seinfeld to go” Twitter accounts such as @Seinfeldtoday and @Seinfeld2000, which imagine what the show would be like if it were still on the air, perfectly capture the mocking “no hugging, no learning” philosophy that formed Seinfeld’s core in 140 characters or less while racking up a whopping 1.2 million followers.

Twenty-five years later, it is not hyperbolic to say that Seinfeld is one of the most culturally important comedic works of its generation, painting an honest picture of the inextricable frustrations of modern life. The show’s work is still felt in more contemporary shows like How I Met Your Mother, Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (and previously, The Office). It’s best legacy, however, is Seinfeld writer Larry David’s cringe-inducing HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, which takes the everyday comic absurdity and selfishness of Seinfeld to a new level as Larry David fumbles through his vain life offending absolutely everyone.

The show that was supposedly about “nothing” was, in fact, about everything. “Look around, life is full of characters,” its creators seemed to be telling us. “There are more Georges, Kramers, Elaines and Newmans around you than you know, and the world itself is much, much stranger than you give it credit for.”

 

 

 


Not your sister’s rom-com
Jenny Slate breaks out in a much-needed, subversive romantic comedy.
By Boris Kurbanov · Posted June 30, 2014

If you’ve heard anything about Obvious Child in the past month, chances are you’re under the impression it’s a film centered on abortion. After all, the movie, which stars SNL alumna Jenny Slate, has been billed as an “abortion comedy,” But Obvious Child isn’t about abortion or the politics of abortion—well it is, but it’s a rom-com that just happens to feature an abortion—it’s a thread throughout the film that writer-director Gillian Robespierre is weaving, and is certainly not the climax.

At the heart of Obvious Child is Slate, who appears in every scene as a stand-up comic named Donna Stern, an aimless, oversharing, late-twentysomething Jewish Brooklynite who is having a miserable few weeks. It’s difficult to sympathize with Donna at first, and a major reason is due to her material, rooted in Semitism and complete with raunchy jokes about vaginas and body fluids in a grimy comedy club. But Donna, a self-described “menorah on top of the [Christmas] tree that burns it down,” begins to gain our compassion after being mercilessly dumped by her longtime boyfriend—in a public bathroom, no less—and losing her bookstore job in the course of 24 hours. And that’s just the beginning of her troubles. Oh, and her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her friend.

After exhibiting unhealthy breakup behavior—guzzling wine, leaving angry and sometimes apologetic drunken voice mails for her ex and even standing across the street from his apartment, or what she calls “a little light stalking”—Donna finds herself in full self-pity mode after bombing a set one night and having a drink (or five) with fellow comedian friend Joey (Slate’s real-life comedy partner Gabe Liedman) and a business student named Max (Jake Lacy). Max is, for all intents and purposes, seemingly a nice rebound, but isn’t at all her type. After getting hammered with Max in a true “one thing led to another” fashion, Donna finds herself pregnant.

Cut to a few weeks and one missed period later, and we have Donna weighing her options. Upon realizing—while breaking down in the back of a taxi—that having a baby at this point in her life would be a terrible idea, she schedules an abortion on, of all dates, Valentine’s Day. Now it’s up to Donna to find a way to let those in her immediate circle know about her situation, and that includes her parents, and, of course, Max. It is at this point the movie takes a departure from the typical rom-com unplanned pregnancy ilk (think Knocked Up or Juno). But unlike the Apatowian Knocked Up, which tip-toed around the subject of abortion with a nervous laugh, Robespierre doesn’t make a big deal of it. Instead, she normalizes the experience that so many women have without resorting to crusading for abortion rights, and making her message clear at the same time: Women should be able to have sex without having to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Her point is well-taken: Sometimes, after deciding what’s best for them, women just decide they’re not ready or responsible enough for a child, and, because abortions are legal in the U.S., at least in the early stages, they get an abortion and life goes on.

Once at Planned Parenthood, Donna maintains her sense of humor through the tears: “I would like an abortion, please. Sorry, that sounded like I was ordering in a drive-through.” With the exception of scenes like these, Robespierre moves Obvious Child in a quick pace, as her lead character goes through the process of scheduling and getting the procedure with the support of those around her. While serving as the film’s catalyst, the subject of abortion doesn’t even come into the story until nearly halfway through, and even then, it’s not the immediate focus of the film. Robespierre does not have an agenda here; rather, she is busy establishing Donna’s personality, her vulnerability, her feelings for Max, and her relationship with her parents, Jacob and Nancy, who nudge her toward more responsibility. (Donna refers to her mother as “an Eileen Fisher ninja.”)

The most moving scene is clearly Donna telling Nancy about her plans to terminate the pregnancy. Donna confesses that she, too, had an abortion, and has no regrets. Those of us with Jewish mothers will particularly enjoy Nancy’s reaction to Donna’s announcement that she’s pregnant: “Thank God,” she says. “I thought you were moving to L.A.!”

While Donna schleps between the houses of her divorced parents, one of the film’s shortcomings is that Donna never confides in her father. If she can tell her mom, with whom she has a fraught relationship and already risks disapproval, why can’t she have a heart-to-heart with her doting, understanding dad?

Obvious Child, an immediate indie hit at Sundance, is an unapologetically pro-choice, pro-mixed marriage film with roots in Jewish values, based on Robespierre’s 20-minute 2009 short film of the same title, in which Slate also stars. Robespierre and Slate, whose dramatic range is a nice surprise, take a sensitive and often-political subject, and turn it into a comedy that manages to be both funny and poignant. Neither Donna nor Robespierre’s characters directly discuss abortion policy, save for Donna’s roommate Nellie, who rails against conservative men on the Supreme Court who oppose abortion rights. Instead, Donna makes a choice that makes sense for her situation her character finds herself in.

With Obvious Child, we get a funny, raw and honest overview about a woman coping with an unplanned pregnancy, considering everything good and bad that carrying a pregnancy through to term entails, and ultimately deciding she’s not ready to take care of a child. The biggest difference separating Obvious Child from the rest of the bawdy guy-centric summer rom-coms dealing with abortion is that we are no longer walking on eggshells around the issue: we’re not calling it a “shmashmortion” anymore; we now have conversation; mother and daughter talking, understanding one another. If Slate and Robespierre set out to create a comedy that generates laughs as well as serious discussion, they’ve succeeded.

Obvious Child is playing at the Landmark Guild 45th Theatre.


Dikla Tuchman
Where were all the women?
The anti-BDS rally was amazing. But why were men the only ones talking?
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted June 12, 2014

The evening of Wednesday, May 28 was a big night for the Seattle Jewish community. In the 10 years I have lived in Seattle, and the sum total of six years I’ve worked professionally in the community, I have never seen such an overwhelming turnout for any one event in the community. The Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement has inspired an astounding response from the community of which I have not seen before in my time here in the Emerald City. I was heartened to see so many organizations come together, “cross the aisle,” if you will, and unite over an issue that is critical and touches the deepest and most emotional parts of our Jewish lives. While Israel is the toughest subject an American Jew probably has to think about and respond to, it is also the one that has the power to move the most people to action.

I took in the speakers at Wednesday night’s “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign Against Israel: Bad for Jews in Seattle and Beyond?” event at Temple De Hirsch Sinai mostly from behind a camera lens. I watched as first, Rabbi Daniel Weiner, senior rabbi at TDHS, welcomed everyone to the program. I took note as Keith Dvorchik, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle walked on stage and introduced both guest speakers, Reverend Kenneth Flowers from Detroit and keynote speaker, best-selling, award-winning Israeli author, Ari Shavit. And then I snapped photos as publisher and editor of the JTNews, Joel Magalnick, took the stage to moderate a question and answer session.

The next morning, as I debriefed with several colleagues, two things occurred to me. First, there were some community organizations that specifically left their names off the list as supporters and were not there, which I found interesting. But this thought was fleeting as a more powerful, glaring and somewhat infuriating fact dawned on me: There was not a single woman on the stage that night.

As a women working in this Jewish community, I typically find myself so entrenched in the greater goal – the ultimate growth and success of the community – I sometimes forget about my feminism. I forget I am not only a Jew, an Israeli, and a passionate person committed to social justice, human rights, and creating safe spaces for Jewish young adults, but I am first and foremost a woman. Maybe I forget this because I always assume (typically, correctly) that Judaism has always been at the forefront of so much of the civil rights movements, helping to secure equal rights for minorities, and one of the first religious groups to invite women on the bima to lead services, integrate egalitarian language into prayer, and so forth. As a 32-year-old woman who has spent her whole life on the West Coast of the US, this is just part of my Jewish landscape. I don’t question whether or not my Judaism and the Judaism in my community sees and treats women as equals.

But on Wednesday night, my community let me down. While I don’t believe that this oversight was specifically out of any sort of misogynistic intent, I began to think of all of the incredible female leaders in our community. I wondered, “Were these women approached? Had the women of our community passed on the opportunity to stand on the stage that night?” If the first was true, acknowledgement of overlooking inclusion of a female presence should be addressed. If the latter is true, why is it that women would shy away from stepping up as leaders in this instance? Is this a symptom of women feeling fearful of taking a public stance on the issue or that they would somehow be perceived as having less authority on such a divisive and sometimes violent topic?

Whichever it was, no one talked about it that night. So, let’s talk about this, Seattle. Let’s discuss why this happened, not for the purpose of blaming or pointing fingers, but instead to open our eyes, make this a conversation and create some awareness around it. Because on that night, Ari Shavit asked a lot of us as American Jews. He put the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the older generations to influence and foster positive and proactive views on Israel. Well, how about we also ask the same of this same generation to show that we are thoughtful and acutely aware of the egalitarian strides we as Jewish Americans have taken as we have built what I believe he called the most impressive Jewish diaspora to ever exist?

Yes, I’m asking you all to add yet another item to your docket. But this awareness, being deliberate in our inclusion and showing that we are not a misogynistic community, but instead one that fosters and promotes empowerment for women, minorities and all those who find themselves suffering from discrimination outside of the Jewish community. Let’s continue to make this a safe space for all. A space where we don’t debrief the day after an incredibly important event for our community and ask, “Where were the women?”


An open letter
A Millennial responds to Ari Shavit's speech to the community.
By Shoshana Wineburg · Posted June 11, 2014

Dear Ari Shavit:
I was one of the under-30 audience members in your audience at Temple De Hirsch Sinai on May 28 — one of the “lost” youth who avoided the issue of Israel when I was in college because it was, as you said, “radioactive.” I am going to be straight with you Mr. Shavit — because on Wednesday night, you were anything but.
I read your book and was thoroughly impressed. I lived in Israel when I was a child. Then I returned for two years after college. Never had I encountered writing that so eloquently encapsulated Israel’s complexities. The fact that on Wednesday night you had Stand With Us members sitting side by side with members from The New Israel Fund is a testament your book’s nuance.
But Mr. Shavit, I was not impressed Wednesday night. I was disappointed.
In your speech, you told us that BDS is one of the biggest threats to Israel — in fact, maybe even more dangerous than Iran. You ominously warned us that in this epic battle, we are losing the fight for our future — we are losing our youth.
Last night didn’t help. I’ll tell you why:
You talked about how young people value universalism. But then, you fell right back into the Manichean binaries we find so repelling. Immediately, it was back to “us” vs. “them,” “light” vs. “darkness.” The “vile” BDS movement rages on campuses, you declared, and Jewish youth are falling victim to the dark side and “joining our enemies.” For someone who wrote a book that that so delicately straddled both/and, how could you descend so easily into either/or?
Mr. Shavit: Jewish youth have not forgotten history. We know that that our present must engage with our past. But we also know that we cannot use the events of the past to negate the truths of the present.
If you want to resonate with disengaged Millennials, you must be straightforward about Israel’s inequalities. When Birthright takes youth to Bedouin tents, the youth also need to know that Bedouins live in unrecognized villages without electricity or running water — while Jewish lone farmers run boutique restaurants and sell goat cheese. When they visit the friendly Druze who serve in the Israeli army, they also need to know that the government refuses to grant the Druze permits to expand their cities. When they say Jews were once refugees and point to all the refugees in South Tel Aviv, they also need to know that refugees sleep in sleeping bags in public parks because the government won’t give them work visas.
Pointing to Arabs in the Knesset does not erase the fact that in Israel, public services are separate, and not equal. Giving speeches about how Jews are victims, not colonizers, doesn’t erase the fact that we continue to take land and resources in the West Bank that are not ours to take. Most important, showing Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs walking side by side does not erase places like Hebron. Walking through that city, I saw “Death to Arabs” graffitied all over the walls. In that city, yes, the streets are divided, just like an apartheid state: One sidewalk is for the Jews, the other is for the Arabs. Until we start addressing the both/ands explicitly, Jewish youth won’t just feel confused — they’ll feel betrayed. And BDS will rage on.
Let’s talk about the new narrative you referenced on Wednesday, Mr. Shavit. Remember, the one you said that we need but conveniently dodged articulating. That new narrative must recognize that the Palestinian narrative of Nakba is not mutually exclusive with Israel’s legitimacy as a state.
Yes, for 2,000 years we were persecuted and displaced. From the ashes of the Holocaust, we finally got a strip of land that we could call our own. In so doing — as you describe in your chapters about Lydda or Ein Harod — we displaced another people.
Therein lies the commonality. Therein lies the universalism. We were a people who desperately needed a home. So too do the Palestinians. We cannot equivocate — we must embrace both narratives, both truths. We must remember Jewish suffering, but we cannot turn our backs on Palestinian suffering. We must admit that Israel’s democracy is pockmarked with holes, and we must fight relentlessly to close them, instead of convincing the world they don’t exist. Finding new rhetoric to persuade students on college campuses that we are “Davids, not Goliaths” is not going to defeat BDS, and it’s not going to persuade Jewish youth. Does this sound familiar, Mr. Shavit? It should. It’s in your book.
Want to know what Millennials want? Transparency. You wrote a nuanced book and then you turned your back on it. You pandered. And that’s exactly what turns us off.
Sincerely,
Shoshana Wineburg
A disappointed Millennial


Emily K. Alhadeff
Avivah Zornberg brings new interpretations to Torah, Seattle
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg visited Seattle's Orthodox community to talk about her many years of experience studying Torah.
By By Emily K. Alhadeff, Associate Editor, The Jewish Sound · Posted May 28, 2014

“The priest desires. The philosopher desires. And not to have is the beginning of desire.”

So wrote Wallace Stevens, the American poet whose words inspired the title of Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s first book, “The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis.”

“It’s a very Jewish idea, the idea of lack,” Zornberg told The Jewish Sound as the sun descended on a Friday afternoon just before Shabbat.

Zornberg, raised in Glasgow, Scotland, the daughter of Viennese refugees, obtained her doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University and taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before focusing her intellectual energy on the Torah. Her lessons invoking literature and psychoanalysis grew in popularity among English-speaking immigrants in Jerusalem. Zornberg, a youthful 70, has become a leading Biblical commentator whose work spans the disciplines.

Zornberg spent Shabbat in Seward Park the weekend of May 16 as scholar in residence at Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath and Sephardic Bikur Holim.

“This is a speaker who could draw together a community that was fractured,” said Gigi Yellen-Kohn, referring to the political strife between the Ashkenazi Orthodox congregation and its breakaway minyan, Ohr Chadash. “There was a diverse crowd. It did achieve the goal of having people together.”

Yellen-Kohn, a BCMH board member who did most of the organizing, suggested bringing Zornberg in from Jerusalem. Zornberg’s approach to Torah study is hard to describe — it’s an experience to be felt more than a lesson to take away.

“It’s a performative thing,” Zornberg said. “It’s not something that can be summed up in a sentence. There’s no little pellet that can come out and say ‘be your best self.’”

Zornberg was heavily influenced by the Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin of Volozhin, who emphasized chiddush, the concept of looking at a text and coming up with a wholly new interpretation.

Zornberg’s growing interest in psychoanalysis began to affect her study.

“It was a refreshing way to get away from routine thoughts,” she said. “I think one of the problems of Judaism is boredom. People live very much with received ideas.”

In approaching the Book of Ruth, Zornberg was interested in her “becoming” a new person, transformed by her adoption by the Israelite people.

Ruth, who is defined throughout her eponymous book as Ruth the Moabite, “is not what she is internally. How does she become what she isn’t yet? What does it mean to become who one may be?”

Curiously, Zornberg points out, is how Ruth the outsider becomes about as central a figure for the Jewish people as one can get, as the grandmother of the future King David.

“There are midrashic sources where David recognizes her as his essential source,” she said. “This woman from the outside becomes the source…Someone from the outside gets right into the heart.”

Zornberg’s Shabbat afternoon talk connected a range of traditional sources and literary and psychoanalytic tropes to work through difficult texts in new ways. For instance, what’s going on when the spies come back from the land of Canaan with a negative report in Numbers? Why were spies necessary if God’s whole plan was to bring the Israelites there? Why did they lie? Or did they lie?

“For me, thinking about God and thinking about wholeness and oneness and the great religious absolutes, it’s been refreshing to find how much our tradition emphasizes the opposite,” that is, brokenness, Zornberg told JTNews. “Paradoxically, it’s the key to everything.”

The Ten Commandments are a perfect metaphor.

“Once they’re broken you can and you must [repair them],” she explained. “You have to make the text. You have to interpret. If you’re not interpreting, you’re not ‘oseh’ [making].”

For the past year, BCMH has been hosting guest speakers and scholars in residence while it figures out how to move forward with a rabbi search. Daniel Birk, board president of BCMH, said such events emphasize the shul’s goal of diversity.

“I call it an experience over a lecture,” he said. “You saw people really drawn to her.”

For Yellen-Kohn, and for others, it was important to bring in a female Orthodox scholar.

“In an environment that’s usually associated with a dour, male-heavy Orthodoxy, to have her literacy, and her ease of communication, and her depth of knowledge right there in the middle was a demonstration of a kind of respect for learning that transcends any of the issues that so often get discussed,” said Yellen-Kohn of Zornberg’s Q and A, held on Shabbat afternoon at a meal generally frequented by more men than women.

“I think women’s learning is a very important thing,” Zornberg said. “If a woman feels that in her, there really are opportunities to follow it up and enlarge oneself.”


Courtesy Creative Commons, by Amanda Rhoades
The Macklemore Debacle
Some are crying overreaction, some underreaction. Here's Dikla's take on Macklemore's "Jew face."
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted May 20, 2014

We’ve all read about it by now. Our RSS feeds have been filled with articles from local blogs like The Stranger, national commentary on Buzzfeed, The Huff, and so forth. Few of us were actually there and actually saw it happen. One local Jewish writer was there and wrote a remarkable response on his own personal response as the situation unfolded before him. He mentioned in the piece that he had never been confronted with the question, “Is this an act of anti-Semitism?” and then the emotions that accompany. As he pointed out, in a city that prides itself on progressivism, political correctness, and openness, an artist that is well-known for his honesty and do-gooder reputation making such a mistake brings up a lot of questions and feelings from both the Jewish and non-Jewish community.

Personally? I appreciated that Macklemore, after the off-the-cuff, fairly callous response on Twitter, posted a more in-depth response both explaining the situation and apologizing for hurting peoples’ feelings. But I also think this opens us up to really looking at a bigger issue. We are accustomed to these Internet apologies by now. Some big name or valued alternative-indie company becomes entangled in an act of social injustice (we can use Kickstarter’s situation from last year as an example) and they are obligated to defend themselves, explain away the mistake (which generally, these are thoughtless mistakes), and the community forgives them and moves on.

But where is the line? Where do we say, “No, I’m sorry. You are someone that impressionable young people look up to and expect to set an example for, and when you do something thoughtless like this, it has serious repercussions.” And then how far does that person or group then need to go to show that they are truly sorry and acknowledge their mistake and the gravity of the results? Does Macklmore need more than to just give a quick “P.S” shout-out to the ADL? Or should he make some sort of larger gesture to the community that he understands that what he did was seen as by in large racist. What if kids saw that costume, thought it was cool and funny, and all showed up to school wearing it? What if that becomes acceptable? What if he decides to wear another funny costume, this time representing some other race or creed that has suffered injustices?

Yes, it was an accident. Yes, we are all glad he has apologized. But, in my opinion, his apology was somewhat dismissive and didn’t really address those people who have had to hide their Jewishness on college campuses, at their jobs, in social situations, over many, many years. Sure, things are better in the US than they are other places, and sure we’ve come a long way from the 1940s. But, racism is something that still has a very long way to go. And thoughtlessness often leads to thoughtful acts of racism. We certainly don’t expect it to sort of hit us in the face like it did this week. For Jews like Adam Sekuler, this is the first time. And it will probably not be the last. But, let’s call it what it was: An accidental anti-semitic act.

No, Macklemore is not a horrible person who meant any intentional harm. But the same can be said of plenty of racist acts in this country and others. And so when someone who says he “respect(s) all cultures and all people,” somewhere in that apology should have been a statement about being more thoughtful in the future. Encouraging others to also be thoughtful and more intentional. Especially when you’re going on stage in front of a whole lot of people who are heavily influenced by who you are and what you represent. It’s a lot of pressure, I know. But with great power comes great responsibility. Thanks for your apology, Macklemore. But I think it’s gonna take us some time and some more discussion before we’re really ready to accept it.


The Weekend Guide
Our picks for all things Jew-ish this weekend.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted May 16, 2014

Friday

Home Hospitality Shabbat
7 p.m. - Looking for an alternative Shabbat celebration with young adults and like-minded individuals? Join Selah Seattle Minyan this Friday evening for a home hospitality Shabbat starting in Ravenna. For more information, check out the Facebook invite and RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you want to host!

Saturday

Hike to Poo Poo Point
9:30 a.m. - Rain or shine, join Jconnect in a beautiful Saturday morning hike to Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain. If you’re interested in joining the hike, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Sunday

Lag B’Omer BBQ at Gasworks Park
12 p.m. - Need a good excuse to go to the park and eat hot dogs on a Sunday afternoon? Join Jconnect for their annual Lag B’Omer BBQ at Gasworks! They’ll be grilling up some delicious hamburgers and hot dogs, and playing games at the park. RSVP on Facebook.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 7:49 p.m.
This week’s parsha is Bechukotai.
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Reut Cohen speaks before a panel of UW law students. Photo: Dikla Tuchman
Another voice for Israel in Seattle
For a lot of people in Seattle, it's time to expand the conversation on Israel. That's what the NIF is here to do.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted May 13, 2014

Reut Cohen knows what it feels like to be a minority.
The Mizrachi Israeli grew up in Kiryat Haim, a suburb of Haifa, in a family that struggled economically. In high school, she came out of the closet.
“The Israeli society is very gender biased,” said Cohen, 29. “All the class issues, all the gender issues — I understood what it’s like to be part of some sort of minority. I made the connection between those different oppressions.”
Cohen is a 2013 New Israel Fund Herman Schwartz Israel Human Rights Law Fellow, and an LL.M candidate at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. She visited Seattle last week with the New Israel Fund.
The New Israel Fund works to build democracy and fight inequality and injustice in Israel with grant making, advocacy, coalitions, fellowships, and empowerment. Each year it grants fellowships to a Jewish Israeli and a Palestinian Israeli attorney. The fellows spend one year in the U.S. obtaining a master’s in civil rights law (LL.M). Upon return to Israel, they spend a year interning in social change organizations.
Cohen’s visit is part of NIF’s growing presence in Seattle. The organization, headquartered in New York, has offices around the country and the world. A Seattle branch opened in October, with Ben Murane serving as director of outreach.
“Opening an office here and bringing in people like Reut is part of introducing a new voice into Seattle about Israel, particularly about social justice,” Murane told JTNews. “Our message in particular is resonating with people for whom the standard ways of connecting to Israel [are] not enough anymore.”
Cohen went to the University of Haifa to study labor law, but moved into civil rights. She helped found a Jewish-Arab group that challenged student union policies perceived as racist and has been a leader in the LGBT movement in Haifa. She also started a blog with two friends critiquing Israeli pop culture from a feminist perspective.
“We wanted to expose the nuance,” she said. “If you saw a commercial, why was it disrespectful to women?”
The gendered language of Hebrew, and the value Israeli culture places on the military, makes it difficult for women to rise in the ranks, Cohen said. Commercials about business or cars, for instance, frequently invoke male pronouns, while others about cleaning and childcare use the female form.
Cohen’s Mizrachi identity (she is Syrian, Egyptian, and Turkish) also informs her politics.
“You have complete overlap between class and ethnicity in Israel,” she said. “You will hardly find women, Palestinians, and Mizrachi Jews” in leadership positions.
“The only field Mizrachi Jews are successful in Israel is the music industry,” she continued. “Being a successful musician does not mean you’re in a position of power.”
The NIF fellowship is an important step for Israeli attorneys aspiring to strong civil rights careers. Two of Cohen’s future goals are to build the LGBT infrastructure in Haifa, and to work against gender-biased opinions that inhibit women’s advancement. 
“[I can’t say] I will only fight for my liberation,” she said. “I really wanted to work in a field that can change the reality in Israel.”
Noam Pianko, the Samuel N. Stroum Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, has been involved with NIF in Seattle for years, and is excited to have a resource on the ground to galvanize support.
“The more resources that are available for having public conversation and guest speakers and educational resources about Israel, the more likely it is that we can include Israel in our conversations about what it means to be Jewish in Seattle,” he said. “It will enable more Jews to be passionate about helping Israel to reach its own goals.”
To start, the organization is holding a series of discussions on the nature of the Jewish State, at Congregation Beth Shalom.
“Israel used to be the one issue we could all agree on,” said Murane. “Soviet Jewry and Israel. Now Israel’s the only issue we can’t agree on.”
Despite recurring accusations that NIF’s involvement with humanitarian organizations links them to organizations that support the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, NIF’s spokeswoman, Naomi Paiss, iterated that “Everyone knows we do not support the global BDS movement.”
“What’s missing in the Seattle Jewish community is discussion, dialogue,” said Murane. New Israel Fund shows the progressive people frustrated with Israeli policy that “The beating democratic heart of Israel is alive and strong.”


The Weekend Guide
The weekend of May 9-11: Don't forget - Mother's Day is Sunday!
By Jew-ish staff · Posted May 09, 2014

Friday

Mom’s Home Cooking Shabbat
7 p.m. - Get ready for Mother’s Day with some of momma’s favorites! Join Jconnect for drinks, learning and shabbat dinner, which will feature dishes based on recipes submitted by your fellow Joconnectors of their mom’s best home cooked favorites. Go home full of nostalgia, and don’t forget to call your mother! Cocktail hour starts at 7, with learning and dinner to follow. RSVP requested.

Saturday

Israel Vines, Black Hat, Josef Gaard, Archivist
To be honest, we’re not even sure if any of these DJs are Jewish, but they’re at least Jew-ish with artist and band names like those. So if you’re in the mood to get your dance on in Belltown this Saturday night, we (along with the Stranger) highly recommend heading to Kremwerk at 1809 Minor Ave #10, Seattle.

Sunday

Teen Feed
Wind down and feel good with Jconnect’s monthly Teen Feed at Hillel. Cook a meal for local at-risk youth in need and give back to your community. Put a little tzedek into your weekend routine. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.

Coming up in just a few weeks: Folklife!
Mark your calendars—Folklife Festival is Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26, at the Seattle Center, and this year’s Klezmer line-up is looking pretty sweet. Check out the folklife schedule, and be sure to catch bands like Fleet Street Klezmer Band (Sunday at 3:40 p.m.), Nu Kelzmer Army (Saturday at 12:20 p.m.) and more!

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 8:15 p.m.
This week’s parsha is Behar.
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Divestment debate comes to the UW
Will the dawgs divest?
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted May 08, 2014

On April 15, as Jewish students were celebrating the first day of Passover, a resolution was introduced to the University of Washington student senate calling on the university to divest from corporations that do business with Israel.
Resolution 20-39 calls upon the UW to “examine its financial assets to identify its investments in companies that provide equipment or services used to directly maintain, support, or profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.”
This is one of the latest in a spate of resolutions from campuses around the country to divest from Caterpillar, Northrop Grumman, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions, G4S, Elbit Systems, and Veolia. Organized by SUPER UW, Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, R-20-39 calls for the UW “to instruct its investment managers to divest from those companies,” starting with Caterpillar as a first measure, and “to work with the Evergreen State College to implement the divestment resolution passed in 2010 as it pertains to the Evergreen State College Foundation holdings housed within the UW Consolidated Endowment Fund.”
In 2010, students at The Evergreen State College voted by 79 percent to divest from said corporations, but, according to SUPER UW, the measure cannot be acted upon until UW follows suit.
The resolution was presented by its sponsors on the senate floor May 6 — Israel’s Independence Day. After questions and answers, as protocol it was referred to the ASUW Academic and Administrative Affairs Committee for edits and further consideration. It will likely return to the floor for a vote in the coming weeks.
If it passes, what effect will R-20-39 have on the university?
“Very little,” said Rabbi Oren Hayon, Greenstein Family Executive Director of Hillel at the University of Washington. “The student senate does not control the decision-making about how the university invests its funds.”
However, a win would bring another victory to the global opposition movement that seeks to call Israel to task for what it sees as injustices against Palestinians.
According to ASUW president Michael Kutz, “It would signal to the University of Washington administration, Board of Regents, and community that students agree with the resolution as written and that students encourage the proposed actions.”
“The bigger worries are about what effect it will have on discourse about the Middle East on campus,” said Hayon, “and whether it will make UW a less attractive option for prospective Jewish students making decisions about where to go to college.”
The resolution is sponsored by Peter Brannan, a senior who runs on the Socialist slate, and co-sponsored by Black Student Union, MEChA, Third Wave Feminists, International Socialist Organization, D.A.S.A (Disability Advocacy Student Alliance), Disorientation UW, and Solidarity with UW Custodians.
In the days following the resolution’s introduction, a Facebook group, Huskies Against Divestment, formed and has collected nearly 1,000 votes of support as of press time. A petition on Change.org to protest the resolution in solidarity with the pro-Israel UW students has garnered over 600 signatures, and Rabbi Ron-Ami Meyers of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth sent the ASUW a letter with statistics on the conflict and a statement of cross-denominational Seattle solidarity with the pro-Israel students.
At the same time, the students have requested that the community at large not get involved. No students were willing to speak with JTNews. On Facebook, they state, “We believe the accusations in the resolution are misleading at best and false at worst. Instead of a one-sided resolution which privileges and promotes one side’s claims over the other, we should be working towards a solution that promotes the rights of both sides of the conflict.”
Leah Knopf, a Jewish graduate student studying social work, helped draft the resolution.
“We stand in solidarity with the Palestinians for BDS to pressure the Israeli government to comply with international law and human rights,” she said.
Knopf isn’t sure the resolution will pass, but even if it doesn’t, the conversations have been productive, she says.
“Whether it passes or not, I think it’s important people are talking about the struggle for equal rights,” she said. “It’s been an opportunity to have a conversation, which is really exciting.”
However, Hayon noted that the activity generated by R-20-39 and support for BDS on campus has made pro-Israel students uncomfortable.
“Many of them are uncomfortable because they recognize that BDS resolutions do nothing to promote peace, or to strengthen Palestinians’ and Israelis’ needs for security and self-determination,” he said. “Resolutions like these succeed only in dividing the student body and pushing the promise of a peaceful two-state solution farther outside the realm of possibility. For me, that’s the most disappointing and depressing aspect of these campaigns.”


The Weekend Guide
This weekend, get your spring on.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted May 02, 2014

Spring is here! After a couple of record highs to start off your May in Seattle, what are your plans to go out and play in the sun or stay in and catch some local arts and entertainment this weekend?

Here are our recommendations for the weekend of May 2 - 4:

Friday

Dos de Mayo Shabbat
6 p.m. - Cinco de Mayo may still be a few days away, but Hillel will be celebrating on the 2nd of May at Shabbat with a Mexican-inspired menu for dinner. Student-led services start at 6 p.m. followed by a free dinner for undergrads at 7 p.m. in the Hillel dining room. Viva la Shabbat!

Saturday

Free Comic Book Day
All day, throughout the greater Seattle area
Hit up your favorite comic shop(s) around town and support your local Jewish comic artists. For a full listing of comic shops, check the Free Comic Book Day website!

Sunday

Yom HaZikaron Memorial
7 p.m. - As part of the commemoration of Israeli Memorial Day, join Hillel for a ceremony open to students, Jconnectors and community members. Participants will be sharing the stories of Israeli soldiers who gave their lives defending their country. There will also be instrumental performances by UW students playing the traditional songs for the occasion and we will blast the siren that goes off in the streets of Israel in recognition of the people who dedicated their lives for the Jewish homeland. As part of the tradition of the Yom HaZikaron service, please wear a white shirt. Memorial will take place at Hillel UW.


Coming up this week, don’t miss a big event with Hillel for Yom Ha’Atzmaut…

Monday, May 5 at 9 p.m., Yom Ha’Atzmaut Party
Party like its 1948!! Join us as we celebrate Israels 66th Anniversary with one of the biggest parties to hit Seattle. DJ Elad is back, and he’ll be playing awesome Israeli music. The bar will also have some amazing themed drinks, so this is a party you won’t want to miss! 21+

הצטרפו אלינו לחגיגות יום העצמאות ה66 של מדינת ישראל באחת המסיבות הגדולות שהגיעו לסיאטל לאחרונה

DJ ELAD, על העמדה עם מוזיקה ישראלית

$5 cover, but free for the first 50 to RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). At Corbu Lounge, 115 Blanchard St., Seattle.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 8:05 p.m.
This week’s parsha is Emor
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Dikla Tuchman
The truck fueled by cheese
Ex-Microsoft employee rolls out another successful food truck onto the Seattle culinary scene: This time, grilled cheese unlike you've ever tasted.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted May 02, 2014

At about this time last year, Greg Wagner was your average sales guy at Microsoft. But like many long-time tech industry folk here in the Pacific Northwest, Wagner was ready to embark on his next big adventure: Crafting outlandish grilled cheese sandwiches from a food truck.

Wagner watched the mobile food boom hit its height in Seattle and grabbed what he saw as the perfect opportunity to switch his sales role from corporate America to one-on-one interactions with hungry grilled-cheese lovers.

Greg Wagner holds one of his creations during lunch at his new food truck, The Ultimate Melt.
Greg Wagner holds one of his creations during lunch at his new food truck, The Ultimate Melt. Photos by Dikla Tuchman.
“I’ve for years and years thought about owning a restaurant or a bar because of the food idea, but also the social aspects of it,” Wagner said. “But it was always at the back of my mind. And then a couple years ago I saw the trucks coming and that just never left the front of my mind.”

Just as others who have recently opened up their own cuisine on wheels, Wagner knew owning and operating a food truck was, relatively speaking, an easy entry point into the industry. With a low investment, starting The Ultimate Melt seemed like a foolproof plan. That said, it took Wagner some coaxing to convince his wife that opening a food truck wasn’t a completely harebrained idea. She eventually came around and in February of 2013, he began his preliminary planning.

“I left Microsoft at the end of March, started this business the very beginning of April and through the 11 months, got everything up and running,” Wagner said. “We started with the truck buildout, which included a totally custom-made logo.”

That logo is nearly impossible to miss, as the truck resembles a giant, brightly colored grilled cheese sandwich.

Once the truck was ready, the next logical step was to hire a chef and begin the arduous task of recipe testing.

“I worked with a couple of buddies of mine that were chefs in the industry,” Wagner said.

Given that he had no industry background or a fully formed idea of a menu, “they could tell me what type of equipment I needed, and we worked through layouts,” he said.

As one might imagine, the small workspace available in the confines of a truck make configuring the cooking space a challenge.

As Wagner got down to the final details of unleashing The Ultimate Melt onto the Seattle food truck scene, he talked with some other local food truck owners to pick their brains.

“It’s a wonderful community,” Wagner said. “We’re in a commissary because every truck has to be attached to their commissary kitchen. There’s another truck in our commissary that we’re really good friends with and a couple of trucks next door to us.” During the 11-month period Wagner was getting his business together, he says he did more networking than he ever did at Microsoft. Wagner definitely has enjoyed the strong sense of community and camaraderie felt within the food truck community.

In this first month of business, Wagner found the most challenging component of the business could easily be considered one of those “good problems to have”: His initial business plan envisioned only two employees on the truck, him and a cook. He quickly realized he didn’t have enough bodies for the amount of work.

“Once I knew there was enough demand, I thought I would hire a third person,” Wagner said. “I discovered that on day three.”

As food trucks are also synonymous with “fast food,” it was essential for Wagner to have enough time to personally connect with his customers but also get them their food speedily.

As for the menu, Ultimate Melt boasts some of the most creative grilled cheese concoctions you’ve ever seen. Choices range from a sandwich stuffed with mozzarella sticks and cheese crunches to a double-crème brie, homemade fig aioli, thick-sliced bacon, and Granny Smith apple sandwich. Wagner calls that one the “We Brie Jammin’,” an homage to Bob Marley that has become the truck’s most popular melt, receiving rave reviews on Yelp! and other food review sites. This is also one of the few carnivorous sandwiches that can easily be made veggie by leaving off the bacon.

Wagner’s current The Ultimate Melt plans are to continue having a presence at upcoming community events and expanding his catering business. He parks primarily on the Eastside, but for a regular schedule of where you can find Wagner and his mouth-watering lunchtime delicacies visit theultimatemelt.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


RabbiSimcha.com
The Gospel according to Krusty
How have primetime sitcoms been influenced by religion?
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted April 28, 2014

Mark Pinsky will speak on Sun., May 4 at 4 p.m. at the Stroum JCC, 3801 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island. SJCC members, seniors and students $8/non-members $12. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.sjcc.org/cultural-arts/jewish-touch-series.

Cartoonists like Matt Groening have made it big through cartoons like “The Simpsons.” Mark I. Pinsky has found fame not be creating a cartoon, but by writing about them. Pinsky is an investigative journalist who has spent a large chunk of his writing career delving deeply into the connection between religion and animated entertainment. More specifically, Pinsky has been made famous for his publication of two books: One that focuses on religious depiction in the television series, “The Simpsons.” The other is an analysis of religious themes in Disney animated movies.
Coming to Seattle for the first time since he was youngster in United Synagogue Youth back in the ’60s, Pinsky will discuss his book “The Gospel According to The Simpsons” at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Sunday, May 4. As part of the SJCC’s Jewish Touch series, Pinsky will talk primarily about how Jews and Judaism are represented in one part of popular culture: Television sitcoms.
Back in 2001, Pinsky released the first edition of “The Gospel According to The Simpsons,” which was so popular that he rereleased the book in 2006 with additional analysis based on new animated series that had modeled their episodic layout after the Simpsons.
“Primetime sitcoms in American television history stayed away from religion in its earlier years,” says Pinsky. “Advertisers were afraid if you put religion in it would alienate and marginalize viewers; there was no real upside for the ratings. They also felt that if they put religion in the shows [religion] would be watered down and would not appeal to religious viewers.”
When “The Simpsons” first aired in December 1989, Pinsky’s children, then 8 and 11, expressed interest in watching the “adult” cartoon that had a prime time slot on FOX. Skeptical, he allowed them to watch with him and told them he would turn off the TV if he deemed anything inappropriate. Instead, the level of sophistication in the writing surprised him, and he noticed something unique and groundbreaking: The writers incorporated religion in an intelligent, socially comical way that he had never before seen done.
“The writers began incorporating religion into the show more and more,” says Pinsky. “It simply is an element, not focused on religion all the time. But there are a couple of episodes that focus specifically on religion.”
The writers would introduce non-majority faiths into the show and then incorporate them into the series’ fabric.
“It’s a part of their cosmos,” he says.
In the case of “The Simpsons,” Pinsky explored the introduction of the character of Krusty the Clown, his religious struggle and affiliation with Judaism that was the focus of one episode, and from there became a part of the show’s landscape.
The second Jewish episode, which Pinsky describes as not only intelligent, but also revolutionary, was show’s annual Halloween episode, which one year dedicated a segment to the lore of the golem.
“The episode was really well written and clever,” Pinsky says. “It really knocked my socks off that they were able to do this. They really kicked in the door for making it okay to talk about religion in a funny way in an animated television show. “
Pinsky revisits some of his previous assertions in his 2006 re-release, this time focusing on newer animated sitcoms such as “Family Guy,” “King of the Hill,” “American Dad,” and “South Park.”
“By the time you get to ‘South Park,’ you’re getting into some more heavy considerations of what Judaism in America is about,” Pinsky says. “The episode ‘South Park’ did about Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was very critical and really analyzed the issues involved in a sophisticated way.”
At Pinsky’s May 4 presentation, he plans to discuss some of the ways in which both “The Simpsons” paved the way for positively weaving religion into mainstream television and how other shows have sometimes missed the mark. He will also discuss some of the observations he makes in his second book, “The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust.” In this book, Pinsky explores many popular Disney films, as well as some of the more political aspects of the conglomerate, such as the 1990s boycott of Disney by the Southern Baptist Convention and the role that figureheads like Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg played in the resurgence of the company since the mid-1980s.


IFC Films
Two to Tango
"Dancing in Jaffa" pairs Israeli and Arab kids in hopes they might just foxtrot to reconciliation.
By Michael Fox · Posted April 25, 2014

“Dancing in Jaffa” opens April 25 at the Varsity Theater, 4329 University Way NE, Seattle. Visit http://www.landmarktheatres.com for showtimes. In Hebrew, Arabic and English with English subtitles.

Going back at least as far as 2001’s “Promises,” most recent documentaries that opted for an optimistic slant on the Israeli-Palestinian situation centered on children.
The next generation, to be sure, is the universal embodiment of hope. But betting on today’s children to solve a problem down the road is tacit acknowledgement that today’s adults aren’t up to the task — or so those who see the Mideast glass half-empty might say.
Both perspectives are skillfully interwoven in “Dancing in Jaffa,” a nuanced, feel-good study of cross-cultural fence-hopping in which the best traits in human nature vie with street-level realities.
“Dancing in Jaffa,” opens April 25 at the Varsity Theater in Seattle.
The movie’s motor is world champion ballroom dancer and teacher Pierre Dulaine, who returns to his hometown after many years with the self-proclaimed goal of giving something back. Perennially dressed in a starched shirt and tie, and fluent in Arabic, English and French, the gray-haired Dulaine is a cosmopolitan alien in a working-class town.
The indefatigable Dulaine is a lifelong proponent of partnered dancing as a way to develop social skills and self-confidence, but in Jaffa he’s determined to apply his pedagogy to an even greater good. His plan is to teach merengue, rhumba and tango to 11-year-olds at various schools, culminating with young Jewish and Palestinian Israelis dancing together in a public ballroom dance competition.
“This is how you learn to work with another person,” Dulaine offhandedly remarks to one child while correcting his form. It’s a lovely sentiment, one that will gradually sink in after the student has become comfortable with the steps and can actually look at and interact with his or her partner.
There’s an unpredictability and bumpiness to Dulaine’s mission, at least initially, that negates the comforting formula that some viewers will expect. Most of the kids are shy, embarrassed and downright resistant to engaging with the opposite sex, even without the Islamic prohibition on touching someone of the opposite sex. (None of the Jewish kids are Orthodox.)
While boys will be boys, and girls will be girls, Dulaine perseveres with firmness as well as affection. Progress in the classroom can be hard to discern, however, so the film provides glimpses of the home lives of three children to suggest their individual blossoming.
Hilla Medalia, the prolific Israeli-born producer and/or director of such documentaries as “To Die in Jerusalem” and “Numbered,” again displays her talent for gaining access, winning trust and crafting small, revealing moments.
The most memorable are political rather than interpersonal, and occur on the street rather than in someone’s home. The arrival in town of an intentionally intimidating group of right-wing Israelis chanting some variation of “Jaffa for the Jews” provides buzz-killing evidence that conciliation is not everyone’s goal.
An illuminating sequence contrasting the observance of Independence Day at a Jewish school with its description as the Nakba — “catastrophe” — at a Palestinian Israeli school likewise underscores Medalia’s preference for presenting reality rather than peddling fantasy.
In this regard, she and Dulaine are perfectly in step. He was four years old when he left Jaffa with his Palestinian mother and Irish father during the War of Independence, and he’s chagrined but not surprised when his request to re-enter his family’s old home is summarily rejected by the Jewish owners.
Consistent with the theme that the future is more important than the past, Dulaine’s presence in the film steadily diminishes. We, and he, are left with the satisfaction that individual children have grown and glimpsed possibilities they couldn’t have imagined.
A small victory, perhaps, compared to a lasting resolution to the ongoing conflict? Even a pessimist wouldn’t have the chutzpah to call a child’s transformation a “small victory.”


re_birf
The Weekend Guide
Holocaust remembrance, film, music, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted April 24, 2014

Friday

Lasagna Shabbat
6 p.m. — Go carb crazy! Join us for a delicious lasagna dinner as we welcome some students involved with youth groups in the area. Student-led services start at 6 p.m., followed by a free dinner at 7. All are welcome, so bring your roommates, neighbors and friends!
At Hillel, 4745 17th Ave. NE.

Tribe Fourth Shabbat
7 p.m. — Join the Tribe for Shabbat services and dinner. Rabbi Aaron Meyer and Asher Hashash will lead a musical service at 7 followed by dinner and conversation. Together we will discuss Fourth Shabbat 2.0 now that Piecora’s is no more. Guest chefs? Food trucks? We need your creativity and advice.
At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1511 E Pike St.

Dancing in Jaffa

Pierre Dulaine, four-time ballroom dancing world champion and dedicated teacher, returns to the city of his birth, Jaffa, after decades abroad. He wants to give something back to his homeland and has an impossible dream: to teach Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children to dance together. Enlisting the support of teachers and parents, Pierre persuades 150 reluctant eleven-year-olds from several schools to give his program a try. At first the dance “partners” don’t want to touch—or even look at—each other, but Pierre persists, determined to impart the hidden ballroom skills of decorum, etiquette and, ultimately, respect and trust. Soon the children are two-stepping and tangoing, looking forward to the climactic team dance contest. What occurs is magical and transformative, making Pierre’s dream seem almost possible. - Landmark Theatres
After the 7:30 show Dulaine will be in attendance to answer questions!
At the Varsity Theatre, 4329 University Way NE

Saturday

Shlohmo
8 p.m. — OK, we don’t know for sure if Henry Laufer, aka Shlohmo, is Jewish, but let’s say…yeah, he is. And his electro-pop-fun kind of rocks my world. If he’s not Jewish, who cares? Check out the show.
At Neumos, 925 E Pike St. 18+

Sunday

Book Reading about Parenting and Jewish Life
10:00 — Ed Harris, author of Now They Tell Me: 50 Life Lessons I didn’t Learn in School and Let’s Pretend We’re Christians and Play in the Snow: The Adventures of a Jewish Dad as well as other tongue-in-cheek books about Jewish parenting, will offer some tidbits from his recent books.
At Beth Shalom, 6800 35th Ave. NE.

Family and Memory: Ties Separations Rebuilding and Remembering
10:30 a.m. — Memorial service at the Holocaust Memorial, Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island. Candle lighting and memorial service with Rabbi Jim Mirel and Rivy Poupko Kletenik. Special performance by students from the Seattle Hebrew Academy.
2:30-4:30 p.m. — “The Family: Ties, Separations, Rebuilding, and Remembering.” With Author David Laskin, Survivor Josh Gortler, and Professor Daniel Chirot. Kane Hall, University of Washington. Kaddish (Mourner’s Prayer) led by Rabbi Zari Weiss, Kol HaNeshamah.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 7:54
This week’s parsha is Kedoshim
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Flickr/Wonderlane
Passover in the wilderness
Sometimes Passover prep can be its own form of slavery.
By Joelle Abramowitz · Posted April 11, 2014

Passover has come to be one of my all-time favorite holidays. Growing up, the holiday was mostly about cleaning, getting out the Passover dishes, and having to eat God-awful kosher-for-Passover ketchup, amongst other Passover-specific delicacies, for lack of a better word.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see it a lot more personally: about my own Egypt, my own Exodus, and my own promised land. Bringing this through in my food, I’ve tried to focus on the spirit of the dietary laws of the holiday, abstaining from the ultra-processed kosher for Passover foods that hardly resemble food at all and trying to keep it tasty delicious and homemade.

Over the course of the years I lived in Seattle, I made it my tradition to host a second night seder. This was fulfilling both in thinking about the holiday and what it meant to me that year as well as providing a fun challenge to see what culinary creations I could come up with given the holiday’s dietary guidelines. I came to take this task very seriously, going all out trying to make everything as accommodating and authentic as possible to make all my seder guests feel welcome and cared for. This included such dishes as brisket for the meat eaters, vegetarian matza ball soup from scratch and quinoa for the vegetarians, and even gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free desserts for those with that persuasion. And of course, homemade marror, which I was especially proud of making myself.

This all sounds very lovely. But the reality was that most years, in the course of getting everything to the table, at least once I ended up in tears having a meltdown on my couch. To accomplish everything I set out to – to try to meet everyone else’s wants as well as my own – was an incredible amount of work. And while in most years I had taken on the task with a co-pilot, I usually found that I was left to fly the plane alone. It felt awful, like being in a narrow place of hard work, feeling unappreciated, unsupported, and disappointed. From this low place, I envisioned that one day I would reach a seder-hosting promised land where, with a reliable co-pilot by my side, everything would go smoothly and turn out wonderful. 

To get myself out of that narrow place, this year I am doing things differently. There will be no co-pilot. And while the dishes will still be tasty and permit everyone to eat a balanced meal, I won’t be creating any elaborate concoctions with multiple options to satisfy everyone’s individual tastes and preferences. 

What I’ve realized is that while I might be able to get myself out of the narrow place where I’ve been, the place where I find myself is more like wilderness than promised land: someplace in-between, someplace simpler, but also someplace more alone. And with that realization comes the awareness that I might never reach the Promised Land I’ve dreamed of. 

But I’m not the only one that’s ever had this realization. When the Israelites that left Egypt confronted their wilderness, the outcome was not exactly exemplary: complaining about their current surroundings and longing for Egypt, being afraid that their redemption was in vain and of confronting the unknown, and ultimately turning their backs on God by creating a golden calf. With how I feel confronting my own wilderness, I can’t say I don’t understand how all of that could have gone down. 

Nonetheless, despite the hardships, there is much to be thankful for in the wilderness. To aid in our realizing this, during the seder we sing Dayenu — recounting the things God did for the Israelites and rejoining after each with a hearty, “It would have been enough for us.” For some time, I found this perplexing — looking backward, any one of the things God did for the Israelites would certainly not have been enough for the Israelites to get them where they ended up. But I’ve learned that it’s better to look forward: to live is as if every opportunity is indeed enough even if it’s not what I hoped for. That each experience will get me where I’m going, perhaps via a different route with different scenery and a different destination than I expected.

For now, I’ve resolved myself to the reality that the wilderness might just be the best I can get, and accordingly, I will try to embrace it. For my seder, that means a less elaborate meal and a downgrade to bottled horseradish, but hopefully also more enjoying the moment and less crying on the couch. Next year in Jerusalem? Maybe. But this year, I’m making my home in the wilderness.


Joel Magalnick
Your seder in an hour: Two haggadot go head to head
By Joel Magalnick · Posted April 10, 2014

When “The Sixty Minute Seder” came across my desk a few weeks back, I didn’t give it much thought. When, not much later, a bigger, prettier “The 60 Minute Seder” landed in roughly the same spot, I thought maybe the publishers had, curiously, printed a larger version. Once I actually gave them a look, I realized these Haggadot are very, very different creatures. Given that two different sets of authors came up with the idea of formalizing a seder in under an hour, how could I not put them head to head?
So here we go: The showdown. Let’s start off with two competing, very different thoughts. First, the idea that someone would actually create a book that basically skips over the discussion, the learning, the richness of the story of the Exodus offends my sensibilities. Who do these people think they are that they can pick and choose for us what gets included in our meal and what doesn’t? Isn’t that our grumpy father’s job? But let’s be honest. From my childhood, at every seder I’ve ever attended, I have thumbed through the Haggadah to find exactly which page the meal is served, then counted the minutes until we got there.
Admittedly, some seder leaders do a great job of keeping us engaged, exercising our minds, asking us to consider the story in different ways from what we read on the page. And plenty of you love to talk and sing until all hours of the night.
Sound familiar? Then these books are not for you.
So what do they offer aside from the knowledge that whoever actually goes out and purchases one (or many) of these guides that they’ve satisfied whatever obligation needs to be satisfied before digging into the gefilte fish? Not a lot.
“The Sixty Minute Seder,” by Cass (Yichezkale) and Nellie (Nechama) Foster (Six Points Press, $13.95), much like most Haggadot, reads from right to left. The book itself runs about 60 pages, half of them devoted to the bare minimum of the 15 items that make the seder complete. There’s a little Hebrew, but most everything’s in transliteration for the non-Hebrew readers. That may make some of you uncomfortable, but if you’re welcoming in the stranger, what’s more welcoming than Hebrew in English? Score one for the Fosters. The other half consists of recipes, songs, a glossary, and a book-order form.
The Fosters do offer a page of discussion about the seder — at the back of the book. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Artwork consists of clip art and a handful of photos. The dimensions, similar to the old Maxwell House standby, make it easy to hide this under your plate during mealtime.
“The 60 Minute Seder,” by Robert Kopman and Bill Yanok (self-published, $10.95), which, mystifyingly, has been trademarked, is one of the first I’ve come across that reads from left to right. It’s filled with colorful stock photos of deserts and other Passover-related images, drawings, and far more text for participants to read. The imagery is generally nice from page to page, but as a whole feel so different from one another that it doesn’t feel like they have a unifying style or theme. This Haggadah’s dimensions are much larger — 8-1/2 x 11” — so balancing that with a glass of wine or your Hillel sandwich may be a challenge.
If you had to choose between the two, I’d recommend, well, neither. If you do the seder out of obligation and just want to get it out of the way, chances are you’ve got your grandparents’ Haggadot in a box in the attic somewhere. Dig those out, skip the boring stuff, and get to the meal.
If you feel like you want to learn more about the Exodus, you want to ruminate over the four questions, you want to discuss whether the wicked child was truly wicked or just really smart, you’re not going to find that here.


Dikla Tuchman
Drunk on Israel
Yarden sent us a bunch of new wines. So we drank them. What were we supposed to do?
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted April 08, 2014

Jew-ish was bestowed with a wine tasting bonus round this year. In addition to our annual tasting with Royal Wine Corp., this year a case of six bottles of Israeli Yarden wines showed up on our doorstep.
So we threw a small party for friends and tasted them all.
What were we supposed to do?

The tasters:
Team JTNews: Associate editor Emily K. Alhadeff, online editor Dikla Tuchman, and sales rep Cheryl Puterman.
Team Hillel: Director of programs and strategy Josh Furman and Jconnect director Elise Peizner.
Team AIPAC: Regional director Wendy Rosen and Washington and Oregon States leadership management director Lila Pinksfeld.

The wines:

Gilgal Cabernet-Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Chardonnay
Hermon red and white

The reviews:

The four Gilgal wines, with their trendy, minimalist labels depicting the enigmatic Stonehenge-like circles of 42,000 basalt rocks at Gilgal Refaim in the Golan Heights, were received favorably. Upon the first taste of the Cabernet — the first red we tried — Josh Furman exclaimed, “I taste Israel!” He may have indeed been picking up the flavor of the northern Israel soil, infused with the volcanic rock put there over a million years ago by volcanic eruptions in the region. The Gilgal reds have an alcohol percentage of 14.5 — let’s just say a little bit goes a long way.

Tasting notes:

Gilgal Chardonnay, 2011: A little sour (the aftertaste reminded me of lemon Warheads), but Lila said she “would drink it if it was on sale at QFC” and Josh would pair it with artichokes or throw it into peach sangria.

Gilgal Cabernet-Sauvignon, 2010:
Deep and toasty, with notes of cinnamon, cardamom, and plum. Vanilla cookies on the nose, smoky going down. Delicious.

Gilgal Syrah, 2010:
Deep flavor with notes of cherry or currant, buttery and smooth. Wendy would pair it with roasted vegetables. I would recommend it with brie.

merlot

Gilgal Merlot, 2009: Merlot has a bad reputation, but this one is a winner. It’s robust and oaky, yet mellow and fruity. “This is the wine for your 10 plagues,” said Josh. “Beautiful color for your plate. Smoky awesome taste.”

Hermon red, 2012
: Dikla found this “well balanced, mild, and very drinkable,” but it paled in comparison to the Gilgals. Others found it too tangy and hard to swallow.

Hermon white, 2012:
Definitely the winner of the white category. “I would totally serve this,” said Dikla. “Fruity smell, nice flavor…would purchase for fundraising events,” said Lila. Elise noticed “peachy undertones that linger on the tongue” and Wendy would drink this with grilled fish or chicken.

At the current time, only the Hermon red and white, and the Gilgal Merlot are available at local stores that carry a wide selection of kosher wines. Let’s hope the rest of the Gilgals make the “rounds” to the Northwest in due time.


Flickr/Chris and Jenni
Beeting winter vegetable blues
Joelle challenges her body and soul with a resolution to stick with, and try to love, seasonal veggies.
By Joelle Abramowitz · Posted April 02, 2014

In the midst of the East Coast Polar Vortex a few months ago, I longed for all of my favorite vegetables from the summer. The reason I didn’t just go to the supermarket and buy them, like you can do these days, is because I’ve been on a personal initiative to eat more seasonally and locally. While I have succumbed at times to avocados and cherry tomatoes, for the most part, I’ve been doing what I can to stick to my convictions. Because while avocados and cherry tomatoes can seem innocuous enough, they can really be much more dangerous than they seem, holding us back from where we want to go.

Even with my best intentions, this has been a difficult process. Despite my foodie airs, I must, reluctantly, admit: I am not so much a fan of winter vegetables. Winter squash, sweet potatoes, beets, anything sweet-ish, really — I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with them, and of course I think you should definitely eat them in abundance, but for the most part, they’re just not for me. 

Accordingly, I made my way through this experiment the best I could, seeking out vegetables that were local and seasonal and that I was also willing to eat. And I did make some exciting new discoveries. One of my favorites was the shaved Brussels sprout salad. Apparently, this concoction had been making its way around the Internet, and it was great for me as a replacement for salads using delicate summer greens. I tried a sweeter recipe using a maple cider vinaigrette and dried fruit and nuts (though I omitted the cheese and grapefruit and swapped out the hazelnuts for walnuts). While the salad itself was quite tasty, I found, much to my dismay, that it was actually very difficult to chew, making consumption of any more than a few forkfuls somewhat uncomfortable. Nonetheless, undeterred, I ventured forward with a more savory recipe (that I actually followed) using red onion, lemon, and pecorino and couldn’t get enough of it. I was also much more able to chew it, I believe because the acidity of the lemon helped to soften the sprouts. But don’t hold me to that explanation, I’m an economist, not a molecular gastronomist, after all.

I also took a try at making my own Caesar salad, using kale in place of the romaine. In the past, when trying to make my own dressing, I felt like I was searching for the Holy Grail, always trying different recipes and adjusting as I went, but never getting it just right. Perhaps it was fate, but when I tried it with massaged kale (cutting down the mayonnaise by half, to be transparent about it), everything seemed to work out perfectly. In fact, I even think I decided that I prefer the Caesar dressing with kale.

And in the end, I decided to give beets another chance. This time, I am happy to report, I found a recipe involving beets that I like that remarkably showcases their flavor more than hiding them away in chocolate cake. It’s rare that I find a recipe that has several components that all go together perfectly, and this is one of those. The whole wheat spaghetti is topped with a roasted beet puree turning everything a lovely shade of magenta. The pasta and beets get bathed in a sauce of browned butter and poppy seeds, which add richness and depth to the otherwise sweet and one-dimensional flavor. Finally, on top goes creamy goat cheese adding a tangy contrast to round things out. It doesn’t get much better than that, and believe me, I never thought I’d say that about anything involving beets.

So it seems that sometimes you need to limit yourself in order to expand yourself. By restraining myself from eating my summer vegetable loves, I enjoyed produce that was fresh and tasty, and I felt emboldened to challenge myself and try new things. And it goes to show that sometimes we have to create space for our goals because they may be too lofty to attain otherwise. As spring and Passover are approaching and with new vegetables and beginnings just around the corner, it warrants considering: where do we want to go? And what do we need to let go of to get there? I’ll leave that for each of us to consider, but wherever it is for you, I hope you get there eating well.


Josh Kun/Courtesy SJCC
Black-Jewish harmonies
We all know how Jews have supported the plights of African Americans. A scholar talks about the inverse relationship — how African Americans interpreted Jewish music.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted April 01, 2014

“Black Sabbath” will be presented on Sunday, April 6 at 2 p.m. at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. Cost for the event is $8 for SJCC members, seniors and students $12 general admission.

Seattle has arguably been experiencing a Jewish musical revival, seen primarily in the form of klezmer music injected into local folk groups and the popularity of musicians like Nissim, bringing a hip-hop message of the Jewish–African-American experience.
In line with this current trend, Los Angeles musical scholar Josh Kun will visit Seattle on April 6 to present his project, “Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black Jewish Relations” for the Stroum Jewish Community Center’s Jewish Touch series.
“Black Sabbath” is the first compilation to ever showcase legendary African-American artists covering Jewish songs. With a focus on the 1930s through the ’60s, “Black Sabbath” uses popular music to illuminate the historical, political, spiritual, economic and cultural connections between African Americans and Jewish Americans. This compilation features quintessential African-American musical artists such as Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne and Cab Calloway. In the same vein as Nissim’s musical message, “Black Sabbath” attempts to explore the myriad ways that Jews and African Americans have struggled against each other and struggled alongside each other.
The University of Southern California associate professor of communication and journalism points out that “Black Sabbath” is a good example of how we approach our work across a variety of platforms: An album, an exhibit, live performances, and online video histories of veteran performers.
“We knew all about the well-documented history of Black-Jewish relations in the U.S., but were struck by just how much that history focused on the Jewish participation in African-American music and not on the inverse,” said Kun.
He pointed to a recording of “Kol Nidre” by Johnny Mathis, which he called the spark that opened up a the floodgates to artists from Nina Simone to Franklin, and revealed new perspectives on music’s role in the civil rights movement.
“In my research as a scholar and in my work as part of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, I’ve looked mostly at musical exchanges between Jews, Latinos, and African-Americans,” Kun said. “We’ve been mostly interested in the more untold stories of Jewish-American culture and music.”
Kun explains that the next project for the Idelsohn Society will focus on how a particular chain of Jewish-American women, from the 1930s-’70s, used music and musical comedy as a way of pushing the boundaries of sex and gender norms — a kind of Jewish burlesque feminism.
Music was an important piece of Kun’s experience growing up, his childhood home always filled with music, especially the songs of the Weavers. Their “approach to music, radical politics and internationalism…left an indelible mark on how I listen to music,” he said.
“Music has always been a central part of my life and has always played a powerful role in shaping how I see the world and my place in it,” Kun said. “More than anything, my sense of what Jewish means came from listening to records and being able, in private, to figure out where I fit — if I fit— in all the stories and histories I inherited.”
Kun’s talk mixes storytelling and history with rare audio and video footage to bring the “Black Sabbath” story to life.
“My hope is that the audience will revisit the musical past with me as part of a larger hope that it at least does a little work in changing the way we think about questions of race and culture in American life,” he said.


Paul Kolnik
Gaga for dance
Two amazing Israeli choreographers' works come to Seattle starting this week.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted March 31, 2014

“Preludes et Fugues” runs April 3-5 at Meany Hall, University of Washington. Tickets cost $39-$44. For tickets and information visit uwworldseries.org.
“Minus 16” appears with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, April 11-13, at the Paramount, 911 Pine St. Tickets cost $21.25-$71.25. For tickets and information visit http://www.stgpresents.org or call 877-784-4849.

Two powerful dance performances by noted Israeli choreographers sashay onto Seattle stages in April.
Although “sashay” is too balletic word to describe and Emanuel Gat’s “Preludes et Fugues” and Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16.”
Both Gat and Naharin are contemporary dancers trained in Israel with international reputations. Gat, a resident with the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève (Geneva Ballet), got his start dancing at the ripe age of 23 with the Liat Dror Nir Ben Gal Company. Naharin was picked up by modern dance matriarch Martha Graham and went on to pioneer the popular “Gaga” school of dance, a sort of freestyle movement philosophy that connects dancers to their bodies.
Gat’s “Preludes et Fugues” is the Geneva Ballet’s Seattle debut. It hits the stage at Meany Hall April 3-5 as part of the University of Washington World Series. Naharin’s “Minus 16” appears as part of the lineup with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle April 11-13.
Michelle Witt, executive director of Meany Hall and artistic director of the UW World Series, is excited to bring the Geneva Ballet to Seattle for the first time. When presented with the option of “Preludes” or “Sleeping Beauty,” Witt went for the former. Gat’s piece, set to J.S. Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier,” is described as a “hypnotic reflection on human interaction.”
“There is a lot of beautiful weight sharing, winding and unwinding of bodies,” Witt said of Gat’s complex choreography. “They are classical ballet dancers, but it doesn’t have ballet mannerisms, per se.”
The Geneva Ballet was also willing to work with live music, which was important to Witt. Rather than performing to a recording, UW pianist and doctoral student Brooks Tran will perform Bach’s piece live.
“The company was surprisingly flexible,” Witt said.
Despite coming from the same small country, Gat’s work stands in contrast to Naharin’s. Naharin steers dancers away from performance and back toward themselves. His studios are notoriously mirror-free.
“It’s something very unique, significant, and doesn’t look like anything else,” said Danielle Agami, one of Naharin’s dancers. Agami staged the Alvin Ailey production, but is currently in Atlanta working with another company. She considers herself an ambassador to Naharin’s approach.
“Dancers should be trying [Gaga] because it brings a lot of pleasure,” she said. “It just supports your life because it brings joy.”
“Minus 16” (the title has no meaning, if you’re wondering) is a compilation of seven dances set to an eclectic playlist, including “Hava Nagilah,” Vivaldi’s “Nisi Dominis,” “Over the Rainbow,” and a pounding version of the Passover learning chant “Echad Mi Yodea?” by Israeli rock group Tractor’s Revenge. 
Training the Alvin Ailey dancers in Naharin’s Gaga style was a challenge, said Agami.
“It was new for me to teach a company that’s so well established, but actually never touched something like that,” she said. “It’s interesting to see how tradition shifts to accommodate a new medium.”
Naharin has said that he doesn’t believe a dance culture has yet emerged out of Israel, but to an outsider familiar with the country (and its ubiquitous dance parties) the fluid, constant, introspective movements of Gaga appear uniquely Israeli.
“The pressure and undoing the pressure…to feel that you constantly need more room to contain more information and to forgive…I think that’s definitely our passion to yield, and our passion to forgive, and to continue and create a future,” Agami said.
“It’s very much in the now and about innovation,” she said. “Gaga’s relevant everywhere.”
On the other hand, “[‘Preludes et Fugues’] is more contemporary and modern,” said UW’s Witt. “It’s very visceral and contemporary aesthetic.”
But to put dance into words is to defeat the purpose, some might say. It’s meant to be seen, felt, interpreted.
In a video interview, Gat articulates this.
“If you try to verbalize it falls apart, it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “If you just take it as it is it makes sense. You don’t have to go further.”


Jenny Jimenez / photojj.com
The Weekend Guide
Klezmer debauchery, freedom songs, book lovers, arts and crafts, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted March 27, 2014

Friday

Shabbaton with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
All weekend — “Tales of Religious Mystery: When the Sacred Makes Guest Appearances in the Ordinary.” Rabbi Kushner is widely regarded as one of the most creative religious writers and teachers in America, having helped shape the present agenda for personal and institutional spiritual renewal. Sessions include: Ayeka? I’m Here; Where Are You, Reading Zohar: Romance & Revelation, Something & Nothing: Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism and the Life of the Spirit, Gan Aden and All the Fuss About the Fruit, Hasidic Stories & a Few of Kushner’s, Nine Utterances and One Thing: An Examination of Sinai’s Content.
At Herzl-Ner Tamid, 3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Saturday

The Debaucherauntes with Okestar Zirkonium and The Lonely Coast
9 p.m. — Described as “wild klezmer fusion with a cabaret twist! Dancing, whiskey-soaked singalongs, heartbreaking truths… everything you wish your circus-themed Bar Mitzvah would have been” the Debaucherauntes are celebrating their one year anniversary with awesome Balkan band Orkestar Zirkonium and folksy Lonely Coast. This is going to be fun, we can feel it. $5-$15 and all ages until 10 p.m.
At the Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S.

Sunday

Make Your Own Seder Plate
10 a.m. — Join glass artist Roger Nachman and make your own fused glass seder plate. In this introductory workshop learn about the different ritual objects represented on the plate, and learn the basics of working with colorful glass, including selecting, cutting, and combining to build a complete piece that will be used by your family for years to come. You will assemble your prepared layers of glass to be fused and then slumped into a plate form. Participants of all levels will explore this colorful, fun medium. All materials as well as a bagel and lox lunch included. $85 per person.
At310 NW 40th St. Sign up here.

Freedom Song

2 p.m. — Freedom Song is an original play that uses contemporary music to explore the deeply Jewish yet very universal desire for freedom that is in the Passover story. The 50-minute production is performed by alumni from Beit T’Shuvah, a residential addiction treatment center in Los Angeles. The performance will be followed by a post-play discussion with the performers. Hillel UW is a partner in presenting Freedom Song with Jewish Family Service, Stroum Jewish Community Center and the Alhadeff Family Charitable Foundation.
At the Stroum JCC, 3801 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island
From Door to Door
2 p.m. — James Sherman’s play about three generations of Jewish women, from immigrant to full-fledged American. Through portraying the humorous, loving and demanding interactions between mothers daughters and granddaughter, the play looks at what it means to be raised Jewish, and what it means to love those closest to, and most like, ourselves. As life progresses from childhood to matrimony to motherhood, we see how each successive generation of women lives up to the expectations of the past and makes choices about the future. At the end of the play, the three women stand as links in a chain made of faith, love, and understanding.
At Ezra Bessaroth, 5217 S Brandon St.
NEST NE Seattle Treasures with Nancy Pearl and Steve Scher
5 p.m. — Bibliophiles Nancy and Steve, from library and NPR local fame, talk about the treasures of used book stores. $75. We assume you’re going to get something amazing out of this.
At Faith Lutheran Church, 8208 18th Ave. NE

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 7:15
This week’s parsha is Tazria
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Beit T'Shuvah
Pharaohs of addiction
A theater troupe comes to a Seattle stage to talk about the Jewish — and universal — message of freedom from addiction.
By Erin Pike · Posted March 25, 2014

If you go: “Freedom Song” will be performed Sunday, March 30 at 2 p.m. at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island. Tickets are $5 and can be reserved by contacting Laura Kramer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-861-8782. For more information about Beit T’Shuvah, visit beittshuvah.wordpress.com.

On March 30, two weeks before the liberation-themed holiday of Passover, the Stroum Jewish Community Center is hosting a performance of “Freedom Song,” a musical workshop about freedom from addiction. “Freedom Song” is an original production of Los Angeles-based Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish residential recovery facility with over 100 residents. JTNews correspondent Erin Pike spoke with James Fuchs, Beit T’Shuvah’s artistic director; underwriter Kenny Alhadeff, of the Kenneth and Marleen Alhadeff Charitable Foundation; and Laura Kramer, Jewish Family Service’s Alternatives to Addiction counselor/educator. The 50-minute production, featuring a cast of Beit T’Shuvah alumni, is co-sponsored by the Stroum JCC and JFS, along with BBYO Evergreen Region, Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, Camp Solomon Schechter, City of Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, Congregation Beth Shalom, Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation, Livnot Chai, Temple Beth Am, Temple B’nai Torah, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, and the University of Washington Hillel.
How was Freedom Song created?
James Fuchs: In 2004, when I joined Beit T’Shuvah as the music director, I mentioned I wrote a musical called “Figaro’s Divorce,” and that I’d like to produce it at Beit T’Shuvah. There was no objection; [the organization] really wanted to do something with theater. “Figaro’s Divorce” was so successful that Rabbi Mark Borovitz said, “we have to have a Beit T’Shuvah play.” In 2005 Craig Calman, who was affiliated with Beit T’Shuvah, mentioned that he was doing a production called “Let Freedom Sing,” where there were many events happening in Los Angeles simultaneously through the week of Passover. One of the things he wanted to include was a play written by Beit T’Shuvah. Originally it wasn’t supposed to be a musical, it was supposed to be a play. The [Beit T’Shuvah] cantor at that time was Rebekah Mirsky, so myself and Rebekah got together and said, “let’s make a performance piece, let’s add some songs.” We wrote about 12 songs for the first draft, called “Freedom,” that would eventually become “Freedom Song.” Then [writer/director] Stuart K. Robinson came on board. He said, “I’d like to find some writings from residents that tell their story.” We met every Sunday at Beit T’Shuvah, and Stuart had residents write. He would take their writings and then bring it back and say, “This is what your story was, in a paragraph.” Stuart cut and added songs. That was the birth of “Freedom Song.”
So the performance is autobiographical?
JF: Absolutely. As the play developed and evolved, what we found out was that some of the monologues that we had originally written pertained to that original person. When we brought in new actors to play those roles, we found out that you could write your own monologue. It’s the same play, but slightly different, because you hear different perspectives from other people’s stories.
How did it grow into a touring production?
JF: This play was only supposed to be performed one time six years ago, but it never stopped. We had no control over this, it became this thing where people said, “We’d like this at our temple.” So we had done a lot of shows locally in Los Angeles. That was the springboard for our traveling.  In 2007, we ended up in St. Louis at the Conference in Alternatives for Jewish Education convention. That was our first traveling gig. Someone sponsored flying 23 residents to St. Louis. That’s when they realized [touring] is something that can be done. It was a huge success. From then on, we’ve been to New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Minnesota. It sort of took off.
What was the process of inviting Freedom Song to Seattle?
Laura Kramer: I heard about this play, and I thought this might be something that would be normalizing and lighter than the other events that deal with addiction. I proposed it well over a year ago, knowing that Beit T’Shuvah had gone to the East Coast, where they had really loved the performance and had a good turn out. I called Beit T’Shuvah to see if coming to Seattle was an option, and then it got rolling.
Do you feel that the medium of musical theater is an effective way to discuss addiction?
Kenny Alhadeff: I don’t think there’s any subject that’s too intense, too serious, to not be addressed through musical theater. Song is a way of expressing human emotions. [“Freedom Song”] is a genuine production of people in recovery sharing their stories, which, hopefully, will open some minds and eyes and hearts. It’s about lifting the veil of ignorance in our community around addiction. The concept of “well, Jews don’t really have these problems…” we don’t have it any more or any less than anybody else. My personal goal is to open every pathway of opportunity to recovery for every human being on the planet, whether they are Jewish or not Jewish. But being Jewish, I have a passion to make sure that we do not put up roadblocks to that opportunity through lack of understanding. There is no one that isn’t touched by the issue of addiction. [“Freedom Song” is] a chance to lift the soul and fuel a connection. These [performers] are people in recovery who are artistic and expressive, and every time they do this piece, they are putting another building block in the foundation of their recovery. If one person is inspired to deal with the addiction that may be destroying their lives by coming to this [show], it will all be worth it.
What does addiction have in common with the story of Passover?
KA: It’s freedom from bondage. And addiction is slavery. Addiction is bondage. The tragedy [with addiction] is you are your own pharaoh; you have put your chains on yourself.
Will there be any special post-show discussions or follow-up conversations for those who attend?
LK: In the after-session, the actors talk about their own stories and people can ask questions. Idealistically, people will be more willing to reach out for help [after seeing the performance].
What benefits do you hope this production will have within our community?
KA: Partners in the community have come together for this, and that in itself, that collaborative effort, that “putting the light in the darkness of addiction in our community,” that makes this already successful. It’s the ability for people to share dialogue and face this situation that can affect any human being. We are so thrilled and excited that the leaders and partner organizations in the Jewish community have stood up and said “no, not here, not our community. We will lift the veil of darkness, we will give people opportunities for recovery and hope in their lives.” It’s going to be a celebration of human spirit and victory, day by day, one day at a time. There’s no recovery that is completed; it is a continual journey. There will be a feeling in the air, a feeling of hope and a feeling of opportunity.


Corinne Pascale
Reconciling my Germanies
An American comes to terms with a country she could never forgive.
By Corinne Pascale · Posted March 24, 2014

Deutschland. The very name for Germany has always rumbled in my head in a booming, proud voice. Heil Deutschland. Heil Hitler.
I grew up in a diverse community in central New Jersey and attended a Jewish nursery school and pre-kindergarten. We studied Hebrew and Jewish history, and learned the realities of life as a modern American Jew. We read of World War II and the Holocaust. Six million Jews dead. Gypsies mutilated. Homosexuals shamed. We observed Yom HaZikron and memorialized the losses of the Holocaust in moments of silence.
In my young mind, Germany would always be as it was in those Hebrew school films: filled with throngs of adults and children attending rallies and cheering the name of their leader. Those grainy videos of World War II Germany were terrifying. Hitler gestured and spoke forcefully – yelling and stamping and hateful, petulant against the Allies. His followers watched adoringly, and I was confused to see children my own age in the crowds. Although my elementary school education taught me to be inclusive and observe morality, I was instilled with revulsion for Germany. Never forget.
Born 40 years removed from the atrocities of the Holocaust, I was nevertheless born under its influence. No direct member of my family had been persecuted in the Holocaust; we were fortunate enough to escape Eastern Europe during times of civil war and stake out a future on the golden streets of America. However, my parents and grandparents were not soon to forget.  The phrases against Germany were regular in my house: “I’ll never let you buy a German car.” “I couldn’t set foot on that country.”  I came to despise the entire nation.
In high school, we were presented with the option to learn foreign languages: French, Spanish, or German. I felt betrayed by friends who willingly studied German. The language sounded disgusting to my ears, not romantic like French or musical like Spanish. How could anyone study under that flag?
Late in high school, I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I walked through rooms filled with the shoes or glasses of victims. I peered into lit boxes that described the medical research performed on detainees, struggling to understand how anyone could treat another person like less than an animal. I learned of the studies performed by Stanley Milgrim, on how an authority figure can coerce someone into performing torturous acts against others. My anger only grew stronger – these citizens, guards, and soldiers must have been psychologically vulnerable. Weak.
I went on my Birthright Israel trip in my sophomore year of college. We went on our requisite visit to Yad Vashem and I met my first Holocaust survivor. She was lovely, so fragile but fiery and willing to spare no detail about her shtetl days. I didn’t understand how a young girl could be persecuted by adults that she’d never met, who knew nothing about her. This trip was preceded by my first introduction to a German citizen — my lab partner in computer engineering. F was short and had brown-blond hair, always carrying a welcoming smile and twinkling blue eyes.  He was patient and smart, and he stood against what I thought of Germany and its people.
Two images of Germany began to spar in my mind: The Germany of the WWII era that would generate people like me, and the Germany of today that would generate people like F. 
Just after graduate school, I made my third trip to Israel. This time I met and mingled with more foreign travelers than ever before. I shared my hostel room with two young German women. We drank Heinekens together on the balcony in the mild March Tel Aviv weather. Both were fascinated by Jewish history and Israeli culture. They were kind and respectful. Much like F had done, they made me question my feelings towards Germany. All the Germans I’d met were just like me.
At the end of my trip, I volunteered in Kfar Saba, where I chatted in broken Hebrew or English with residents of an assisted living facility. S and I hit it off when he showed me the personal computer he’d built for himself. S was an engineer and vegetarian, just like me. S was a Holocaust survivor. He was ridiculed for his vegetarian lifestyle by German soldiers and forced to eat meat. However, S had found his freedom. He moved to Israel after the war to build a new life. He raised strong children who went on to play important roles in the nascent years of the country. He had persevered and thrived in Israel. Part of his strength was due to his ability to move on.
This past winter, I traveled with my mother and sister to Greece, and we had a layover in the Munich airport. N, my graduate school roommate, was researching at the Planck Society in Berlin. Despite my nerves, I knew this was my chance to change my perspective on Germany. We extended the layover so that we could visit with him.
When our plane landed in Munich, my palms began to sweat. The booming voice over the loudspeaker welcomed us to Deutschland and brought up memories of the videos I watched in Hebrew school. We shuffled off the plane to find a well-appointed airport and took one more flight Berlin to meet N. As we drove into the city, Berlin looked like any other part of Europe that I’d seen. It was clean and orderly, the buses ran on schedule and the streets were filled with gleaming German automobiles. No, this was not the grainy, black-and-white Germany I’d envisioned, full of rallies and swastikas.  It was 40 years in the future, still carrying the burden of memories.
We spent our days visiting archaeology museums and shivering at outdoor craft markets. We cooked dinners in our rented apartment and spent our nights suppering with N, drinking beer and sparkling wine and philosophizing about science. We stumbled happily through Christkindlmarkets — expansive street festivals celebrating Christmas with hot spiced glühwein and soft gingerbread, craft stores and games and firepits.  Berlin was magical to me.
Germany doesn’t shy away from its history. We spent a day in the Berlin Jewish Museum, where the English translations were often abrupt, telling careful stories of Jewish-German citizens and killing them in one line: He/she was sent to Auschwitz and died there. Or, he/she later perished in a work camp. The museum almost seemed unforgiving of its own history. It directed visitors from stories of the Holocaust into a darkened seven-story shaft that invited self-reflection before freeing them into the post-war story of Jews in Germany.
In Berlin, I frequently caught myself slipping into grim thoughts. We would be on the bus, on our way back to Museum Island, and I would see an older man. “Did he or his parents commit atrocities against my people?” 
But I would quickly recover. My people were their people as much as my own: German Jews.  The Berlin Jewish Museum had taught me that it wasn’t only forgiveness that I was to provide, but understanding as well. What had happened was terrible, and nothing could ever be done to repair it. But what had been done hadn’t been forgotten — modern Germans knew of the Holocaust and studied and repented.
Everyone in Berlin was kind to us. They were eager to help us when they found us stopped with a map, directed us towards restaurants that served vegetarian schnitzel, and willing to snap our photos at the Christkindlmarkets. On our last night in Berlin, I went into a smoky coffee shop to buy a slice of takeaway torte and a bottle of schnapps. I looked around me at the bright-eyed conversations of Germans, noticing that most of them were my age. A man shuffled through the bar, trying to sell a newspaper that highlighted the plight of the local homeless. In a few short days, I would be participating in a near-identical scene back in Seattle. I could have fit right in, but birth had fated me to live in America.
Forty years passed between the Holocaust and my birth. In those years, S raised his strong Israeli family and F and my hostel roommates were born, raised to know the evils that had come and gone in Germany. S had come to accept what had been done to him, and I was stuck in the past. It was my trip to Berlin that helped me to accept Germany, its past and its future. After all: If not now, when?


Flickr/Ariela R.
The Weekend Guide
Looking for something Jew-ish to do this weekend?
By Jew-ish staff · Posted March 20, 2014

Friday

LGBTQ Shabbat
6:30 p.m. — It’s Friday…you had a long week…what better way to celebrate Shabbat than with a bunch of LGBTQ Jews?! Join Kolenu, the young adult GLBTQ group, for a festive potluck dinner. Please bring a vegetarian dish to share. Please RSVP for the address in Ravenna. Contact: Josh at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Andy Kindler
8 p.m. and 10 p.m. — Described like a “nervous Long Island dentist who can’t find his car keys” Andy Kindler follows in the weirdly successful clumsy footsteps of nebbishe comedians who have made American comedy practically synonymous with “Jewish.” Two more shows at 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, too.
At Laughs Comedy Spot, 12099 124th Ave. NE, Kirkland

Saturday

Brundibar
4 p.m. — A new production of this children’s opera, directed by Erich Parce and starring some of Seattle’s most gifted young singers, many from the Northwest Boychoir and Vocalpoint, with special guest Ela Stein Weissberger. Weissberger is the only cast member to have appeared in every performance of this Terezin-based opera, and to survive to this day.
At Seattle Children’s Theatre, 201 Thomas St.

Daniel Rossen
8 p.m. — With a name like “Daniel Raphael Rossen” we were like, obviously this guy must be Jewish. That’s just one “s” away from Rosen. Just goes to show our Jewdar is up and running. This adorable musician is the guitarist/vocalist from Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles and the grandson of filmmaker Robert Rossen (ne Rosen and certifiably Jewish). He’s in town for a solo show following his 2012 solo release “Silent Hour/Golden Mile.”
At Neumos, 925 E Pike St. 21-plus.

Sunday

Skiing at Snoqualmie Summit East
9 a.m. — This side of the mountain has great runs, isn’t overcrowded, and is conducive for all ski levels, whether you’re just beginning on green runs or want a little backcountry action. Meet Paul by 9 at the base lift. You can buy a lift ticket there or in advance. Cost for a full day is $62. If you are in need of rental equipment, you can rent on the way up to the mountain at Summit West. Lunch together in the lodge at the base. Questions about carpooling or anything else please direct to Paul Chodosh at 612-210-3352 or paul.chodosh at gmail.com.

Brundibar
7 p.m. — A second and final performance of the powerful opera.
At Seattle Children’s Theatre, 201 Thomas St.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 7:05
This week’s parsha is Shemini
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Genome testing makes Jewish identity more complicated, more rewarding
Personal genome testing reveals all sorts of crazy things we never could have known about our Jewish selves.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted March 19, 2014

Who is a Jew?
This oft-pondered, never sufficiently answered question was the topic of a recent three-part class led by Rabbi Oren Hayon for Jconnectors at Hillel at the University of Washington this winter.
But this was no ordinary identity discussion group. Hayon was approached by 23andMe, a DNA testing company, which offered its Personal Genome Service test for $36, just more than a third of its standard $99. With a drop of saliva, 23andMe analyzes your DNA for ancestry and unique genetic markers. Around three dozen participants received DNA analysis, which can identify Jewish origins.
“I have been interested in how Jewish identity is constructed and maintained in Jewish young adults for a long time,” said Hayon. “That’s at the core of my work.”
Hayon turned to the Tanach, early rabbinic texts, and later commentators for insights into Jewish identity, especially on how it is bestowed upon Jews by choice.
While people come to Judaism on all kinds of personal and spiritual trajectories, rites like conversion — which requires immersion in mikvah waters — prioritize the physical body.
“There is clearly a sort of bodily component to Judaism,” said Hayon.
And now we can trace our Jewish identity right down to our DNA.
For geneticists, and for many Jews, that’s exciting.
According to Catherine Afarian, spokesperson for 23andMe, the company reached out to the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, which is how Hayon found out about the opportunity. Geneticists are interested in Ashkenazi Jews in particular because the group is a fairly homogenous genetic sample and functions as a kind of control for studies. (European and Asian populations are sought for the same reason.) Furthermore, 23andMe hopes to learn more about genetic diseases and conditions that Ashkenazi Jews tend to carry, like Tay-Sachs, Crohn’s, and the BRCA breast cancer gene. While the FDA halted 23andMe’s health report service, which alerted customers about genetic issues that showed up in their results, Afarian says they are still collecting this data for research purposes but cannot market it until regulation is in place.
For the majority of Personal Genome Service test-takers, understanding who they are, genetically, is the most interesting thing.
Corinne Pascale, an engineer at Caradigm and participant in the project, tested because she wanted to know more about her family.
“My mother was born Jewish, my father was not. He converted in. There’s a little bit of mystery surrounding him,” she said. Pascale had stories about both sides of her family, but no facts about who they were.
“There are all these really weird stories but there’s no paper trail,” she said. “As an engineer I’m enamored with numbers and concrete proof rather than stories.”
Pascale ended up locating her family’s specific origins and finding relatives no one knew existed.
“I think about myself now as link in a larger chain,” she said. “Now I see myself as this sum total of all these people. It’s 100 percent you, but now I realize how much of that 100 percent is other people.”
Pascale is far from the only one to be blown away by test results. Afarian, the 23andMe spokesperson, found out she was 50 percent Ashkenazi Jewish when she was 35.
Afarian’s parents had a one-night stand, and she never knew anything about her father, except that her mother thought he was Italian. It turns out he was Jewish.
“That was really informative because I was about to have my first child,” she said. “I’m still figuring out what it means to be Jewish.”
Since the first human genome was mapped in 2003 for $3 billion, technology and investments have brought the cost of send-away genome test kits down to just $99. Also bringing the cost down is the fact that the kits don’t sequence the entire genome, which is nearly identical for everyone, but just the variant part that traces the things that make us individuals.
Pascale was so affected by the test that she is building a website for Jewish genetic research. She’s basically picking up what 23andMe was forced to close, a service that informs Personal Genome Service customers about their risk for genetic diseases.
“If you look at the raw data you can actually draw your own conclusions,” she said.
With the help of her fiancé, Zach Stroum, Pascale is building a site, OyMyGenes.com, which is due to launch in April. OyMG, for short, will analyze results from 23andMe for the standard panel of Ashkenazi diseases.
“You are either at typical odds or you’re at increased risk,” she said. This is good information to have. But Pascale is very clear that this is not a replacement for professional medical consultation. She sees OyMG as a stopgap measure until 23andMe can resume its health reports.
“It’s a fun personal project that has a lot of meaning to me,” she said.
Lizzie Dorfman, a doctoral student in public health genetics at UW and a geneticist for 23andMe who helped Hayon facilitate the class, believes mapping our Jewish genomes may be a way to preserve history, particularly as we move away from events like the Holocaust.
“There’s a wide spectrum of how people identify as Jewish,” she said. Whether it’s matrilineal descent, or “dip and snip,” she said, “it offers a fruitful foundation for an interesting conversation.”
For Pascale, DNA is the link to family information lost between wars and the Holocaust.
“My genetic lineage is the paper trail. That data is all I have left of them right now,” she said. “These people lived and died and they loved and they got here…. I’ll never see their handwriting, but their stories are still being written.”


Creative Commons/Alan Denney
The Weekend Guide
A freilechen Purim!
By Jew-ish staff · Posted March 13, 2014

Friday

Italian Shabbat
7 p.m. — Traditional Italian meal for a traditional Jewish day. Drinks and shmoozing at 7, services at 7:30, meatballs immediately following. $12, $6 for grad students, or pay what you can. RSVP kindly requested.

Saturday

Erev Purim! For oodles of Purim events, click here!

Vintage Purim
8 p.m. — You may have gone to Purim parties before, but this year Jconnect is shining a whole new light on the story of Esther! Think back to the days of the Seattle Super Sonics and Jimi Hendrix and get ready for an unforgettable night of partying with music by DJ Nicky B, and tons of old school Seattle fun. Doors open at 8, Megillah at 8:30, party starts at 9. Tickets $15.
At The Crocodile, 2200 2nd Ave.

Sunday

Purim! Hear the Megillah, give gifts of food to friends, and make sure to give some tzedakah.
For lots of Purim community events, click here!

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:46
This week’s parsha is Tzav
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Alice C. Gray
The art of memory
A Jconnect trip to a little-known part of the world produces a phenomenal art show here in Seattle.
By Tori Gottlieb · Posted March 13, 2014

Gray’s artwork is currently on display at University of Washington Hillel, and her exhibit, which is free and open to the public, has no formal end date. For more information on Alice C. Gray and to see samples of her paintings, visit her website at pbase.com/alycone/siberiapaint.

Late last month, University of Washington Hillel opened its doors to the artwork of Alice C. Gray, a local oil painter whose most recent works center around a the Jewish community living in Russia’s Far East.
Gray’s project was inspired by a trip she took in the summer of 2011 to Russia’s Far East, beyond Siberia. The trip, sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and organized on the Seattle end by Jconnect, sent fourteen young adults from the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast to the Khabarovsk and Birobidzhan to educate them about the struggles of the Jewish communities. The participants were briefed on the history and the conditions of the communities, met with recipients of JDC aid, did service projects, and spent many hours just hanging out with the young adults in Khabarovsk who were excited about their Jewish identity — in many cases, an identity they had only recently become aware of.
The JDC, founded in 1914, is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. It provides assistance to Jews throughout the world, particularly in impoverished areas or areas in which the community is rebuilding — both of which apply to the former Soviet Union.
“People were sent [to the Russian Far East] as teenagers under Stalin, and a lot of them were forced to hide or bury their Jewish heritage in order to fit in,” said Gray, who added that the communities suffer from huge age gaps. Most of the residents are elderly or very young due to the emigration of many of the residents who would now be middle-aged. Many of those who remain suffer from abject poverty, and many receive aid from the JDC for food, medicine, and young children’s needs.
Gray started painting and drawing as a child, but didn’t begin oil painting until she was in her early 20s. For the last four years, she has been a student of Atelier, a French art instruction model that allows students to work on their own projects under the guidance of teachers. She has been working on this series of paintings since the group returned two-and-a-half years ago.
“I just felt like this was a slice of the world that people didn’t get to see,” said Gray. “It’s continuously changing. The elderly people aren’t going to be there forever, and the young people are going to grow up. It was something I really wanted to capture.”
Gray produced nearly a hundred paintings based on her travels to Russia’s Far East, but said the “shattered” series was her favorite to paint. Inspired by famed Jewish artist Marc Chagall, Gray was able to try a new style of painting while working to depict the idea of the Jewish community being broken and then reassembled.
“There was something uniquely inspiring about the Jewish community there,” Gray said. “I felt like if I didn’t record or paint it, then maybe no one would.”
Other members of the group echoed Gray’s sentiments, including Josh Furman, who works for University of Washington Hillel and attended the trip as a staff member when he was the director of Jconnect.
“Parts of the trip were really challenging, but it was important to see some of the difficult things facing Jews in that region,” Furman said. He explained that the trip embodied a strange dichotomy, particularly between the impoverished elderly persons — many were Holocaust survivors — and the energy of the younger populations who were excitedly reviving Jewish life in the region.
“The Hillel staff and leaders [in Russia] were doing such important and meaningful work, and you could see the passion that they brought every day,” Furman said. “I was lucky that we were able to work with them.”
Furman thinks Gray has done a phenomenal job capturing the communities they visited in her paintings.
“I’m not surprised that she created so many pieces, considering the diversity of what we saw,” said Furman. “I’m very impressed with her commitment to detail and accuracy.”
Joanne Rossignol also went on the trip with Gray and Furman, and has already bought several of Gray’s prints, including one of a cemetery gate where the group had volunteered to clean up neglected Jewish graves. Gray was initially concerned that no one would want a cemetery gate hanging on their wall, but Rossignol reassured her that she did: It meant that someone who otherwise might be forgotten would be remembered.
“It was one of those moments that makes me feel like I’ve succeeded in my artistic goals,” Gray said.
Rossignol added that the group members are so inspired by Gray’s work that they are trying to set up a showing with the JDC in New York.
“She definitely deserves the recognition,” Rossignol said, “but I also feel that it’s a great way to keep that [region] in everyone’s mind.”


Courtesy Ela Stein Weissberger
Music v. evil
The powerful opera Brundibár goes up in Seattle next weekend with a very special guest — for the last time.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted March 12, 2014

“Brundibár” will be performed Saturday, March 22 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at Seattle Children’s Theatre, 201 Thomas St., Seattle. For more information and tickets to the show and the tribute dinner, visit musicofremembrance.org.

Two poor children, desperate for milk for their ailing mother, go to the marketplace to perform for spare change, only to be drowned out by a wicked organ grinder — Brundibár — who monopolizes the audience. But with a little resilience and help from a dog, cat, and sparrow, the children prevail. Goodness vanquishes evil.
This is the premise of the beloved children’s opera “Brundibár,” composed by Czech musicians Hans Krása and Adolf Hoffmeister in 1938 shortly before the Nazis invaded their country. Deported to Terezín, Krása reconstructed the opera. It went on to be performed by children 55 times and, despite the irony of the material, was propagandized as proof of happiness and cultural vibrancy at the concentration camp. Krása, along with most of the children performers, were transported to Auschwitz, where they were killed. Goodness is vanquished; evil prevails.
Only one of the original Terezín performers appeared in all 55 productions, and survived. Ela Stein Weissberger, who played the role of the cat, has devoted her life to promoting “Brundibár.” Now 83, Weissberger travels to “Brundibár” productions around the world.
Weissberger will visit Seattle March 22-23 for Music of Remembrance’s production of “Brundibár” at Seattle Children’s Theatre.
“Ela has, as her personal goal in life, to share the story of ‘Brundibár’ and her message of hope and courage,” said Mina Miller, MOR’s founder and artistic director. “She’s quite a luminary.”
The opera, adapted by Tony Kushner and directed by Erich Parce, is comprised of talented child performers from Northwest BoyChoir and VocalPoint! Joseph Crnko conducts a 12-piece ensemble, with Miller on piano.
“It’s innocent, it’s engaging, it brings an unforgettable message of hope in the darkest of times,” said Miller. “It honors the lives and the legacy of those courageous persons, especially children, whose creative work was an expression of spiritual resistance to tyranny.”
An MOR fundraising tribute dinner at The Ruins in honor of Weissberger will follow the March 22 performance.
This is Weissberger’s second trip to Seattle for MOR’s production of “Brundibár.” She came in 2006 when MOR put up the show at Benaroya Hall.
“Of all the performances she’s been to in her life, she said ours was the best,” Miller told JTNews. Yet at the time, Weissberger was critical of MOR’s decision to cast young adults in the roles of children.
“This performance is very traditional,” Miller said. The performers will be younger, and the theater space allows for a set.
Since the last “Brundibár,” Miller said parents have been asking when the Seattle-based Holocaust music organization will bring it back.
“It’s been eight years, and there is a whole new generation,” she said.
However, according to Miller, this will be the last “Brundibár” run for MOR.
“It’s a huge investment in time and effort,” she said. “I think this is it. It will be up to someone else. This is it for Seattle.”
“Brundibár” is recommended for audiences age 8 and up, and presents kids with the historical Holocaust without the crushing heaviness of its reality.
“It gives them a palpable example of facing evil and forming an empowered response to it,” said Miller. “It’s timeless. It’s so accessible to children and their families.”
Miller turns to Kushner, who provides notes to his adaptation:
“Instead of false comfort, ‘Brundibár’ offers inspiration to action, and exhortation. Be brave, and you can make bullies behave! Rely on friends! Make common cause, build communities, organize and resist! And tyrants of all kinds, in every generation, can be and must be made to fall.”


Hotel Lux/Courtesy SJFF
The Weekend Guide
Movies, music, hamentaschen, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted March 06, 2014

Friday

Hawaiian Shabbat
6 p.m. — With Purim in Paradise upon us, get into the island spirit! Student-led services begin at 6, followed by a free, kosher dinner at 7. All are welcome, so bring a friend!
At Hillel, 4745 17th Ave. NE

Saturday

Bagels and Banter
12 p.m. — Drinking jokes? Penis jokes? The original Purim spiel, with the Tribe.
At Eltana on Capitol Hill

Paco Diez
8 p.m.
Paco Diez’s debut concert in the Pacific Northwest features Spanish traditional music, including songs the Sephardic Jews took with them after the expulsion from Spain.
Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum

Sunday

Purim Bake Sale
10 a.m.-2 p.m. — The Ezra Bessaroth Ladies Auxiliary is holding a grand Sephardic bake sale, featuring a variety of Sephardic delicacies, including biscochos, pandericas, boulemas, borekas, yaprakes, travados, and of course that classic Sephardic purim treat, hamentaschen. Refreshments (coffee and pastries) will be provided during the sale. Quantities are limited. To pre-order contact Susan at 206-722-5500.

Ongoing

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival
Closing weekend! Check out “Hotel Lux” and “Hunting Elephants” Saturday night, and the closing show and concert with Dan Nichols Sunday, plus “Before the Revolution,” the story of the once vibrant Jewish Iran Sunday night.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:46
This week’s parsha is Vayikra
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Flickr/natematias
Searching for community
After losing connection to her Jewish community, Joelle searches, and finds, a new one for her new life.
By Joelle Abramowitz · Posted March 05, 2014

Over the course of my formative years, I was a poster child for Jewish involvement. Through college and even after, I stayed very active in Jewish life. But one day, that changed.

I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was that turned me off. Perhaps one piece was that I often felt like the only single person in a room of couples or families. Perhaps another piece was that I felt my service to the community – both in coordinating programming and in leading prayer services and Torah reading – was not appreciated by either the constituents of the community or its leadership. And perhaps yet another piece was that I yearned for a forum where I could learn on a more in-depth level with people my age in an open-minded sort of environment, and I could not find it. 

I spent quite a while in the no-man’s land of Jewish involvement, and I didn’t like it there, but I also didn’t see a way out. For that reason, among others, I was excited to move to a new city where there would be more opportunities to find my place in the Jewish community. 

Since moving, I have found the community that I sought. It is different from any other group I’ve participated in – a non-denominational learning group that meets once per week called DC Beit Midrash. At the Beit Midrash, each week a different religious or lay leader teaches a text-based lesson on some topic ranging from the weekly Torah portion to current issues in Judaism. It is volunteer-run, and the teachers come from all different backgrounds as do the learners. While some of the teachers include clergy and Jewish professionals, the goal is for everyone who attends to also teach. After making my way there one Monday evening unsure of what exactly to expect, I found that I really enjoyed it, and made it a part of my regular schedule each week

Despite my excitement in finding a community I felt a part of, I also had some lingering hang-ups. I knew that one of the expectations of the group was that its members would ultimately lead their own lesson one week, and I racked my brain about what I would teach, but came up with nothing. Besides a lack of topic ideas, my bigger problem was that I did not feel qualified to teach anything. Notwithstanding my background and previous involvement in the community, my estrangement from Jewish leadership left me feeling disenfranchised and lacking in the confidence that my voice would be appreciated or had any value in this community.

After a few months of attending the Beit Midrash as a learner, I had seen myriad people teach with a number of different teaching styles and approaches, and I realized that I was indeed just as qualified as anyone else to teach on my level and in my way. Once the day came when there was an open date for a teacher, I decided that it was my time to try leading a lesson. 

I was a little nervous going in to teach, but coming out, I felt exhilarated. For my lesson, I was actually able to use my background in economics to look at the weekly parsha in a way I never had before. It was empowering to find that I could provide some new insight to a text and share that with others. That I wasn’t just a consumer of knowledge, but a producer as well.  It made me so grateful to be able to have this sort of forum –a place to teach and share and learn together. 

For me, DC Beit Midrash was the key to finding my place in the community and feeling empowered again in Jewish learning and Jewish life. That might not be the community for everyone, but my experience showed me some of the components that are necessary for a community to thrive. In any community, it’s important for people to feel like they have a voice, like their opinions are valued. Further, I would argue, to sustain a community, it is important for people to feel like they have something to contribute and to be able to see how what they have to offer has an impact beyond only themselves. 

Perhaps one day I will outgrow the Beit Midrash and find myself back in Jewish involvement no-man’s land searching to find my new place in the community. But before then, I hope we can embrace Jewish leadership that’s more empowered and empowering. 


Linor Abargil/Courtesy SJFF
Thank you, ‘Brave Miss World’
How the SJFF film about a Miss Israel/Miss World champion helped one woman start talking about her rape.
By Erin Pike · Posted March 03, 2014

For some reason I feel the need to say this first: I am a feminist. I am the feminist other feminists approach about controversial feminist issues. I am the advocate who will audibly react with disapproval to sexist stories told in conversation, on stage, or from a screen. I am the Bechdel Test police. I have fuzzy legs and armpits and only wear bras for special occasions. I am an old-school feminist — some might say a hard-core feminist. I am a feminist and this is my first time writing publicly about my rape.
Last month I was asked to watch and review “Brave Miss World” in preparation for the Seattle Jewish Film Festival. “Brave Miss World” is a documentary about former Miss Israel and Miss World champion Linor Abargil, who was raped and, through incredible strength and bravery, became an international activist and legal professional for victims of sexual violence. Abargil’s consistent message to survivors in the film was that they must talk about their experience in order to heal. The film was so moving and inspirational I asked to write about my personal experience, if there was an opportunity to do so.
So here I am, thanks to Linor Abargil.
I’m going to explain all of my fears, the reasons why the mere task of writing this article was nearly impossible. The largest fear is that people won’t believe me. That I’m mistaken, that what happened, somehow, wasn’t rape. That because I consumed alcohol, it wasn’t rape. That because he was my friend, it wasn’t rape. That because at one point we had dated, it wasn’t rape. That because I was sexually active, perhaps even promiscuous at the time, it wasn’t rape. That because I invited him to my apartment, it wasn’t rape. That because I was extremely emotional and unstable that night, it wasn’t rape. That because I didn’t have any visible bruises or cuts, it wasn’t rape. That because if people don’t even believe Dylan Farrow’s first-hand account of sexual assault, then what the hell are my chances, it probably wasn’t rape.
I’m afraid he will find this article and read it. I’m afraid our mutual friends will send it to him. I’m afraid our mutual friends will find this article and tell me it wasn’t rape. I’m afraid my feminist friends will be angry at me for never pressing charges or seeking legal justice. I’m afraid that by feeling so much shame and self-blame about rape, I am less of a feminist. I’m afraid my parents will find this article and tell me it was my fault. I am sad because at one point my rapist was my friend, and now he’s not, and that gives me horrible anxiety — am I a bad person for no longer being his friend? He was a good person up until that point, is he back to being a good person now? Should I have stayed in touch? Is it my fault he doesn’t understand what he did was wrong?
It was four-and-a-half years ago. He was coming to town for a convention, so I told him he could stay with me. That evening, I had an emotional breakdown, a particularly bad one. When he arrived late that night, he found me collapsed on the floor, visibly upset. And drunk. Initially he comforted me, as a good friend should, and we talked about why I was emotional. Then we ended up in my bed, kissing.
That is all I remember.
The next morning, he had left before I woke up. I noticed right away that I felt incredibly sad, and that my genital area was sore. I went into the living room and saw my roommate.
“Last night was kind of crazy,” I apologized, referring to my emotional breakdown and make-out session. As an after-thought, I asked her to give me a review on the night’s events, for clarity, if nothing else. That is when my life changed. She told me she had heard us having sex.
“You don’t remember?” she asked.
I had absolutely no recollection. My brain immediately flooded with defensive thoughts: I had wanted that, right? Since we were kissing? Even though he was completely sober and I blacked out? It wasn’t rape because I had invited him over, so maybe it was my fault that he assumed I was interested in sex? How could such an outspoken feminist be raped by her friend?
I spent the days immediately following totally lost and in immense pain. I needed so badly to talk to someone, yet I felt such shame and self-blame I was completely incapable of doing so. I confided in one friend, a mutual friend of ours who had dated him in high school. She immediately understood what had happened and sat with me as I called him to confront him about it. During the phone conversation, he confirmed that we “had intercourse,” but denied any responsibility for poor judgment, and insisted that what had happened was “not non-consensual.” He wasn’t a rapist, he thought. And yet the facts were so clear: He had been in a situation of total power and control, a situation in which I had none, and he took advantage of the opportunity (rape).
I didn’t press charges. I thought the details were too confusing and unreliable, and — mostly — I didn’t want to talk about it at all. I was afraid I would never get my sex drive back or feel in control again. I wanted to be left alone to heal.
I myself wasn’t even able to call it rape until recently. In the years since, I had referred to it as “that bad sex thing,” his name on my list of sexual partners, sprawled angrily and scribbled and accented with a question mark (does he “count?”). I’ve been in therapy for almost a year now, and that has helped me come to terms with what happened. Without therapy I would probably still be in denial, and believe it to have been my “fault.”
Like Linor Abargil, I, too, became more religious as a part of my healing process. I began to attend synagogue and embrace Judaism, and I attributed the existence of a strong religious influence in my life with a dire need for existential clarity and hope.
I pen this account specifically for others like me, who may still be questioning whether or not their “bad sex thing” was really rape, who may still be blaming themselves and burying the memory, those whose rapists were friends, family, or even a spouse. Your instinct and intuition that what happened was wrong should not be silenced, and I encourage you to find support from anyone possible so you, too, can come to terms with the truth and move on to healing. If you cannot trust a family member or friend to support you, there are Internet and phone-line resources, both national (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, http://www.rainn.org) and local (Harborview Center for Sexual Assault, http://www.hcsats.org). I did not know about these resources at the time, but I wish that I had.
If you have not experienced rape or sexual assault in your lifetime — even though you cannot understand what it’s like — you are desperately needed as a supporter and confidant to the survivors around you. Be there for others, they will need you.
It is also important to acknowledge that rape and sexual assault happen to people of all genders. As I stated earlier, I am a feminist. My artwork and my life reflects that truth, and my personal interests of dismantling rape culture and attacking gender inequality happen to be a large part of who I am, interests that have only grown since my experience. But I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the fears that male victims face when talking about their experiences, fears largely due to the inequality of socially constructed gender roles. In short, effects of the patriarchy harm everyone, and those effects become especially apparent when navigating the complex issues of sexual assault.
I know this will sound trite, but the conclusion here is that rape sucks. Rape really, really sucks. And knowing that good people are capable of doing harmful things also sucks. It is reasonable to point at someone horrible and say they are horrible. But when someone you care about, someone “good” does something horrible, it’s easier to defend him or her and end the conversation. So this is me, starting the conversation: I have been raped and now I’m talking about it. Thank you, “Brave Miss World.”


SJFF
The Weekend Guide
Film festival! Pita baking, parties, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted February 27, 2014

Friday

Got Shabbat?
7 p.m.
Join the Tribe for a service at 7 with a special schmooze oneg beforehand. This service features all your favorite songs and prayers, and is followed by pizza and beer at Piecora’s, which is just a short walk away.
At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1511 E Pike St.

Generation War, Part One and Part Two
“Generation War” follows five young German friends as they navigate the disturbing moral landscape imposed by Hitler. This acclaimed film captures the realities of war from a deeply personal perspective with exceptional performances by the German cast. Shown in two parts, with separate admission.
At Landmark’s Varsity Theatre, 4329 University Way NE

Saturday

Hummus and Pita Workshop
10 a.m.
Learn how to make pita and dip.  Walk out of this hands-on class with warm bread! Advance registration required through Delridge Community Center. Led by Masha Shtern. $25.
At Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way S

Youngstown Arts Thrive: Annual Birthday Bash
6 p.m.
Celebrate with Youngstown director and MOT David Bestock at the center’s eighth birthday party. From 6 to 7, musician Eli Rosenblatt will be playing music for kids and families in the movement room, where there will be crafts, balloons, food and more music. Have a drink with DJ Manos in the theater next door. Stay (or come back) for the afterhours, 21-plus party at 9 and dance with DJ Leopold Bloom.
At Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival
Opens Saturday at 8 p.m.
This year’s film festival features 30 amazing independent, internationally acclaimed documentary, narrative and short films, including Bethlehem, Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards. The film series “The Good, The Bad, The Funny” features 10 films focusing on Jewish and Israeli heroes (such as Miss Israel Linor Abargil, the human rights crusader of Brave Miss World), gangsters (Hunting Elephants) and black sheep (Amy Winehouse), and comedians (When Comedy Went to School). Opening night for The Zigzag Kid and every night until the Dan Nichols closing all-ages concert on March 9th. Runs through March 9.
At various locations around Seattle and Mercer Island

Sunday

Check out the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, especially the Ladino roundtable with world-renowned scholars Eliezar Papo, Karen Gerson Sarhon, Devin Naar and David Bunis after The Longest Journey.

Ongoing

Woody Allen in the ‘80s
In case you’re not totally disgusted with Woody and you are jonesing for the ‘80s, Grand Illusion is playing his 1980s films through March 5. See “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Purple Rose of Cairo” and more.
At Grand Illusion Cinema, 1403 NE 50th St., Seattle.

Theater
Spamalot
Through March 2
“Every Broadway production needs a Jew” and Spamalot is no exception. Though the actual Camelot is about as Jewish as London broil on Christmas, the wacky Monty Python stage adaptation manages to through in a Jewy number.
At 5th Avenue, 1308 Fifth Ave.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:34
This week’s parsha is Pekude/Shekalim
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Dudi Hasson
Preview: Asaf Avidan in concert
Asaf Avidan is amazing and you should totally go see him next Tuesday.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted February 26, 2014

Asaf Avidan plays Tuesday, March 4 at 8 p.m., doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and can be purchased online at http://www.stgpresents.org/jevents-crawler-sitemap/eventdetail/1172/-/an-evening-with-asaf-avidan or you can attend with Jconnect for $15. Visit the Facebook event page or RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to reserve your seats. At the Crocodile, 2200 2nd Ave., Seattle.

Thirty-two-year-old Israeli singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan has been recording music collaboratively and on his own since 2006. His recent solo release last year, Different Pulses, marks the first original album Avidan has procured and released on his own after breaking away from his band, Asaf Avidan and the Mojos. 

Now touring his new album, Avidan will be stopping along his American and European tour here in Seattle on Tuesday, March 4, 2013, appearing at the Crocodile.

While Avidan has been compared to Leonard Cohen in musical writing style and drawn comparisons vocally to Robert Plant, Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone, he possesses a voice that is utterly singular and inspirational.

Born in Jerusalem in 1980, Avidan’s parents were diplomats for the Israeli Foreign Office, and he spent four years of his childhood in Jamaica. After serving in the Israeli army, Avidan studied animation at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and his final project, a short film called “Find Love Now,” won its category at the Haifa Film Festival that year.

Avidan moved to Tel Aviv after completing his studies and worked as an animator until a life-altering breakup with his long-time girlfriend inspired him to move back to Jerusalem, quit his job and focus full-time on his up-till-then hobby: Music.

What resulted was Avidan’s six-song critically acclaimed debut EP, Now That You’re Leaving, about that breakup and subsequent heartache, which was released independently in 2006.

In late 2006, while playing solo acoustic tour across Israel, Avidan put together a supporting cast of musicians who became Asaf Avidan and the Mojos. From there, the group earned popularity in Israel, playing extensively within the country. The band ventured out on a tour in New York City in 2007, where they played at MEANY Fest and advanced to the finals. From 2008 to 2010, the band has released three albums: The Reckoning in 2008, Poor Boy/Lucky Man in 2009 and Through the Gale in 2010.

Different Pulses is Avidan’s first studio album since the break-up of his band in July 2011, featuring the single Different Pulses, which was released in 2012 as a music video directed by Vania Heymann.

If you go:

 


Courtesy SJFF
SJFF preview: The Zigzag Kid
By Michael Fox · Posted February 25, 2014

If you go:
“The Zigzag Kid” opens the Seattle Jewish Film Festival on March 1 at AMC Pacific Place 11. Visit http://www.seattlejewishfilmfestival.org for tickets and information.

 

An unabashed crowd-pleaser in a Day-Glo package, “The Zigzag Kid” transports young-at-heart viewers on a magic carpet of charming hijinks and manic energy.
Belgian director Vincent Bal has transposed vaunted Israeli novelist David Grossman’s beloved 1994 coming-of-age adventure fantasy from the Promised Land to a candy-cane Europe. The result is a confection of a film that dispenses laughs and life lessons en route to a poignant moral about the blood ties that bind.
A family film whose most ardent admirers will be children, “The Zigzag Kid” is fueled by primal adolescent urges. Not the ones you’re thinking of, but the pressing need to comprehend the past, navigate the present, and manipulate the future.
The opening credits immediately set the tone in smile-inducing style, employing split-screens, a full-spectrum palette, and a pop score to evoke the spy movies (and parodies) of the 1960s and ’70s.
As his 13th birthday approaches, cute-as-a-bug Nono is starting to figure out he can’t abide the rules and conventions that most people passively accept. He’s not a rebel — he admires his detective father to the extent that he mimics Dad’s deductive skills and wants to follow in his gumshoes — so much as a creative thinker and fearless experimenter.
The title comes from Nono’s iconoclasm, as well as the gold pin in the shape of a Z that the world’s greatest thief, Felix Glick, leaves behind as his signature.
But I’m getting ahead of the story. After one of Nono’s bright ideas accidentally sends a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah reception up in smoke, our erstwhile hero is dispatched to boring Uncle Shmuel as punishment. But Dad’s plan is derailed within moments of Nono boarding the train, launching the lad on a mission that takes him to the south of France and back.
“The Zigzag Kid” is tons of fun as it sets its inspired plot in motion, while Nono is a splendid protagonist who never devolves from endearing to tiresome. It helps that he’s aware he’s not completely self-sufficient, for that dollop of humility tempers his precociousness.
In fact, Nono relishes the maternal attention and affection of his father’s (ahem) live-in secretary, Gaby. The boy never knew his mother, who died when he was an infant, and he’d be very happy if the current domestic arrangement continued ad infinitum.
Suffice it to say that Nono crosses paths with the 60-something Felix Glick, who quickly presents himself as an alternate role model with his blend of resourcefulness and suaveness.
At a certain point, especially for those adults who have sussed out the relationships between the characters before Nono does, the pieces start to click into place, dissipating the film’s aura of cleverness. Everyone likes a happy ending, sure — although be advised a tragedy is revealed en route — but “The Zigzag Kid” trumpets an allegiance to the primacy of the two-parent family that is downright Spielbergian.

 


Dikla Tuchman
Taking (first) chances
Ari Kohn busts open the last kernel of myth that politicians might actually care about solving crime, and that our prison-bound citizens are beyond rehabilitation.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted February 24, 2014

Ari Kohn doesn’t just believe in second chances. He believes in first chances.

Kohn, president of the Post-Prison Education Program, was invited by the Hillel at University of Washington invited Ari Kohn, to speak on the topic of education behind bars last Wednesday evening.

Kohn gave a frank presentation to students and Jconnecters about the program he runs here in Seattle, giving what he calls “a first chance to those who have never before been given a chance.” He criticized the Federal Second Chance Act, passed in 2007, which focuses on amending the federal criminal code to allow an individual to file a petition for expunging a record of conviction for certain nonviolent criminal offenses. Kohn feels the title of this act alone is misleading, as if we are somehow implying that these ex-convicts have ever received a first chance.

“If you take people that have never had a chance and give them that chance, it’ll pay off,” said Kohn, pointing out that most of these prisoners end up in prison due to severe mental health issues, abuse and addiction, which are incredibly difficult to function with in law-abiding society. Especially if that person is poor.

“If you don’t have wealth in your family, and you have mental illness, there’s almost no way you can avoid prison,” said Kohn. “It’s really impossible to be a law-abiding citizen.”

Around the same time that the Second Chance Act was being debated on the House and Senate floor in D.C., Kohn and his colleagues were getting fed up with the lack of action being taken by Olympian politicians in offering prisoners any educational opportunities upon their re-entry into the “real world.”

“At that time, we were really naïve,” recalled Kohn. “We thought it would just be a matter of writing checks.” Quickly, Kohn began learning about mental illness and addiction and the challenges they imposed on convicts, making it difficult to just hand them money in hopes that they would go to school, get a degree, and successfully reintegrate themselves into society.

Kohn told several harrowing tales of men and women beating the odds, overcoming desperately difficult situations that test every level of human endurance. Women who, for all intents and purposes, should never have been reunited with their children in most peoples’ eyes, but have healthy relationships with partners and their kids now. “You take the most insane, crazy situation in the world and give people a chance, they’ll almost always do what you hope they will,” said Kohn.

And the statistics don’t lie. Nearly every ex-prisoner who goes into the Post-Prison Education Program succeeds, many of them achieving above and beyond what anyone would have expected. “Providing hope and opportunity” is the tagline of Kohn’s Seattle non-profit: Opportunity not being funded or even really recognized by the state government. In fact, the state legislature has gone so far as to even pass several pieces of legislation making it even more difficult for ex-cons to reintegrate and succeed when they return from prison. 

One such law, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6157, requires “an offender released to community supervision to be returned to the county of origin,” regardless of where they might be able to best find work, education, or where their family, friends or other support system are located.

But what Kohn has learned from his experience working with the department of corrections and the politics of prison here in Washington is “that there are people in the department of corrections that break the law and ignore people breaking the law.” Kohn cited a case that took place in 2010 in Thurston County, Jane Doe vs. Clarke, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections. The case dealt with staff sexual misconduct against women supervised by the Department of Corrections.

“It never dawned on me that people would turn their back to protect their seat,” said Kohn. “People in Olympia are so scared to be soft on crime. They literally will not risk being thrown out of office for anything. They will turn their back on issues where people are dying just to keep their position.”

As the government continues to barely support post-prison education in written law, let alone provide funding, it has become more and more crucial for Kohn’s program to raise money and awareness in the community.


If you want to learn more about the work Post-Prison Education Program does here in Washington, go to http://www.postprisonedu.org and read about the success stories, donate your money, donate your time, and share these incredible opportunities Kohn and his colleagues are proving for our community.

Alice C. Gray
Jew-ish: The weekend guide
Art, falafel, a lot of Spam, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted February 20, 2014

Friday

Refresh Shabbat
7 p.m.
Shabbat dinner with Grow and Behold sustainable kosher meat. Chef Leah will prepare fresh dishes from cookbooks “Jerusalem” and “Plenty” by authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Everyone who RSVPs will get a drink when they come in. Drinks and shmoozing until 7:30, services, then dinner. Vegetarian options available. $12, $6 for grad students, or pay what you can afford.
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave NE.

Saturday

Nothing’s going on today.

Sunday

Exploring Homelessness
11:30 a.m.
An in-depth discussion about the root causes of homelessness, hunger, poverty, unemployment, and other social issues. Exploring specific social issues as well as thinking about broader topics like intersectionality, privilege, and the relationship between Judaism and social justice. Danica Bornstein will join and talk about how to have difficult conversations with your family, friends, or broader community. RSVP to Talia: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave. NE.

Images of Siberia
2 p.m.
For three years Alice C. Gray has been painting a series of images from the Russian Far East, where she traveled with Jconnect and the JDC the summer of 2011. Her incredible series is now finished, and hanging at the UW Hillel. Join her for an opening reception.
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave. NE.
A Conversation About I-594
3 p.m.
A lively and respectful presentation and discussion about initiative-594, and why it should or should not be supported. This initiative would extend background checks to all gun sales and transfers. Reception following presentation.
At Temple B’nai Torah, 15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue.

Pita, Hummus and Falafel Workshop
3 p.m.
Learn how to make pita, dip, and falafel. Walk out of this hands-on class with a tasty dinner. Advance registration required through Rainier Beach Pool and Community Center. Led by Masha Shtern. $25.
At Rainier Beach Community Center, 8825 Rainier Ave. S.

Ongoing

Woody Allen in the ‘80s
In case you’re not totally disgusted with Woody and you are jonesing for the ‘80s, Grand Illusion is playing his 1980s films through March 5. See “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Purple Rose of Cairo” and more.
At Grand Illusion Cinema, 1403 NE 50th St., Seattle.

Theater
Spamalot
Through March 2
“Every Broadway production needs a Jew” and Spamalot is no exception. Though the actual Camelot is about as Jewish as London broil on Christmas, the wacky Monty Python stage adaptation manages to through in a Jewy number.
At 5th Avenue, 1308 Fifth Ave.

Iris Malka Brumer
Now through February 26
Iris Malka Brumer was trained in Jerusalem, Israel, in jewelry making and art history. Her current work includes ink on wood images and authentic sketches reflected in ink, water colors, and acrylic paints. Her work embodies myriad life experiences, in particular the profound journey that she has, for better or for worse, had the honor to embark on.
At Essence Salon, 1415 NE 80th St., Seattle.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:24
This week’s parsha is Vayakhel
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Creative Commons/monettenriquez
“Speed friending” is a slow process
Newly transplanted in DC, Seattleite Joelle gives speed dating a shot - to find some girlfriends.
By Joelle Abramowitz · Posted February 19, 2014

I was nervous. More nervous than I’d been for any date I’d had in the recent past. I just wasn’t sure about this. I thought about flaking out, but I gave myself a pep talk and decided to stick with it. I headed in a little hesitant and made my way to grab a glass of wine to come off a bit smoother. 

I was not headed to a date with a new guy. On the contrary, I was heading to what would be the equivalent of 15 or so “friend dates” with 20- and 30-something aged Jewish women. The event was called “Friend Request,” but I think it would be best described as “speed friending.” In the days leading up to the event, when I’d told some male friends about it, they seemed completely skeptical, but were also intrigued to hear how it would go. 

I happened upon speed friending in the course of going to community events like it was my second job after I had moved from Seattle to DC. Let me just say that moving to a new city is hard. For me, I left a community where I had a lot of friends with a variety of interests and backgrounds. I also graduated from graduate school to start a nine-to-five job. Between those two changes, I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands and not so many people with whom to spend it. As a result, I began voluntarily subjecting myself to various social events. To be clear, I’m not saying that social events can’t be fun, just that they also have at least their fair share of uncomfortable moments. And this would be my latest. 

In addition to attending the event to look for new friends in general and to have something on my calendar, I was particularly interested in speed friending because I really missed the close female friendships I had developed in Seattle. Despite my excitement, I was also incredibly scared. What if I came into this room full of my peers and no one thought I was friend material? That would be a whole new level of rejection. But I was desperate enough for social interaction and potential female bonding that I mustered the courage to go anyway.

The idea for the evening was basically that you’d be paired up with another attendee, given a conversation starter, and you’d have three minutes to assess this person’s prospects as a potential new BFF and likewise market yourself before moving on to the next eligible potential friend. Ice breaker questions included, “What was the best gift you ever received?” and “Black and white cookies, mandelbread, or babka?” After proceeding this way with about half the women in the room, some time was left for mingling — to follow up with ladies you liked or meet those you hadn’t yet met — with areas designated for different interests, like food and exercise. For sustenance through the mingling, there was wine and tea and cookies and pie.

Despite my initial hesitation about the event, by the end of the evening, I’d completely come around. It felt so nice to chat socially with other women my own age. I had conversations about boots and food and hiking, about economics and accessories. While I came in afraid of rejection, I left realizing that we had all come looking for the same thing and it was just a matter of finding a good fit. So maybe it was more like dating than I’d initially thought.

I did end up getting together with several women from that evening. More than that, I came across several of the women at different Jewish events I attended subsequently, and it was nice to have someone to sit with or even just say hello to. When I told some of my guy friends about the event, I heard from several that they wished there was something like that for them too, though they were clear that speed friending as we’d done it probably wouldn’t work for men.

After all of the awkward socials events I’ve attended in recent months, I can say that I think we need more events like this. Events just focusing on getting singles coupled up are missing out on the bigger picture about building a community on many dimensions. Plus, the model of large and loud happy hours just doesn’t work for everyone. When I go to those events alone I usually just feel more alone, and when I go with friends, we all usually just stay in our own clique. Nobody really wants to seem like they are looking for anything. But going to this sort of event reveals how much people are really looking to connect with each other, and it’s refreshing to see people being open to that. 

While I have great things to say about the event, as good as it was, I don’t know that I’ve found my next best friend forever from my night of speed friending. Like dating, finding friends is a matching process, and the older we get, the more we know ourselves and what we’re looking for, and the standards for investing in a new friendship get higher. So I’ll keep going to events, looking to connect with new people and to find my place in my new community. And, as with dating, I’ll try to remember that since a person must be pretty spectacular to merit a place in my life, it could take a while, and a lot of uncomfortable moments, to find them.


The Weekend Guide
The search for meaning, Woody Allen in the '80s, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted February 14, 2014

Friday

Shabbaton with Malka Adatto Popper
Malka, one of the West Coast’s two (count ‘em, two) female Talmud teachers leads a Shabbaton on the issue of agunah, or “chained wives,” women denied Jewish divorces. She’ll talk at 7:30 Friday night, around 11:15 Saturday morning (after Shabbat services), and Saturday afternoon at Seudah shlishit. For detail see the website.
At Minyan Ohr Chadash, 52nd between Brighton and Holly, Seattle

Saturday

The Search for Meaning Book Festival

Inspiration
All day — 40-plus authors, an annual festival, and a nationwide network surrounding the human search for meaning.
At Seattle University

Sunday

Encounter Point
Film
6 p.m. — Encounter Point moves beyond sensational and dogmatic images of the conflict and focuses on the grassroots movement of nonviolence and reconciliation that is often ignored by the mainstream media. Open, respectful sharing and discussion following the film moderated by Cathy Merchant, a former Compassionate Listening Project trip leader. Cathy has spent considerable time in Israel/Palestine and is currently writing a book about the conflict from both perspectives.
Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Avenue, Seattle

Ongoing

Woody Allen in the ‘80s
In case you’re not totally disgusted with Woody and you are jonesing for the ‘80s, Grand Illusion is playing his 1980s films through March 5. See “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Purple Rose of Cairo” and more.
At Grand Illusion Cinema, 1403 NE 50th St., Seattle

Iris Malka Brumer
Art
Now through February 26
Iris Malka Brumer was trained in Jerusalem, Israel, in jewelry making and art history. Her current work includes ink on wood images and authentic sketches reflected in ink, water colors, and acrylic paints. Her work embodies myriad life experiences, in particular the profound journey that she has, for better or for worse, had the honor to embark on.
At Essence Salon, 1415 NE 80th St., Seattle.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:14
This week’s parsha is Ki Tisa
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Malka Adatto Popper/Photo by Steven Wiens
She’s coming undone
Malka Adatto Popper wants to start a conversation in Seattle about the very real problem of "chained women."
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted February 13, 2014

Malka Popper is not your typical Talmud teacher. As one of two female Talmud teachers on the West Coast, this is a fairly obvious statement.
You may have seen the profile of Popper printed in the JTNews and here on Jew-ish.com back in October, when she was chosen as one of 2013’s 10 Under 40. Harkening back to some of the advocacy she did in New York when she was working with the non-profit group Organization for the Revolution of Agunot (ORA), this weekend Popper intends to open up the conversation with the Seattle Jewish community about agunah through learning sessions during a shabbaton she will lead at Minyan Ohr Chadash in Seward Park.
Agunah translates from Hebrew as “chained wife” (plural: agunot). According to Jewish law, or Halacha, this refers to a woman who is unable to leave her marriage.
“The background, on a Biblical level, is that two people get married and both parties need to consent to get married. Divorce on a Biblical level is up to the man,” explains Popper. “He can give her a get [divorce] without her consent or without her knowledge, she has no involvement.” Without a get, a woman is not free to remarry.
“The classic situation is when we don’t know where the husband is, therefore she’s stuck in the marriage because he’s unable to give her the get, not because he doesn’t want to give her the get,” says Popper.
The most common example of this classic agunah is when a man has gone off to war and does not return.
“She’s chained to the marriage not because of some abusive situation but because of a practical situation,” she says. After September 11, for instance, “There were women who could not find their husbands, and were agunot temporarily,” she says.
But the traditional or classic example of agunah is not what we usually talk about.
When we talk about modern-day agunah, we are talking about a woman who is stuck in the marriage for less practical reasons. Not because her husband is MIA, but because she’s in a relationship she wants to get out of and her husband is refusing to grant her a divorce.
“He’s willing to put her in an emotionally abusive reality in order to extort her for a get,” explains Popper. “Sometimes it’s extorting her for money, sometimes it’s for some other extortion. The get is used as a player in a regular civil divorce proceeding. It may not enter the courtroom, but it affects the divorce process. The get has now become an active participant in the divorce proceedings.”
The goal of agunah awareness and institutions affiliated with the plight of agunot is to advocate for some of the rabbinic structures that have been put in place to prevent the possibility of agunah.
One of the best examples we can point to today is the Halachic prenuptial agreement. The prenup contains two provisions:

1. Each spouse agrees to appear before a panel of Jewish law judges (dayanim) arranged by the Beth Din (house of judgment) of America, if the other spouse demands it, and to abide by the decision of the Beth Din with respect to the get.

2. If the couple separates, the Jewish law obligation of the husband to support his wife is formalized, so that he is obligated to pay $150 per day (indexed to inflation), from the date he receives notice from her of her intention to collect that sum, until the date a Jewish divorce is obtained. This support obligation ends if the wife fails to appear at the Beth Din of America or to abide by a decision of the Beth Din of America.

“What’s most important is acknowledging that refusing a get is emotional, psychological abuse,” says Popper. “It’s up to us — up to the community — to own up to the reality of this abuse.”
Popper’s advocacy for agunah awareness began while she was a graduate student in New York, when a friend found herself in the position of agunah. 
“I was coming home on the subway after a rally in Brooklyn and I just suddenly realized that this was something that I wanted to get involved with,” recalls Popper. “It just shouldn’t happen to anybody.”
Following that epiphany, she began working with ORA. “They are the most organized organization in America that is actively fighting agunah,” says Popper.
At this weekend’s Shabbaton, Popper will lead several learning sessions focusing on different aspects of the issue.
“This is a problem not just relevant to the specific woman who is going through it; it affects the entire Jewish community, and we should be affecting change,” she says. “This lecture is a stepping stone to having the conversation. Let’s have the conversation; let’s talk about it. That’s really my goal.”

 


Reclaiming February 14th, or, yes this is another article about Valentine’s Day
Stop hatin on the holiday of love.
By Erin Pike · Posted February 12, 2014

Dear Reader,

Shortly after New Years, I figured out that I would finally be eligible to celebrate Valentine’s Day. That is, I figured out that the odds of my boyfriend and me still being together were pretty good. He hadn’t begun showing signs of any addictions, nor had he revealed the existence of a wife and two children. Those two qualities pretty much made all signs point to YEAH GIRL GIT IT YOU’RE TOTALLY GOING TO BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE VALENTINE’S DAY.

I’ve never had a significant other during Valentine’s Day. Not even in elementary school when kids got playground-married, like, every day. I was weird and didn’t talk to anyone so no one wanted to be my kindergarten spouse. Most people would probably call that a blessing, but I always hated that I never had a chance to give someone something special on February 14th.

So once January came and went with BF, I started getting really excited about planning Valentine’s Day. Attend an arts event? Wear sexy shit? Eat food? Get things given to me by my boyfriend? Dinner at a restaurant? Movie? How does one celebrate Valentine’s Day?

That’s when I realized that VDay had officially become so unpopular with my age demographic and peer group that I had no one to turn to for advice on how to do the holiday. Yes, I was well-versed in all the spiels: The Anti-Corporate/Capitalism, the It’s Seriously Not Even a Real Holiday, the You Should Love People Every Day Not Just One Day, the Galentine’s Day Alternative, etc. I knew all of the arguments against and none of the ones in favor.

So, I decided to pen this very basic letter for all of the other newbies like myself, who are also figuring this out for the first time, who maybe, secretly, have always wanted to go all-out for VDay but need to know it’s okay, or who are just genuinely curious as to why Valentine’s Day may not totally suck.

First, the spiel responses:
Anti-Corporate/Capitalism: Do you own an iPhone? (Do you own anything?) Conversation over.
It’s Seriously Not Even a Real Holiday: Yes it is. Look at your calendar.
You Should Love People Every Day Not Just One Day: Duh. You should also not Act Like a Huge Dick One Day a Year Because You’re Sad and Single.
Galentine’s Day Alternative: Actually, Galentine’s Day is an awesome idea and I totally support Galentine’s Day as an acceptable alternative to Valentine’s Day.

Second, what I’ve learned so far:
• If you call two weeks out, the earliest reservation you’ll get at any restaurant is 9 p.m.
• If you cancel the reservation you may be charged.
• Restaurants nice enough to have special Valentine’s Day menus will probably be more expensive than usual and will require you to stick to the menu.
• You have an excuse to dress up which is definitely 90 percent of the appeal of going out (or staying in, depending on your wardrobe).

Third, suggestions on activities:
• Avoid all restaurant madness and make dinner yourself. (This is what I’ve decided on).
• Go to synagogue! It’s Shabbat!
• Call your mom. Moms go nuts for Valentine’s Day.
• Call my Grandma. Her name is Rosella and she has a twin named Viola and they were both born on February 14th. They will be 92 years old. Valentine’s twinsies! Email me for her phone number: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
• Get Chinese food and go to a movie. This seems to work for other holidays when you aren’t sure what to do.
• Eat chocolate. Actually, you should do this every day. But don’t rebelliously not do it because it’s the 14th of February, OK? Just, keep doing it.
• Engage in a DOUBLE MITZVAH! Safely.
• Love your significant other(s) like you usually do, but maybe in nicer clothes and while eating better food than usual.
• Just: indulge. In something. Safely. Treat yourself! And your other(s).

I hope this helps you figure out how to spend less energy fighting February 14th, and more energy enjoying it.

Shabbat Shalom, sweethearts!

xo,
Erin


Menemesha Films
Heroes, hooligans and comedians: This year’s SJFF preview
This year's Seattle Jewish Film Festival takes place March 1-9 and it's going to kick even more ass than usual.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted February 11, 2014

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival runs from March 1–9. Contact http://www.seattlejewishfilmfestival.org for tickets and venue information.

When you think about the characters of Jewish arts and culture, they pretty much come down to heroes, hooligans, and comedians.
This, at least, is the idea behind this year’s Seattle Jewish Film Festival theme: The good, the bad, and the funny.
“In a way, we can look at the good, the bad, the funny, and all the ‘yetzer hara’ of Jewish life,” said festival director Pamela Lavitt. “We’re not looking at the dour or the morose or the sad.”
This year’s festival opens Saturday night, March 1, with a Dutch adaptation of Israeli novelist David Grossman’s “The Zigzag Kid,” a charming coming-of-age tale of about a Bar Mitzvah boy’s hijinks on a quest to solve a family mystery and prove himself. Over the course of the festival, audiences will be introduced to the illustrious products of the “comedy boot camp” of the Catskills — from Mel Brooks to Jerry Stiller — in “When Comedy Went to School,” the Jewish music aficionados who aided the anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner’s career (“Wagner’s Jews”), Israeli and Palestinian stereotypes in the hit Israeli TV show “Arab Labor,” and a French couple scheming to help Soviet refuseniks pierce the iron curtain (“Friends from France”).
That’s just scratching the surface.
Struck by the “preponderance of Jewish comedians” and yet leaning toward a Jewish gangster theme, Lavitt explained the theme’s development, which she credits to a phenomenal team of volunteers.
“You can actually build a theme around an idea,” she said. “For many years we’ve been working backwards” — by creating themes around the available films.
As in years past, several screenings will be accompanied by discussions and events. Opening night will feature a dessert reception by Tom Douglas, and the annual Matzoh Momma Brunch returns with a rousing klezmer dance party preceding “When Comedy Went to School” on Sunday, March 2. Later that afternoon, a panel discussion with four of the world’s preeminent Sephardic scholars will follow “The Longest Journey: The Last Days of the Jews of Rhodes,” along with a traditional echar lashon (coffee clatch).

“Hands down, without a doubt, nobody should miss the opening night film, and I mean nobody,” raved Lavitt about “Zigzag Kid.” “It has the good, the bad, and the funny. It has levity, it has humor, it has star power.”
Of notable mention in the category of “good” is “Brave Miss World,” recommends Lavitt, about Miss Israel 1998, who was raped at knifepoint and is now a global social justice activist.
Lavitt is also excited about the closing night film and event, the documentary “Road to Eden” following musician Dan Nichols on a Sukkot tour through the Deep South. Director Doug Passon and producer Jordan Passon will be in attendance, as will Nichols himself — for a concert after the film.
“People who haven’t heard him will be blown away,” said Lavitt.
Lavitt is as excited for the festival as she is for a new festival venue: The brand new Stroum Jewish Community Center theater.
“You’re in a real theater experience now,” she said. “This year’s festival is about that. Were showing off that we have this incredible new theater. We can celebrate and create opportunities to bring people together through the arts, through cinema, all year round.”
Lavitt has plans to expand the festival from a head-exploding, 10-day experience, into a yearlong venture with combined food, film, and social events.
“In Yiddish it’s ‘forshpeis,’” said Lavitt. “It’s a small taste. It’s an appetizer. The festival has packed so much into 10 days.”

 


peteseeger.net
Singing goodbye to Pete Seeger
Where have all the social-justice folk singers gone?
By Deborah Gardner · Posted February 10, 2014

When I was six years old in the 1980s, I brought my father’s copy of the Weavers’ Song Book to my New York first grade classroom for show-and-tell. I was only semi-conscious that my classmates did not share my ranking of Pete Seeger –– who sang folk songs and social justice songs, including with the Weavers in the 1940s-60s –– on par with Cyndi Lauper in coolness. I sat with the book in my lap on the yellow cubbies and sang “Wasn’t That A Time,” a particularly bloody anti-war song. It did not do wonders for my popularity.
Pete Seeger was already in his 60s by the time I was in first grade, but he seemed vaguely immortal until January 27 of this year, when he passed away at age 94. My gut response, after crying a little, was to plan a Shabbat dinner memorial sing-along. After all, Pete Seeger’s music helped teach me the value of singing with others, even when his voice weakened. And he influenced my sense of what it means to be Jewish, even though he was not.
I grew up in a Jewish family that was neither religious nor terribly singing-inclined. But when I sang along to the Weavers records my father played at home, I learned to sing songs about justice, as well as Jewish and Israeli melodies. From Pete Seeger and the others I learned “Hineh Ma Tov” and “Shalom Chaverim.” Over the years Seeger performed various Jewish, Israeli, and Yiddish melodies.
Harvey Niebulski, a Seattle doctor and musician active in the local folk music and klezmer music communities, recalls visiting a bookstore in Port Townsend where he stumbled upon a copy of the Weavers’ Song Book.
“When I looked through the index,” he said, “I smiled when noticing that quite a handful of these tunes were popular Israeli and Jewish melodies such as ‘Shalom Chaverim’ (Glad Tidings), and ‘Tzena, Tzena’ as well as a Hanukkah tune, ‘Mi Y’malel.’”
He reflected, “In the 1950s –– when this book was compiled –– Israel was a young nation and the inclusion of these still-popular folk tunes underscored the hopeful aspirations that Pete Seeger, the Weavers and so many of us had for our fledgling democratic oasis which had just recently arisen out of the still fresh ashes of the Jewish European experience.”
Later on, Seeger’s thinking on Israel expanded; he strived to see both the Israeli and the Palestinian perspective.
But these were not the only songs that resonated with Jewish communities; his songs and activism about equality and environmental issues also matched certain values of Jewish culture.
Born six months after the end of World War I to a musicologist and a violinist, Pete Seeger spent much of his life adapting and writing songs to engage with the most momentous struggles of his near-century, including anti-war movements, the Civil Rights movement, and the environmental movement. He founded an organization called Hudson River Sloop Clearwater with his wife, Toshi Seeger; the organization has been instrumental in prompting the clean up of New York’s Hudson River. He advocated for the environment, for peace, for dialogue, and for racial and economic justice. In other words, he embodied tikkun olam.
At the height of the McCarthy era, he was subpoenaed to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee about whether he had ever performed in front of groups the committee identified as Communist. Throughout his testimony, he consistently reiterated that while he was happy to discuss his songs, he felt it was improper for the committee to ask him to disclose where and to whom he sang. He emphasized only that he had sung for nearly every group: “I have sung for pacifists and I have sung for soldiers.” He said, “I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation of life.” He risked, and was charged with, contempt of Congress. This was integrity, and it was chutzpah.
By the time I was in high school, his voice was already growing weaker. He would sing quietly into the microphone, encouraging the audience to sing along louder, making up for what he could not achieve in volume with his fading voice. In ensuing years, even as I built my love for singing justice-oriented songs with friends, I began to think about whether his model of singing as a means for social change was also fading in relevance in a culture becoming less earnest and more comfortable with cynicism and irony. Have the times, to paraphrase later folk singer Bob Dylan, a-changed too much?
Whether or not group singing still resonates, Seeger spread an idea that is flexible enough to adapt with time, and which resonates with some of Jewish history: That music can strengthen a push for social justice. New Orleans-based music writer Alison Fensterstock, who grew up in New York strongly influenced by Seeger’s music and sing-alongs, took this message to heart.
“The first thing that struck me is that being exposed to Pete and a sort of Seeger-run community so young,” she said, “I think I always expected music to be an agent of social change, a community builder and a through-line to connect people through history. I just grew up assuming music was that potent a force, and something to absolutely trust and put faith in.” Perhaps not too coincidentally, she was also the only classmate who took me seriously when I sang in our first grade classroom.
In the last six days of Pete Seeger’s life, his family and close friends gathered around his bedside and sang. In the days that followed his death, communities all across the country came together and sang, as we did that Shabbat evening four days after he was gone. While we took turns pulling up lyrics in books and on smartphones, I looked up Seeger’s testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee. He only mentioned one song by name. It was “Wasn’t That a Time.” He was proud to sing it, and offered to sing it to the committee. They declined.


The Weekend Guide
Trivia, performances, booze, and, of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted February 06, 2014

Friday

Nothing’s going on today but Shabbat. Challah!
Oh, we hear there’s some gay-bashing Russian Olympics that you can boycott, so there’s that.
Challah!

Saturday

A Stage is Born
8 p.m. — Meet the J’s newly remodeled stage and theater and enjoy performances by Chad Kimball, Tony-nominated actor in “Memphis,” cellist Julian Schwarz, a preview performance of “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” by Book-It Repertory Theatre, swing dancers, tango dancers, all emceed by Rachel Belle of KIRO radio. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time. $36.
At the Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

The Q
Trivia
8 p.m. — From history to pop culture — everyone is an expert at something! Join this annual fast-paced, multimedia trivia night along with fabulous food and an open bar with a top-shelf selection. Proceeds enable NCSY to run programs for over 1,000 Jewish teens in greater Seattle year round.
At Ezra Bessaroth, 5217 S Brandon St. $36. Register online and book a table with your friends for a discount.

Sunday

Relax and Uncork
4 p.m. — Mystery wine tasting, delicious appetizers, schmoozing, and games, including wine trivia! Please bring a bottle of wine from a U.S. winery to share for the wine tasting (up to $20). At the home of Rabbis Meyer. For info contact Melanie at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Teen Feed
5 p.m. — Teen Feed is a program that provides meals to homeless youth and connects them with case workers to offer additional support services. If you’d like to help with this project, please RSVP and come “serve.” Cooking and serving shift starts at 5 p.m., cleaning and serving crew can arrive around 6:45 p.m.
At Roots Young Adult Shelter in the alley between 15th and University Way and 42nd and 43rd St.

Ongoing

Iris Malka Brumer
Art
Now through February 26
Iris Malka Brumer was trained in Jerusalem, Israel, in jewelry making and art history. Her current work includes ink on wood images and authentic sketches reflected in ink, water colors, and acrylic paints. Her work embodies myriad life experiences, in particular the profound journey that she has, for better or for worse, had the honor to embark on.
At Essence Salon, 1415 NE 80th St., Seattle.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:03
This week’s parsha is Tetzaveh
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Brighton Building, 52nd Ave. S between Brighton and Holly.


Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Courtesy Nissim
Kickstarting black-Jewish relations
A local Sephardic rabbi and hip-hop artist take their powerful song to Kickstarter.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted February 05, 2014

While most Seattle hip-hop fans have jumped on the Macklemore bandwagon, another local rapper has been creating music that’s just as powerful. Nissim, an African-American, Orthodox Jewish hip-hop artist is joining his familial roots with the roots of his adopted religion. Joined by Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, Nissim produced a song called “Sores” that tells the story of the African American experience of slavery in contrast to the Jewish horror of the Holocaust.
Nissim recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund $18,000 so he can create a music video for “Sores.” Since he wrote the song, he has envisioned a video that fully captures its story.
“It’s been a plan of ours since we made the song,” says Nissim. “It’s a lot of money and work to be able to pull it off. The video has to be at least as good or better than the song.”
“What Nissim and I are singing about is a message,” says Benzaquen. “There are not two people that have more in common than the African American and the Jew.”
Benzaquen met Nissim years ago when Nissim showed up at Sephardic Bikur Holim, where Benzaquen was rabbi at the time, in search of connection with Judaism. Nissim had decided to put his music career on hold to concentrate on conversion and to become more acquainted with his new community.
“I wanted to step away from my music for a while,” says Nissim. “I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do or not. I wanted to study and learn.”
After hearing the rabbi sing in synagogue, Benzaquen recalls Nissim saying, “You have to come sing on my next album.”
By 2012, Nissim was ready to return to music.
“I did a lot of praying and soul searching,” he says. “The answer became so clear. I was getting a lot of calls and encouragement to return to music. Spiritually, everything was pointing toward going back to music.”
While Nissim had a legitimate concern for losing his religiosity by going back, as music can be a “tough industry,” he felt confident in his ability to incorporate his newfound religious spirituality into his art.
Nissim’s wife planted the spark of the idea behind “Sores” back in 2009.
“It wasn’t the right time,” he recalls. “I had to sit with the idea.”

Once he was ready to move forward, Nissim contacted composer Eli Cohen, who he felt was truly able to communicate the message of the song.
“I needed something to be powerful,” says Nissim. “I felt especially with Rabbi Benzaquen, he was going to be able to capture the emotion of the song, and he was not camera shy. I love his voice. He really gets into it.”
The song has moved far beyond the Jewish community. After recording the track, the two performed “Sores” at Sasquatch in 2013, as well as at the Capitol Hill Block Party and the Crocodile Café. This winter, Nissim and Benzaquen were invited to perform in Israel at Beit Shemesh.
With the popularity of the song and its powerful message, Nissim decided to invest in making a short film to fully capture the meaning of the story “Sores” tells.
“The screenplay written by Zach Grashin transforms the words and music of ‘Sores’ into a short film that captures the emotions, struggle, pain, and finally hope, of both historical periods,” according to the Kickstarter, which launched in late January.
Nissim needs to meet his goal of $18,000 to complete the project, but hopes to raise as much as $50,000 to capture both time periods.
Benzaquen feels strongly that “Sores” sends a message that isn’t often communicated through rap music, which he feels has lost its original intent.
“Nissim brings rap music back to its roots,” says Benzaquen. “Much of today’s rap music is very negative. What Nissim sings is positive.”
The two believe they now have a mission.
“It’s very important to bring back the friendship and camaraderie between the Jew and the African American,” says Benzaquen.

 


To contribute to Nissim and Rabbi Benzaquen’s Kickstarter, visit http://kck.st/1jcNyZ3

Flickr/Wally Gobetz
Adventures in cauliflower
Trying new things is scary. Especially when they involve cauliflower.
By Joelle Abramowitz · Posted February 03, 2014

Sometimes it can be scary to try new things. Are we willing to invest in something for which the outcome is uncertain? And how will we feel if we later regret the choice?

These questions came up for me recently in an incident involving a cauliflower. You see, we’d had a long history, cauliflower and me. While it was never one of my favorite vegetables, I have always enjoyed it, and so would seek recipes to elevate it from an okay vegetable accompaniment to an entrée worth eating for its own sake. To that end, I’d experimented with cauliflower soup (pretty delicious), cauliflower cheese pie (tasty, but the proportions were off, at least in my experience), and somewhere along the way, a cauliflower gratin (alright, but a bit on the bland side). But for all of these endeavors, the recipes produced a massive amount of food, meaning, if you’re like me and cooking for one, a massive amount of leftovers. By the time I had finished with them, either from my refrigerator or freezer, no matter how decent the recipe was to begin with, I was pretty much over it for at least a while, if not for good.

My best solution to this cauliflower solo dining dilemma was to focus on the vegetable and add as few other ingredients as possible. Then, I could still buy a nice fresh head and enjoy it to its fullest without getting burnt out by the leftovers. To this end, I tried a new cauliflower preparation: Caramelized cauliflower. It was simple and easy and wonderful. And it made me see cauliflower in a whole new way. So it went that it became my go-to cauliflower recipe that I would make again and again. I never expected to find some other recipe that would top the caramelized cauliflower. And to be honest, I don’t really know that I wanted to. We had a good thing going on.

But of course, when I least expected it, such a recipe did walk right into my life, or at least, into my inbox. Not only was the recipe itself intriguing, but it came from a source that was new to me, Food52’s Genius Recipes, the idea being that the recipes featured on the site are generally ridiculously tasty, ridiculously easy, or both. The recipe that blew my mind that particular day was Alon Shaya’s whole roasted cauliflower and whipped goat cheese. I’d heard about the cauliflower steak trend (just Google it and you’ll see what I mean if you don’t already know), and wasn’t surprised, since it seemed more or less the same idea as my tried-and-true caramelized cauliflower only with the word “steak” in the title which, admittedly, is more catchy. 

In as much as I was excited about this new recipe, I will concede that I was also hesitant. I liked my caramelized cauliflower. Was this recipe really so much better than what I already had?  Was it worth the extra effort, time, and money? I was not sure.

Ultimately, I decided to go for it and bought my bottle of wine and other ingredients and blocked off my schedule. I figured if it didn’t work out, I could write it off as a learning experience. Or, apparently, at the least, just write about it.

From the outset, I found the project to be quite an endeavor. To start, I was home from work and hungry, and the extra time spent waiting to eat was uncomfortable if not slightly torturous. Moreover, I found that trying to manhandle a large head of cauliflower in a pot of boiling broth is not a trivial exercise. Neither is trying to whip goat cheese with an immersion blender. 

Nonetheless, after ultimately succeeding at these tasks as well as getting my cauliflower in and out of the oven, I did eventually find myself at my dining room table ready to taste my creation of braised and caramelized cauliflower slathered in whipped goat cheese. Ready as ever, I went in for the first bite. And in short, I was blown away. The flavors were delicious, and each element complemented the other perfectly – the caramelized broth-infused cauliflower and the light, but rich goat cheese. I did eat it for days (I still couldn’t restrain myself from choosing the most massive head of cauliflower at the farmers market), but I really didn’t mind. And if you happened to run into me anytime that week, you were probably going to hear about my recent exciting cauliflower experience.

So in the end, I found all the trouble to be worth it. But to be fair, trying new things doesn’t always work out so well.  In fact, it probably usually doesn’t. I can even tell you that my next Genius Recipes experience with kale kicked up a notch left me only disappointed. So the choice is yours.  As for me, if occasional kale disappointment is the price I have to pay for stumbling upon some mind-blowing cauliflower, then I think it’s worth taking the risk. 


Courtesy Eshel
Orthodox and out of the closet
It's hard to come out. Harder when you're religious. Even harder, maybe, for your parents.
By Maayan Jaffe/JNS.org · Posted January 28, 2014

“Orthodox parents of gay children tend to feel isolated,” says Mindy Dickler, the mother of 21-year-old Elie, who came out as gay three years ago.

Dickler, from Baltimore, is on the planning committee for the second annual Eshel Retreat For Orthodox Parents of LGBT Children. She says the conference, which will be held at the Capital Retreat Center in Waynesboro, Penn., gives parents a chance to feel that they are part of the Orthodox Jewish community again, and gives them hope. The conference will be held from March 7-9.

According to Eshel founder Miryam Kabakov, the first conference, held last April, came after several parents of LGBT youths approached her after various speaking engagements to talk about their plight. She said many expressed loneliness or an inability to discuss what it meant to have an LGBT child with their friends or rabbis.

“As soon as an [Orthodox] child reveals the secret, the parent takes on the secret and goes into hiding. And the parent has to go through his own process,” explains Kabakov.

This “hiding” is largely a result of the way that Orthodox Jews see the world and the words of the Torah.

“Orthodox, or specifically halachically [Jewish law] observant, Jews begin their discussions with what does God want from me, and how do I understand the texts and teachings of my faith to indicate what God expects and wants from me,” says Dr. Saundra Sterling Epstein, who has a gay daughter. “Our decisions are within the context of that discussion, so different from the non-Orthodox world in which this does not come to the table.”

The basis of the prohibition against homosexual acts in Judaism derives from two biblical verses in Leviticus: “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence” (Leviticus 18:22), and “If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death—their bloodguilt is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). The Torah considers a homosexual act between two men to be an abhorrent thing (to’evah), punishable by death—a strong prohibition. As a result, Orthodox parents of LGBT children are often struck with a complicated combination of loving their child and wanting to accept him or her for who he is and feelings of shame/fear of community isolation. Having an LGBT child was generally not something the parents ever considered.

“In the back of my mind, I always assumed my three kids would grow up, marry someone of the opposite sex and have children. In the instant that Elie told us he was gay, I realized that dream did exist in my mind and it could no longer be that way,” says Dickler. “I needed to replace it with a new dream.”
At the time Elie came out, says Dickler, she was “in shock” and “did not know what the future would hold.” Today, she says she has replaced the dream and she hopes her son will find his mate—another man—and the two of them will marry, maybe even have children.

“I will have three son-in-laws,” she says with a smile. (Dickler has two daughters.)

But while Dickler has been able to recreate her ideal, this is not so easy for her community or area rabbis—in Baltimore or in many other Jewish communities across the country. The R family from the northeastern U.S., who asked that their name be withheld in this article, says they left their synagogue after the rabbi spoke openly at the pulpit against the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to open its doors to gay scouts. Their son came out of the closet two years ago.

Jean Prager of Bergen County, NJ, says that when she told her rabbi about her lesbian daughter, “he was very matter-of-fact” about it. He did tell the Pragers they should accept her, but chose not to discuss the halachic aspects of it. Since then, according to Ken Prager, their rabbi is trying to learn more about the subject. He was even one of the 200 Orthodox rabbis to sign the Statement of Principles regarding homosexuality, which allows that homosexuality is genetically and/or hormonally determined and admits that reparative therapy may be bogus and even harmful. The Pragers’ rabbi also let them give an informal talk about the challenges of being the parents of a gay child and the unique issues they faced as members of the Orthodox community.
Mr. R said he knows of families who have, like his, left their shuls, but also of families who have had to move.

“Some rabbis say, ‘I cannot deal with it,’ or, in extreme cases, ‘You cannot join our congregation,’” he says.

But to be fair, these rabbis are in a very difficult spot. Rabbi Steve Greenberg, who is the first and only Orthodox rabbi to come out as gay, said he understands where his colleagues are coming from. He said the moment an Orthodox rabbi says anything more liberal or accepting, it threatens his credentials.

“Let’s say a rabbi believed that while he cannot change the law, the fact that some people may be built this way [LGBT], then they can’t be held accountable and can be considered people under duress. So it would not change the law, but it would not penalize anyone for being gay and allow people to be in committed relationships. … Rabbis that suggest such things are at best questioned and are at worst kicked out and deprived of their Orthodox identities,” explains Greenberg.

The result is Orthodox LGBT couples turning away from the fold, and often their parents become less observant or less connected. The Epsteins, for example, say their daughter no longer sees herself associated with anything Orthodox.

“This makes me somewhat sad, but I am upset with the community itself that judges and pushes away,” says Epstein. “No one is able to be a perfect Biblically-mandated Jew. It is an ideal for which we all strive. … I think that Torah and God are far more understanding and loving than the people who sometimes claim to act on their behalf.”
For now, Kabakov said Eshel will continue to shed light on the topic through rabbinic and community outreach, and to offer a platform for these parents to come together for support. This includes monthly conference calls and the upcoming conference.

“It is getting better,” says Rabbi Greenberg. “Rabbis are more interested in truly being compassionate. … The rabbis are struggling with how to successfully be compassionate. The numbers of people who are coming out, who are affected, are growing, which is shifting the social milieu.”

Dickler says, “It is time to bring these issues out of the closet. … It is OK to talk about it.”


Maayan Jaffe is a freelance writer based in Overland Park, Kan.

The Weekend Guide
All the usual debauchery. And, of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted January 23, 2014

Music

Sasson
Saturday @ 7 p.m.
Awesomely fun Klezmer-style band (featuring one of our 10 under 40s Keith Judelman) Sasson performs a family-friendly set Saturday night. Wine bar in the back for adults, chaperones for the kids, and Ping-Pong for everyone.
At Ohr Chadash, 51st Ave. S between Holly and Brighton (Seward Park).

Theater

Jerry Springer: The Opera
Opens Friday
Jerry Springer, the man who brought dysfunctional family therapy to the masses — saint or sinner? A British opera (yes, opera) presented by STG and Balagan Theatre asks that very question. When Springer is accidentally killed on set, he ends up hosting a panel in Hell, until God comes to the rescue. Toe-tapping numbers include “Bigger than Oprah Winfrey” and “Jerry Eleison.” Mature audiences only. Runs through January 26. $35.
At the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle. For tickets and information visit http://www.stgpresents.org Read our review here!

Art

Iris Malka Brumer
Now through February 26
Iris Malka Brumer was trained in Jerusalem, Israel, in jewelry making and art history. Her current work includes ink on wood images and authentic sketches reflected in ink, water colors, and acrylic paints. Her work embodies myriad life experiences, in particular the profound journey that she has, for better or for worse, had the honor to embark on.
At Essence Salon, 1415 NE 80th St., Seattle.

Eats

Challah Baking Class
Sunday @ 3 p.m.
This community center class is taught by a local Jewish chef and challah enthusiast. Learn the entire process: mixing, kneading, rising, baking and several dough braiding techniques (three, four and six-stands). You will also make a dip (such as hummus) and take your own loaf home, fresh out of the oven! Please note that the community center kitchens are not kosher. However, the recipe is parve and you will have the option of baking your challah at home. Pita baking classes are also available!
At Rainier Beach Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S.

Social

Connections 2014
Sunday @ 11 a.m.
The Federation’s big annual women’s gathering, this year honoring our 10-under-40 jewelry superstar Whitney Stern, along with fabulistas Esther Friend, Patty Fleischmann, and Adisa Ayaso Tassma.
At the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle.

Books

Naomi Schaefer Riley
Sunday @ 7 p.m.
An evening with noted author and journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley on her book “‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America” and the impact of of interfaith marriage in America today. She will also include highlights from the recent Pew Study. Light dessert reception to follow. Books will be available for purchase. Read our interview with the author here!
At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1441 16th Ave.

Shabbatica

Fourth Friday Shabbat
Friday @ 7 p.m.
Celebrate Shabbat with a Reform service with other young adults, led by Rabbi Aaron Meyer. Then head to dinner and drinks at Piecora’s.
At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1511 E Pike St.

Sephardic Shabbat
Saturday @ 9:30 a.m.
Seattle is home to one of the largest and most vibrant communities of Sephardic Jews in North America. Come to an egalitarian Sephardic service and learn Sephardic-style prayer and melodies, followed by a delicious Kiddush lunch.
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave. NE.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 4:21 p.m. Friday, January 10
This week’s parsha is Beshalach
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

Ashreichem Yisrael

S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Offensively boring
Some drama just isn't meant for the stage. The sad case of "Jerry Springer: The Opera."
By Erin Pike · Posted January 21, 2014

Don’t. But if you do: Jerry Spring: The Opera will run through Jan. 26 at the Moore Theatre. For more info visit balagantheatre.org/jerry.

Jerry Springer was a great ‘90s talk-show prophet. He gave us a taste of real characters to come: outrageous personalities that would later replace the ‘norm’ as reality television quickly swelled to its present-day popularity. Springer showed America the future Honey Boo Boos and Real Housewives before anyone had been given the opportunity to watch such appalling behavior so easily. For the average viewer, it was a pain/pleasure combination, the “watching-a-trainwreck-and-feeling-pretty-good-about-not-being-on-that-train” situation.
Decades later, the debates about our culture’s intake of sensationalized reality TV continue: Is it human nature to enjoy watching others suffer? Are we all equally to blame for the condition of humanity regardless of whether or not we’re the ones stumbling in front of the camera? “Jerry Springer: The Opera” feebly repeats these age-old questions.
Watching uncouth humans operatically singing swear words does have a certain humor to it. Sadly, writers Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas didn’t seem to understand that that particular joke alone cannot carry a two-hour-long performance. The first half consists of recreations of Jerry Springer Show moments, including a woman who secretly wants to be a pole dancer (“whore, bitch!” the chorus sings) and a man who is sexually aroused by wearing a diaper and pooping in it. Maybe I listen to too much Dan Savage, but such gags seemed neither offensive nor particularly clever.
The second half leads us to a strange morality plot, where — SPOILER ALERT — Springer ends up in hell and is trying to talk his way out of it. As a final attempt for salvation, he hosts one last show, this time featuring a few Biblical guests. It’s predictable and dull — like if you Googled “ways to overtly offend conservative religious people in a bad comedy sketch” and then made an opera.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s lots of swearing? Yawn.
The particular night I attended, the performances by the seemingly talented cast and ensemble were a bit tired and confused, as if they, too, understood that the script was really bad, but contractually had to go along with it anyhow.
Who would enjoy this show? Super-drunk people, probably. Or maybe your politically moderate, socially liberal relatives from the Midwest who have been snowed in for two weeks and will do anything to get out of the house and see other human beings in the flesh.
Granted, “Jerry Springer: The Opera” was first-produced in 2003, so maybe I should go easy — 11 years is a long time in comedy. Perhaps Balagan Theatre was attempting to appeal to ‘90s-nostalgic millennials with this throwback production. Jerry Springer is, after all, an extremely interesting person with enough autobiographical potential for at least a play. Unfortunately, this millennial journalist was not interested, amused, or even offended by this depiction — just bored.

 


Geoconklin2001
The Weekend Guide
MLK Day activism, Jerry Springer chair-throwing, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted January 16, 2014

Theater

Jerry Springer: The Opera
All weekend
Jerry Springer, the man who brought dysfunctional family therapy to the masses — saint or sinner? A British opera (yes, opera) presented by STG and Balagan Theatre asks that very question. When Springer is accidentally killed on set, Satan and God fight for him to host a hellish show, or judge humanity. Toe-tapping numbers include “Bigger than Oprah Winfrey” and “Jerry Eleison.” Mature audiences only. Runs through January 26. $35.
At the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle. For tickets and information visit http://www.stgpresents.org.

Art

Iris Malka Brumer
Now through February 26
Iris Malka Brumer was trained in Jerusalem, Israel, in jewelry making and art history. Her current work includes ink on wood images and authentic sketches reflected in ink, water colors, and acrylic paints. Her work embodies myriad life experiences, in particular the profound journey that she has, for better or for worse, had the honor to embark on.
At Essence Salon, 1415 NE 80th St., Seattle.

Activism

A Workshop Exploring the Root Causes of Poverty
Sunday @ 12 p.m.
Have you been to Teen Feed and are interested in exploring some of the root causes of poverty? Or have you asked yourself these same questions while walking through downtown or Capitol Hill? Join for an in depth discussion about the root causes of homelessness, hunger, poverty, unemployment, and other social issues. Contact: Talia Stein, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave NE, Seattle

MLK Day Breakfast, Rally and March
Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
Start with breakfast and learning led by Rabbi Oren Hayon, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, Rabbi Lauren Kurland, and Rabbi Jason Levine at 523 26th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122 (private residence), then head over together to the MLK Day festivities at Garfield High. At 11, participate in the rally honoring Dr. King followed by a march downtown. For more info contact Talia at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 4:21 p.m. Friday, January 10
This week’s parsha is Yitro
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

Ashreichem Yisrael (formerly The Kehilla)
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Cover: A Map of the Names and Places in the Saga of American Folk Songs
In ways normal to his place
How Llewyn Davis can help Jews remember what matters.
By Andy Bachman · Posted January 16, 2014

“Folk song calls the native back to his roots and prepares him emotionally to dance, worship, work, fight, or make love in ways normal to his place.”  Alan Lomax, Folk Songs of North America

Over sushi in Brooklyn the other night, I was asked to justify why we made the kids see Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen brothers’ spectacular new movie. The answers flowed easily. One: The creators of the film are geniuses and as far as art is concerned, kids, go with the geniuses. They always have something to say. Two:  the movie is a snapshot of an historical moment in your hometown, New York.  It’s important to know these things.  An appreciation for the context of your life is important.  And three (which took a bit more time to explain):  There was once this guy named Alan Lomax, whose father John Lomax was the grandfather of the folk archival project for the Library of Congress and the WPA, who was a friend of your late great-aunt and who gave her a copy of his book which we have at home, one of a number of essential cataloging efforts that believe it or not changed the face of music history.  There are Harry Smith’s recordings to talk about too, but the kids usually still complain when those go on.

The third, surprisingly, took no heavy lifting.  For good measure we reviewed other facts about this rebel aunt:  She stepped over her mother blocking the doorway to prevent her from going to college (UW-Madison in the 1930s, take a bow, please) and worked in DP camps for the JDC after the Holocaust before returning to a practice in New York.

So you see, folk song does call “the native back to his roots.”

Jews are about roots, of course.  How could we not be?  Meaning: Who are we without them?  And yet the often derided roots (and the ignorance thereof) gives me great anxiety in our age.  I suppose it helps explain why it is that for me, in a world of increasingly surface encounters, where the immediacy of experience and digitally rendered, character-limited responses (the idiot wind of discourse) which are prized over long-held beliefs and practices, I fear for the future.

We’re all so cosmopolitan, I know, I know.  The grand melding that is taking place in our Digital Age has allowed for a greater confluence of cultural mixtures that pushes the boundaries of creativity to new heights, it’s true.  Bieber has Hebrew tattoos and One Direction apparently “love” Jews.  On balance, these are wins for our side.  But not so much in a world where the tides are turning and leaving their marks on the shores of Jewish history: Too much distinction is a bad thing.  Even Dave Van Ronk thought so:  “We banded together for mutual support because we didn’t make as much noise as the other groups, and we hated them all — the Zionists, the summer camp kids, and the bluegrassers — every last, dead one of them.  Of course, we hated a lot of people in those days.”

It was powerful to watch Llewyn Davis sing into the hurricane of popularizing forces that he knew he could never join; and it was downright energizing to hear a young Bob Dylan ascend at precisely the moment Llewyn Davis was getting his ass kicked by a prideful, defensive Southern man in a Greenwich Village back alley.  History was being made, time moving forward, one soul crushed, another breaking through, cultural rebels commercial successes converging, diverging, and forging new paths on life’s journey.

It’s an old trope in America, this tension between roots authenticity and commercial success.  And it applies to work in the Jewish community as well.  Who we are.  What we stand for.  What we demand of ourselves and those in our community.

From literacy to ethically mandated behavior; from rite and ritual to the music and poetry of prayer; from what we eat to who we are and what we call home: Each are a manifestational limb emerging from the roots of Jewish history.

In a way, I was motivated to write this insignificant little blog as an homage to always remembering what matters.  There’s a desperate scene in Llewyn Davis where the singer is stranded in a Chicago diner, his feet soaked and frozen, clinging to his bottomless cup of coffee, his only hope.  I had days like that as a young man — feet frozen as a student in Madison, Jerusalem, or New York.  Unsure of the future but dogged and determined to remain true.

I bet many of you can remember days like that.  When you didn’t quite know how things would turn out but you knew you were a principled participant in a story larger, more expansive, and greater than yourself.  Maybe a bud or blossom, at most a branch, on the many limbed project of your rooted existence.

Who knows?  Maybe one’s life is like that branch, which for one brief moment, buoys the squirrel passing by, lifts his foot in a fleeting moment as an acorn falls, and after time, a new tree grows.  Takes root.

We all do our part, don’t we?

So here’s to those with frozen feet and dreams to walk on dry land here or there, or, perhaps, on the Bonny Shoals of Herring.

I mean: What Jew doesn’t love herring?


Reprinted with permission from Andy Bachman, http://www.andybachman.com

Courtesy Michael Natkin
Big resolutions, small plates
You'll never look at Swiss chard the same way.
By Michael Natkin · Posted January 14, 2014

Meze is the Mediterranean tradition of a meal made of several small plates. To make a nice meze, you can make a couple of items from scratch and fill out the spread with warm pita bread, quick marinated feta, good olives, store-bought hummus or prepared tahina, and raw vegetables.
Today’s dish of room-temperature chard flavored with garlic and dukkah (which I’ll explain in a moment) would be a great addition to your meze. It demonstrates a basic method for cooking greens so that they retain a bit of texture and color but are tender and enjoyable. You could use different greens (mustard greens, spinach, even dandelion greens if you enjoy their bitter punch) or different spices, and you could certainly add a squeeze of lemon if you’d like a splash of acidity.
Now about dukkah. It is a spice mixture (often containing nuts) that originated in Egypt. Check your brand if you need nut-free or gluten-free. You can find it at World Spice Merchants, just behind the Pike Place Market on Western Ave., or at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have access to it at a local spice store, simply make an equal-parts mixture of ground sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin and thyme, and season it to taste with black pepper and sea salt.

Swiss Chard with Garlic and Yogurt
Vegetarian and gluten-free; vegan if you omit the yogurt or use a soy yogurt
1 small bunch of Swiss chard
1 clove minced garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil
Dukkah
Maldon salt or other flaky sea salt
1/2 cup thick Greek-style yogurt
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
Thoroughly wash the chard in at least 2 changes of water; more if you suspect any grit remains. Pull the leaves off of the stems. Discard the toughest part of the stems and chop the remaining stems into 1″ lengths.
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Put the leaves and stems in a loosely covered, microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until the leaves are well wilted and tender but not turning gray. Immediately transfer the chard to the ice water and toss to cool quickly (this will preserve the color). Drain the chard and squeeze it dry in a clean dishtowel.
Put the chard in a bowl and toss with the garlic, a good glug of extra-virgin olive oil, at least a couple of teaspoons of dukkah, and salt to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning — you may want more garlic, oil, dukkah or salt to get the flavors really popping.
When you are ready to serve, mound the chard on a plate, and sprinkle with a few more flakes of salt. Spoon the yogurt next to the chard and sprinkle it with the toasted sesame seeds.
Serves about 2 as a side dish (depending on size of your bunch of chard), easily multiplied.


Local food writer and chef Michael Natkin’s cookbook “Herbivoracious, A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes,” was a finalist in 2013 for a James Beard award. The recipes are based on his food blog, herbivoracious.com.

Brigitte Lacombe
A very brief interview with Gary Shteyngart
The tragic-hilarious writer comes to Seattle Monday. Get your flannel ready. He wants to hug you.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted January 10, 2014

Gary Shteyngart reads from his memoir Monday night, January 13, at 7:30 at Town Hall, 8th and Seneca. For more info visit http://www.townhallseattle.org

Gary Shteyngart, author of acclaimed novels “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” “Absurdistan,” and “Super Sad True Love Story” comes to Seattle on his crazy long book tour to talk about his latest, “Little Failure: A Memoir.” He took about 30 seconds to talk to Jew-ish. And we love him for it.

Jew-ish: Your memoir is tellingly called “Little Failure,” and you recount so many painful life experiences. But these “failings” have led to great success. Was it worth it? Or would you have preferred a simpler, happier life?

Gary Shteyngart: I’ve always said that if someone gave me the choice to be a genius like Dostoyevsky with all the attendant insanity and gambling problems and a happy urban planner in a mid-sized Canadian city I would always choose the urban planner. Life is too short to suffer that long, no matter what the consequences for art.

Jewish: What’s your advice for every miserable child stuck in Hebrew school?

GS: Make a best nerd friend like I did and stick close to him through Chumash and prayers. Afterwards you could do funny impressions of teachers and religious figures. Eventually you could become a big macher in Hollywood.

Jew-ish: How do you like being an exalted figure in the Jewish literature landscape?

GS: It’s nice. My audiences are so sweet. I just want to hug all of them sometimes. Especially in the Pacific Northwest because flannel feels so good against the skin.

Jew-ish: On that note, how frequently do people try to set you up with their daughters?

GS: Now that I’ve got a big fat wedding ring, a little less so. Hey, if I were single, I’d date everyone’s nice Jewish daughter.

Jew-ish: Give us a sneak peek at the Super Sad Love Story TV pilot. We’re pretty psyched about that.

GS: Oh yeah! Well, it’s still in development, as they say. Expect lots of steamy love.


Jonathan Kos-Read
The Weekend Guide
Showshoeing, casinos, Jerry Springer, and of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted January 09, 2014

Books

Gary Shteyngart
Monday @ 7:30 p.m.
Acclaimed author of “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” “Absurdistan,” and “Super Sad True Love Story” Gary Shteyngart comes to Seattle to share his latest work, “Little Failure: A Memoir.” Born in Soviet-era Leningrad, Shteyngart encountered a cultural clash when he arrived with his parents to New York. “Little Failure” captures his struggles and self-discovery, not without his characteristic humor. Presented by Elliott Bay Book Company.
At Town Hall Seattle, Eighth and Seneca. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $30; book purchase includes two tickets. For more information visit townhallseattle.org.

Theater

Jerry Springer: The Opera
Opens Friday
Jerry Springer, the man who brought dysfunctional family therapy to the masses — saint or sinner? A British opera (yes, opera) presented by STG and Balagan Theatre asks that very question. When Springer is accidentally killed on set, Satan and God fight for him to host a hellish show, or judge humanity. Toe-tapping numbers include “Bigger than Oprah Winfrey” and “Jerry Eleison.” Mature audiences only. Runs through January 26. $35.
At the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle. For tickets and information visit http://www.stgpresents.org.

Art

Iris Malka Brumer
Now through February 26
Iris Malka Brumer was trained in Jerusalem, Israel, in jewelry making and art history. Her current work includes ink on wood images and authentic sketches reflected in ink, water colors, and acrylic paints. Her work embodies myriad life experiences, in particular the profound journey that she has, for better or for worse, had the honor to embark on.
At Essence Salon, 1415 NE 80th St., Seattle.

Spiritual

Interfaith conference
Join young adults (20s-30s) from diverse faiths to build interfaith community, share traditions, and create interfaith action for a better world. Keynote will be Susannah Heschel.
At St. Mark’s, 1245 10th Ave. E.

Social

Tribe Casino Trip
Sunday @ 1 p.m.
Join members of the Tribe for a fun and social afternoon at Snoqualmie Casino. Meet there at 2, or catch a ride from the Mercer Island Park & Ride at 1.
At Snoqualmie Casino, 37500 SE North Bend Way. Contact: Lee Meyers.

Snowshoe with Jconnect
Sunday @ 8 a.m.
Join Jconnect for a snowshoeing adventure over in Wenatchee Crest. This is a great opportunity for newbies to try out snowshoeing and for pros to explore more advanced trails if desired. Please email Elise (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) if you would like to carpool or if you will be driving on your own. They have a limited about of snowshoes for you to rent at $18. Click the “get tickets” link to reserve a pair. Jconnect will provide some snacks and warm beverages for the journey.
Waterproof hiking boots are best along with a pair of snowpants if you have them. Layering is always a good idea and don’t forget to bring some water. Bring poles if you have a pair.
Meet at Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle. Return around 6 p.m.

Teen Feed
Sunday @ 5 p.m.
Teen Feed is a program that provides meals to homeless youth and connects them with case workers to offer additional support services. Each second Sunday of the month, volunteers like you make and serve the meal at Hillel UW. If you’d like to help with this project, please RSVP and come “serve” with us. :) Cooking and serving shift starts a 5, cleaning and serving crew can arrive around 6:45.

Shabbatica

Old Country Shabbat
Friday @ 7 p.m.
Enjoy second-Friday Shabbat with Matzo ball soup, knishes, lemon chicken, kasha varnishkes, and more. Drinks and schmoozing at 7, followed by services at 7:30. Everyone who RSVPs will get a drink when they arrive. Dinner is $12, $6 for graduate students, or pay what you can afford.
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave NE, Seattle.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 4:21 p.m. Friday, January 10
This week’s parsha is Beshalach
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.
Check out this weekend’s shabbaton with Latin American studies professor Ilan Stavans!

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE
Check out this weekend’s shabbaton with Melila Hellner-Eshed, PhD.

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Dikla Tuchman
Latke love
There's a latke food truck parked in South Lake Union. Go there now.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted January 08, 2014

Paying homage to a classic childhood comfort food with a recipe passed down from his grandmother Sylvia, Seattle chef Jonny “Chef Perm” Silverberg has done the unthinkable: Launched a latke press sandwich truck here in Seattle.
Silverberg grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., attended University of Oregon and then later graduated from Le Cordon Bleu at Scottsdale Culinary Institute. When he first arrived in Seattle in 2007, he got a job as a sous chef at a catering company in Redmond, connected with the restaurant Pomegranate Bistro on the Eastside. After moving back to Arizona, then back to Seattle, Silverberg returned to Pomegranate Bistro as the chef de cuisine. 
Silverberg knew when he rejoined Pomegranate that his goal would to start his own business. Being his own boss has always been his ambition, he said, but getting his own restaurant was becoming way too daunting a task.
“The fact that the food truck world has kind of taken off in this city and the laws have changed [have] made it a lot easier,” says Silverberg, in addition to “the fact that I have this one product that is truly unique, and nobody else is doing and it allows me to be really focused.”
One day, Silverberg was cooking and reminiscing about his grandmother’s latkes when the idea came to him. “I’ve always loved sandwiches – they’re sort of a guilty pleasure,” says Silverberg. “And it just sort of happened.”
Silverberg tested out his sandwiches a few times in the restaurant to see what the response would be. “People kind of lost their minds, and I immediately took it off the menu!” laughed Silverberg.
Monday saw the grand opening of Napkin Friends: The Latke Press Sandwich food truck at South Lake Union’s Banya 5 parking lot. That will be the truck’s Monday afternoon spot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the foreseeable future, with more spots to be added as Silverberg searches out the truck circuit.
Last month, Silverberg launched a Kickstarter for Napkin Friends to help recoup costs for the truck and equipment for the mobile restaurant.
“The idea is to have people retroactively help me out. I have the truck and all the things I need with the exception of a couple of pieces of equipment I have,” says Silverberg. “But the idea of the Kickstarter is to get people who know me and want to be part of it to be able to be part of it and also to get the message out.”
By supporting Napkin Friends’ Kickstarter, you get rewards like your name on the truck, Grandma Sylvia’s secret latke recipe, spice rubs, and other swag. So the investment is still very much there.

the OG

Silverberg’s signature latke sandwich is called the OG, which includes house pastrami that he makes from scratch, along with mama’s lil’s peppers, arugula, 1000 island, horseradish cream and gruyere. “It’s almost like a Ruben and it’s super, super yummy,” boasts Silverberg. But don’t take his word for it, take mine. The sandwich is out of this world.
While some of the other sandwiches will rotate on the menu, the OG and the Classic Combo, a vegetarian sweet-and-savory sandwich with apple and brie, will remain staples for the truck. Matzo ball soup and Extra Britt’s pickles will also stay on the menu as a signature items.
“Anything that you think could be amazing with potatoes, is amazing in a latke sandwich,” says Silverberg. He couldn’t be more right.


To support Napkin Friends, visit the Kickstarter at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/289944072/get-seattles-first-latke-press-sandwich-truck-road

UW Hillel
How big, exactly, is that tent?
The Open Hillel movement would allow for harsh critics of Israel to share their views at the Jewish student organizations. Would UW be one of them?
By Joel Magalnick · Posted January 06, 2014

In early December, news came out that the Hillel Jewish student group at Swarthmore College, a small school outside of Philadelphia, had voted to break from Hillel International’s guidelines on Israel and embrace a model supported by a student group called Open Hillel. The collective of Jewish activists “[encourages] local campus Hillels to adopt policies that are more open and inclusive than Hillel International’s guidelines, and that allow for free discourse on all subjects within the Hillel community,” according to the Open Hillel website.
Swarthmore’s Hillel is the only one thus far to move in that direction. Almost immediately, Eric Fingerhut, president of Hillel International, made his organization’s position unequivocally clear: “Hillel will not partner with, house or host organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice: Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders; delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel; exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior towards campus events or guest speakers or foster an atmosphere of incivility,” according to an open letter posted on Hillel’s website.
Given that Hillel chapters do, for the most part, operate autonomously, questions about what it means for Hillels on campuses across the country have emerged, including in Seattle. The answer, according to Oren Hayon, executive director of Hillel at the University of Washington, is not much.
“Swarthmore Hillel is not a bellwether for the rest of the Hillel world; this does not indicate that Hillel as a movement is out of touch with students or local campuses when it comes to its Israel policy,” Hayon told JTNews via email from Los Angeles, where he was attending a conference of the Western Hillel Organizations.
Fingerhut spoke at the conference, and Hayon said he “left the discussion feeling completely assured that Eric and his office are truly committed to a pluralistic approach to student engagement with Israel and that he deeply respects the autonomy of individual Hillels and their leadership when it comes to creating our own individual approaches to Israel programming.”
Hayon said his staff is committed to supporting Israel, but also to differences of opinion, and the international guidelines allow for that.
“The guidelines don’t specify any groups in particular at all (Eric Fingerhut made an emphatic point about this the other day) in order to let individual local Hillels determine whether groups (Palestinian student clubs, Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, etc.) in their community are considered ‘in’ or ‘out,’” Hayon wrote. “We are an incredibly diverse community, and we constantly strive to remain accessible to all young Jews, regardless of their background, their level of religious observance, or their political perspective.”
He added that “it’s very important to me personally that I and my organization will be able to inspire students and Jconnectors [the young adult program] to deepen their connection to Israel as the Jewish homeland, but individuals will never be turned away from Hillel because they don’t share my feelings about Israel.”
That said, Hillel UW has every intention of upholding the Israel guidelines.
“I don’t think that Hillel UW would benefit from cosponsoring programming with organizations who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state,” he wrote. “Our openness to an honest appraisal of modern Israel does not mean that Hillel UW will open its doors to the organizations that spread lies or demonize Israel.”
Another vote this month has fewer direct ramifications for Hillel as an organization, but can be reflected on campuses at large. On Sunday, the American Studies Association voted, by a two-thirds majority, on an academic boycott of Israel. The association, which according to its website is “devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” applies to institutions and not individual Israeli academics. But the announcement sends a larger message that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel is gaining legitimacy.
Unlike other campuses in Washington State, most notably The Evergreen State College, the BDS movement has not made significant inroads at the UW, Hayon said. But given precedent at colleges like Evergreen, he worries about the effects of BDS, which make Jewish students feel threatened and alienated.
“Successful BDS campaigns on campus often go hand-in-hand with the weakening of local Hillels, the dissolution of civil discourse on campus, and the growth of feelings of fear and alienation in Jewish students,” he wrote. “My job is to ensure that every Jewish student feels safe on UW’s campus, and that no one is made to feel intimidated or afraid because of their religious identity or ideological convictions.”
Mikael Kvart, Hillel UW’s board president, acknowledged that the education on Israel the Hillel staff has been engaging in has come at the expense of other work the organization should be doing.
“Although BDS activities on campus in some ways are an opportunity for educating our constituents about Israel and what is really going on, it is also to some extent a distraction from Hillel UW’s core mission of being a catalyst towards a meaningful Jewish life for young Jews,” he told JTNews.
Hayon said Hillel UW has spent “an enormous amount of time this year working to keep our students and young adults educated about the issues,” but in a way that he said can help them have an informed dialogue while staying true to their own values.
At the end of the day, Hayon believes Jewish students should feel free to organize in any way they wish, and it’s not the role of Hillel to change itself based upon the desires of a specific campus while giving rights to its name and resources.
“If an individual McDonald’s franchisee unilaterally decides to stop selling hamburgers, or to paint the golden arches blue,” he said, “it won’t be very long before he has to change the sign outside his restaurant.”


Dear Adira: How do avoid being a humbug?
Adira is back and this time, she has advice for us about how to cope with the age old question: How do I respond to Christmas cheer?
By Erin Pike · Posted December 19, 2013

Dear Adira,

I work in retail and have to endure “Christmas hell” from early November until the end of the year. While I have somehow found a way to ignore the constant Christmas music and overwhelming amount of decorations, I can’t seem to find an appropriate way to respond to folks wishing me a “Merry Christmas.” It bothers me because I feel like if I don’t say anything, I’m ignoring my Jewish identity as well as supporting the idea that Christmas is the “only” holiday this season. Any suggestions?

—Jewish Scrooge Downtown

Dear Jewish Scrooge,

I understand this frustration completely, as I too work downtown in customer service. Especially when on the clock, saying something completely rude to a customer, regardless of content, is unacceptable (though tempting when you’ve endured a thousand Christmas wishes and remained silent).
So for you, me, and whoever else needs a solution to this problem, I’ve come up with a few friendly options. Best of luck!

When you encounter “Merry Christmas!” “Happy Christmas!” or “Have a good Christmas!”

• Wear a giant Star of David t-shirt for the entire month of December. Point to it and give a thumbs-up.
• Carry a basket of latkes with you at all times. Take a big bite out of one then promptly throw it at the nearest wall. You want to achieve a “surprise: potato pancake!” affect.
• Laugh maniacally then continue the interaction as if it never happened.
• Dawn a look of complete confusion and bewilderment. Say “Christttttttttttttt Massssssss?????” really slowly as if you’re hearing it for the first time ever. By the time you’re done saying it the customer has probably left on account of complete discomfort.
• “Oh yeah, when is that again?” This is called “the tables have turned” method.
• “Actually, I’m Jewish.” Be careful with this one. Use only for regular customers or clients who are ready to acknowledge an uncomfortable reality, which is that not everyone is exactly like them. They will probably respond with a knee-jerk “Oh, well…‘Happy Hanukkah.’” If you really want to drive the point home you can reply, “Thank you, I had a great Hanukkah.” Because let’s be honest, they probably had no idea Hanukkah ended the first week of December. Everything that isn’t Christmas is just a Christmas substitute and happens during Christmas, right???
• “Have a great day.” Just ignore it and respond as you would any time of year.
• “Happy Holidays.” Watch out: the Outstanding Christians fighting the War Against Christmas may stoically respond with “NO. Merry. CHRIST. MAS.” At this point the person you’re dealing with is probably an asshole, so do whatever you want.
• Say something in Hebrew. Like, anything in Hebrew. Except the mourner’s kaddish because everybody knows that one. This is actually a great tactic year-round for confusing people who are saying stupid things to you. Actually you could use any language besides English. Except Spanish. Everybody knows Spanish. Just start speaking in another language. This is probably the best idea I’ve ever had.
• Whatever you do: as long as you’re not responding with “You, too!” (which would be falsely allowing the person to assume that you are both in the Christmas Pals Club and having a good ol’ time) you will probably feel better and more honest about the situation. There’s no need to ruin anyone’s day, but there’s also no need to have your day ruined, either.

Have a good December 25th! 


A traditional yiddish tale takes the stage
Just in time for Hanukkah, The Seattle Jewish Theatre Company revives a Yiddish classic at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre.
By Tori Gottlieb · Posted November 27, 2013

The staged reading of Mirele Efros, presented by the Seattle Jewish Theater Company in conjunction with the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, will take place on Tuesday, December 3 at 7:00 PM at the Ethnic Cultural Theater, 3940 Brooklyn Avenue NE in Seattle. The play is free and open to the public. To reserve your seat, email SJTC at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or go online to jewishstudies.washington.edu/events.

A hundred years ago, Mirele Efros was one of the most beloved plays in the world of Yiddish theater. Written by famed Jewish playwright Jacob Gordin, the play will be revived in a staged reading on December 3 by the Seattle Jewish Theater Company (SJTC), headed by artistic director Art Feinglass.
Though Mirele Efros was originally written and performed in Yiddish, SJTC will be staging an English translation of the original play. The translation was produced by renowned Yiddish scholar Nahma Sandrow, who Feinstein calls “one of the great Yiddish scholars of our day.”
“[Dr. Sandrow] gave us permission to do this,” said Feinstein of using her translation for their performance. Feinstein also gave credit to Lauren Spokane, the assistant director of the University of Washington’s Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, which is working with SJTC to publicize and host the event. The reading of Mirele Efros will be introduced by Professor Barbara Henry, who teaches in the Jewish Studies program and specifically focuses her research on modern Yiddish drama and literature. Dr. Henry has published two books on Jacob Gordin’s contributions to Yiddish theater.
“Jacob Gordin was the David Mamet of his day,” explained Feinstein. “He tried to change the nature of Yiddish theater.” At the time of Mirele Efros’ debut, Yiddish theater was commonly referred to by the Jewish community as “shund,” the Yiddish term for “trash.” The plots of most plays made little to no sense, and it was not uncommon for characters to randomly burst into songs that had nothing to do with the story. Jacob Gordin, however, felt that Yiddish theater could be at the same level as the plays written by Shakespeare. Mirele Efros, commonly known as “the Jewish Queen Lear,” was his masterpiece.
Just as Shakespeare’s King Lear decided to divide his kingdom amongst his daughters, so does Mirele Efros give away her successful business.
“It’s really [the story of] a conflict between this very powerful matriarch and her young, inexperienced daughter-in-law,” Feinstein said. “When the mother also owns a business that’s the source of all the family’s wealth and power, there’s a power struggle.”
The play, which focuses on the relationship between these two female characters, shows that Gordin was truly ahead of his time. Feinstein pointed out that Gordin, who was a champion of women’s issues, paints Mirele as a smart, honorable businesswoman who is revered throughout Europe at a time when it was thought that women simply weren’t capable of running businesses.
Mirele Efros is one of two plays that will be put on by SJTC this year. While they focus on classic Jewish theater in the fall, in the spring they plan to perform From Door to Door, a contemporary Jewish production by James Sherman that plays off the famous Hebrew phrase “l’dor v’dor.” The play focuses on three generations of Jewish women and will be performed throughout the Seattle metropolitan area.
For his part, artistic director Art Feinstein is pleased to be able to continue the long and rich tradition of Jewish theater in the Seattle area. Feinstein, who lived in Israel as a young adult and served in the Israeli army during the Yom Kippur War, actually considered becoming a rabbi later on in life. But after a year in rabbinical seminary, he decided it wasn’t right for him.
“I liked it, and respected everyone who was there, but I decided that wasn’t my path,” he said. “I wanted to do something else to have an impact in the Jewish world. A couple of years later, I started the Seattle Jewish Theater Company.”
Now in its fourth year, SJTC hopes to provide the Seattle Jewish community with access to and an appreciation for classical Jewish theater. Jewish theater’s historical significance as a way that Jewish immigrants acclimatized themselves to American culture is not lost on SJTC, and they hope that they can continue the tradition of Jews seeing their lives reflected back to them in the art form.
“The Jewish theater is really a cultural treasure,” said Feinstein. “I’d like to share it with the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community. I’d like my grandkids to be able to go with their friends to see a Jewish play, and to appreciate this lovely gift that the Jewish community has given to the world.”
That’s what Mirele Efros is to the Seattle Jewish community - a gift, to thank the community for its support of SJTC as they work to revive an important piece of Jewish history and culture.
“It’s a very emotional presentation,” Feinstein said of the production of Mirele Efros. “There’s a reason it was so successful. This is going to be a very powerful piece.”


Kickstarter
Gobble tov!
Throw some latkes on the grill for ‘Thanksgivingukkah’
By Margery Cercado, UW News Lab · Posted November 26, 2013

Forget about mashed potatoes and add latkes to the list of dishes to expect at Thanksgiving. For the first time since 1888, the first day of Hanukkah will take place on the same day this year: Nov. 28.
Jewish students and community members around the University of Washington campus have been talking about their plans for the joint holidays.
The excitement surrounding the dual holidays, which have been coined by some as “Thanksgivingukkah,” has many abuzz especially about food. This includes cousins Aileen Isakharov and Maria Merakov, students at the University Washington.
“When I first heard [about Hanukkah and Thanksgiving] I thought: ‘how am I going to eat everything’ cause on Hanukkah you eat a lot – any holiday that’s Jewish you eat a lot,” Isakharov said. “And on top of that you have Thanksgiving, which is notoriously known for full stomachs and you get so sleepy [afterwards] like it’ll be a more intense food coma.”
Plug “Thanksgivingukkah” into your search engine and up will come pages upon pages of results featuring delectable-sounding recipes like turkey matzo ball soup and latkes with cranberry-applesauce.
“My family is really big on [both] Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, so what happened in my head [is that we are] going to stuff a turkey with latkes,” Merakov said. “But it’s really exciting because we get to combine the American and Jewish experiences this year.”
Merakov and Isakharov are members of the on-campus group The Jewish Student Experience. Rabbi Aaron Steinfeld, who leads the club, had the same sentiments as Merakov on the two holidays.
“I guess part of it is that we live in America and everyone celebrates Thanksgiving,” Steinfeld said. “So when you’re able to put the two together and combine [them, it shows] everyone that ‘wow we’re Jewish in America’ and I like that.”
While food seems be the biggest highlight for many about Thanksgivingukkah, Rabbi Elie Estrin of Chabad UW says Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are very similar, with their message of togetherness, calling it “an incredible opportunity.”
“Because we live in a very American culture in which Thanksgiving is a significant event on people’s calendar, [perhaps] this year they’ll make Hanukkah a center point of their Thanksgiving [as well],” Estrin said.
To celebrate the two holidays, Chabad UW will be hosting a Hanukkah party/Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 28 for students who are staying in Seattle for the holidays.
The rabbi also said that Apple Cup, the annual match between the University of Washington and Washington State University football teams, will be another “big and exciting” highlight of Thanksgivingukkah.
“[Apple Cup during this time] happens so rarely and I don’t think it will happen [at a time like this] ever again,” he said.
For the Friday game Chabad UW will be hosting a tailgate event and barbecue. Although it’s not exactly related to Thanksgiving, it’s still an exciting time for many Jewish students on campus.
“Generally speaking [UW football] games are usually held (during) Chabad, so [many students] can’t participate in the excitement,” Estrin said. “But this year with Apple Cup at 12 in the afternoon, we’ll be able to do a barbecue, put some latkes on the grill.”
Estrin noted similarities between the two seemingly different holidays.
“Hanukkah is a holiday of thanksgiving, like most of our holidays,” he said. “ Both [holidays] are celebration of freedom from religious oppression, and so both bring us as American Jews to recognize that we have a unique opportunity in this country. “… We have to appreciate both the country and the goodness that it brings us and the opportunity as proud Jews and involved Jews.

(Margery Cercado is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)


Yet another Seattle Jewish young adult connection
Surprise: Regardless of the fact that Millennials get a bad rap as being the apathetic, self-involved generation, many of us do care and want to find volunteer opportunities that are relevant to our interests.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted November 19, 2013

In a general effort (if you haven’t noticed the trend as of late) to try new and innovative ways to engage the “young adult” (what does that term really even mean anymore?) Jewish population, yet another Young Adult SomethingSomethingSomething organization is being launched nationally and more specially, here in Seattle. DASH is the Jewish Family Service of Seattle‘s new such project. “DASH” stands for “Dare to Act, Serve and Help.”
From the two Seattle DASH JFS Young Adult Ambassadors, Joanne “Zhanna” Rossignol and Tzippy Wiens:

DASH is also a reference to the—in a person’s obituary; we are born, we die, but what matters is what you do in-between.
DASH was started in May of 2013 when Repair The World and the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies selected Jewish Family Service Seattle for a year-long pilot project to increase young adult participation (Atlanta,GA and Detroit, MI were also selected). Integral to the pilot project are the JFS Young Adult Ambassadors.
The Young Adult Ambassadors worked with JFS staff to create a year’s worth of programming that highlights JFS’s diverse programs and volunteer opportunities geared towards community members in their 20s and 30s. The variety and breadth of JFS’ services and programs (assistance for refugees, the elderly, children, those with financial hardships, and addictions to name a few) directly impact the people and causes that many younger community members feel most passionately about, all right here in Seattle.
DASH programs expose participants to the different JFS programs and services through a fun social context.  The pilot project seeks to provide an avenue to both one-time volunteer projects and also a introduce younger members of the community to the role JFS can play in their lives as potential clients, volunteers or leaders. 
To date DASH has had a gardening party for a visually disabled individual, unloaded trucks at the JFS Food Sort, and sat down and had some time to chat with Rabbi Will Berkowitz, CEO of JFS. Upcoming DASH events include a game day at Gameworks that highlights the Big Pal/Little Pal program (Dance, Dance Revolution competition anyone?), a household registry drive to benefit Refugee and Immigrant Services and an interactive Music of Remembrance concert at Hillel UW with Holocaust Survivors from the Friendly Visitor program.
If you would like to learn more about DASH join the Young Adult Ambassadors at Chihuly Garden and Glass on Thursday November 21st at 6:00pm for a tour of the exhibit followed by a Happy Hour discussion of JFS’ Family Life and Education Program. For free tickets to this event please email Tzippy and Zhanna at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or find DASH on Facebook: dash at jfs.



If you’re interested in engaging Jew-ishly with Jewish Family Service, this may be a good entry point for you. As someone who’s used a variety of JFS’s services over the years, I certainly would like to give back and find out how I can get more involved in social services here in my community. But like any other Jewish community programs, I’d rather not look around and feel like the youngest person in the room by half. So, perhaps I too will start attending a few DASH events and see where I fit in.


Courtesy DVIDSHUB, Creative Commons
Help the Philippines typhoon victims
The Jewish community has some resources for helping the typhoon victims.
By Joel Magalnick · Posted November 14, 2013

Several Jewish organizations have set up funds to help provide aid for the wounded in the Philippines, the families of the more than 10,000 victims, and the people left homeless in the Typhoon Haiyan’s wake.

Jewish Federations of North America is taking donations online or through the mail at Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund, The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Funds will be distributed through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which is focused on providing on-the-ground aid for survivors. Donations to the Orthodox Union and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are also being directed to the JDC.

The Union for Reform Judaism will distribute funds collected to aid groups already working in the region. Donate online at urj.org/socialaction/issues/relief.

American Jewish World Service
will be channeling funds primarily to local Filipino aid groups. Donate online at bit.ly/19inkKt.


Hillel UW
Community funding gets a kick
Alright Seattle Jewish community: Let's go viral.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted November 14, 2013

On November 4, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle launched what it is calling one of its most innovative “value-add” programs ever to be introduced: They set up a website and then mostly stepped away, saying, “Good luck, and may the force be with you.” The new Federation-sponsored site, J-Kick, combines “Jewish” and “Kickstarter” as a way for local organizations to raise project funds.

Kickstarter, if you’re not familiar, is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform. The company’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life. Since launching in 2009, 5.1 million people have pledged $867 million, funding 51,000 creative projects such as films, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, and food-related projects. People who back Kickstarter projects are offered tangible rewards and one-of-a-kind experiences in exchange for their varying levels of support.

J-Kick was born out of a desire and need for the Federation to continue forging ahead in its mission to engage a younger, ever-evolving Jewish audience. While the Federation itself continues to raise money with its traditional Jewish population, its leaders have come to realize that engaging Jewish millennials means tapping into a new way of fundraising and communication.

“Federations emerged years ago in order to centralize fundraising and grantmaking within the Jewish community, and that was great, but this is not your grandfather’s Federation,” said Jim DiPeso, the Federation’s director of communications. “Today’s Federation donors have new ideas and new ways of thinking about getting the most out of their philanthropic dollars.”

J-Kick is open to 501(c)(3) organizations in Washington State or individuals who have a 501(c)(3) organization as their fiscal sponsor. Projects must serve the Jewish community in Washington State, have a fundraising goal ranging from $1,800 to $18,000, and cannot be under consideration for any other Federation grant while being listed on J-Kick. From the time the project goes live on the site, the funding goal must be reached by 30, 45 or 60 days — a period determined by the project’s manager. A project will receive funds if it reaches a “tipping point”: Two-thirds of the fundraising goal.

Allowing organizations that already receive traditional Federation funding — applying for and receiving specific programming grants each year — to get more creative and specific with their fundraising is exactly what the Federation intends to encourage with J-Kick.
“This is a way for new ideas that maybe don’t fall within the traditional funding guidelines to get funded and people can get excited about it,” said Keith Dvorchik, the Federation’s president and CEO. “We can use it as a way to broaden and expand what’s offered in our Jewish community.”

Since the launch earlier this month, eight projects have appeared on J-Kick. They vary from the “Schechter Tub,” a hot tub for Camp Solomon Schechter, to Vintage UW, which will allow Hillel students to create and bottle their own kosher wines.

Rabbi Oren Hayon, executive director of Hillel at University of Washington, said he is intrigued about how his agency’s experience using J-Kick will go. “Vintage UW is a little bit of an experiment for us; we’re not sure how people are going to respond and we’re not sure how it’s all going to work,” said Hayon. “We’ll see how this works differently from our traditional fundraising.” Given that J-Kick is so different from its other fundraising efforts, Hillel leaders are excited to see if the campaign is successful.

“Because it’s a really student focused project, we’ll be able to reach students and other people in new ways,” Hayon said.

As of Nov. 13, the project had received donations from nine funders, totaling 15 percent of the $1,800 effort, with 37 days left to donate. Another project, Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue’s “Living a Life that Matters,” which will bring in a Jewish Zen master for a Shabbaton weekend, has brought in $2,147 of its requested $5,744. That campaign incorporates incentives, such as lunch with the special guest for the highest donation level, to sweeten the pot.

Local entrepreneur Dan Shapiro believes that the successful projects will be the ones that engage the hearts and imaginations of the Jewish community. “If J-Kick allows donors to feel more connected to their community, everyone is going to benefit,” he said.

Shapiro launched a Kickstarter for a children’s board game in September, which raised more than $630,000 — over 25 times its original goal.

“The advent of crowdfunding has changed the relationship of people to projects that they care about,” said Shapiro. “With services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, people can find inspiration and role models in projects that bring them joy, and then back those in a way that is both affordable to them and meaningful to the project creator.”

But Kickstarter disallows charity fundraising, so Shapiro sees J-Kick as having the potential to bring this same ethos to a new type of program.

“That should be an opportunity, not a chore, for the people who work tirelessly to support it,” Shapiro points out. “By opening up ‘the budget’ to the community, and letting people vote with their pocketbooks, I think we could see a renaissance in Jewish community support.”
However, Max Temkin, a Chicago-based entrepreneur who co-created the wildly successful Kickstarter project Cards Against Humanity, is skeptical. He doesn’t believe the design of J-Kick will hold up when compared to the Kickstarter model. Over email, Tempkin told JTNews that “crowdfunding is revolutionary and it’s changed my life and I’m happy for any opportunity for people to get to make their own things, but I don’t think J-Kick is a great tool,” he wrote. “They charge backers when the project reaches 67 percent of funding, which seems like it would lead to a scenario where people have money from backers but not enough money to execute their project,” with regard to the “tipping-point” policy implemented by J-Kick.

With many of the project managers creating the J-Kicks being new to crowdfunding and how to budget exactly what may or may not be needed to carry out a successful project, this may lead to underfunded, impossible completions, implied Temkin.
DiPeso said the idea of modeling J-Kick this way was to straddle between two crowdfunding schools of thought: One that gives projects the money only if they reach their goals, and the other that allows projects to take whatever they’re pledged, regardless of the goal.
With the all-or-nothing model, “it creates a sense of urgency, so it really behooves the agency listing the project to really get out there and create a compelling message and market the project,” he said.
At the same time, the Federation didn’t want agencies who didn’t reach their full goals to end up with nothing.

“We’re looking for some middle ground,” he said.


Courtesy Cornish College of the Arts
How will we remember?
It's not news: We don't have many survivors left around to tell their story. So who will pass the torch?
By Erin Pike · Posted November 13, 2013

The way that my generation connects to the Holocaust is experiencing a major shift. I have many friends who have never interacted directly with a survivor. The odds of running into a survivor grow slimmer each day, as the generations who endured the brutality of the Third Reich have grown older and are passing on. Those without family ties to the Holocaust often rely solely on education—a museum, perhaps, or their school, to inform them of the horrors their family was so blessedly spared.

Additionally, my generation’s constant connection to world news and the ability of international tragedy to involve us immediately through means of technology creates the very real problem of choice. Which cause do we advocate today? When there is so much injustice, when there are so many flaws in cases of domestic capitalism and international human rights, when genocide is a term that has to exist, when that term belongs to multiple horrors throughout history and present-day—what story do we choose to share? Which cases of murder, rape, and social turmoil do we selectively advocate? Who am I, career-less and debt-ridden, to say anything in the first place?

It’s that familiar feeling of being both overwhelmed and voiceless which is the most prominent accompaniment to my consideration of the Holocaust, as shared by many of my peers. Because of this inability to look at one case without immediately considering all interconnected issues attached, I typically avoid Holocaust stories unless I’m, quite morbidly, “in the mood.” That is, it takes a certain kind of anger, a certain kind of melancholy to be able to “deal with” the reality of the Holocaust. I cannot merely read a page or two of Maus on a brief bus ride, or pop in Schindler’s List on a whim. I cannot take the Holocaust lightly. I have to curl up, get a box of tissues ready, and cancel social obligations while I become briefly lost, equal parts enraged and crushed.

People like me are the cause of problems for Holocaust-memorial organizations seeking to bring in young people as their average demographic continues to age. How do you engage young people in lessons and stories of the Holocaust without scaring them away? It’s a gigantic marketing problem with a significant financial reality: Who will support these institutions when their founders are gone?
The key to connecting the stories of the Holocaust to young people who may not already be connected lies in finding the proper medium. This is the realization I had on Sunday night in Benaroya Hall, as I stood to applaud the final act of Music of Remembrance’s fall concert, “Until When?” 

The arts have long been my lens of choice for observing and commenting on the realities of humanity. They provide a more complex and, often, beautiful shape to history and stories, a quality that is especially hard to achieve when that history is a harsh one. Still, I was surprised by how affected I was by MOR’s event. I am typically a patron of the experimental – the risky and risqué. I feared I might be totally out of place in the formality of a classical concert, or bored. But I was not. Though I may well have been the youngest in the audience, the fact that there were masterful musicians of all ages (the youngest being 12) represented on stage certainly helped me connect.

And as Mikhail Schmidt sawed violently on his violin, with his precise focus punctuated by an occasional, passionate stomp during a Sonata written by Erwin Schulhoff (d. Wulzburg concentration camp in 1942) – I found myself marveling at how contemporary it felt. Put Schmidt in casual clothes, with some video projections up behind him in a gallery, and I would be watching performance art. Here were musical notes written by Holocaust victims, being given a new and exuberant life in 2013 – a life that I was joyfully connecting to without being drawn into a weeklong Holocaust-induced depression. It was an unexpected feeling. 

The incredible last performance of the evening included dance choreographed by Pat Hon, featuring dancers from Cornish College of the Arts. The music (by Betty Olivero, from The Golem) and choreography meshed well, a blend of gestures of strength and isolation with group poeticism, which received a well-earned standing ovation.

This is all to say, I believe that Music of Remembrance has an advantage that other Holocaust organizations may lack: Art and vivacity. I have already added MOR’s next concert to my calendar, and I cannot wait. Having a young, twenty-something looking forward to an event related to the Holocaust is no easy accomplishment, and I hope that other organizations find a way to similarly connect. It is not easy, but I urge you to keep trying. Don’t give up. As I learned last weekend, there are ways to get my generation involved and to carry on the lessons of the Holocaust. They may not be traditional and will require the exploration of new mediums, but it is the only way the stories will live on.


Courtesy Jameson Fink, Creative Commons
The Weekend Guide
Grey days: After a busy week of exciting or disappointing election results, time to relax and enjoy some of Seattle's Jew-ish arts & culture.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted November 07, 2013

Music

Music of Remembrance fall concert “Until When?” and Happy Hour at Wild Ginger
Sunday @ 5:15 p.m.
This unique MoR concert will include ballet dancers from Cornish College performing along with renowned local clarinetist, Laura DeLuca. Happy hour at Wild Ginger will begin at 5:15 p.m. for cocktails before the show at Benaroya Hall. If you enjoy ballet, klez, and/or classical music, this is a performance that you will not want to miss. Tickets are $40. You can RSVP to for happy hour on the facebook event page, and purchase your tickets for the concert at musicofremembrance.org/tickets.
At Wild Ginger, 1401 Third Ave., Seattle. Concert at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle.

Art

Affordable Art Fair
Friday, November 8, 11am - 7pm
Saturday, November 9, 11am - 7pm
Sunday, November 10, 11am - 5pm

Through the weekend, catch the Affordable Art Fair and snap up some incredible pieces for yourself or maybe as a Thanksgivukkah gift for that special someone. This event hosts over 50 galleries and a huge array of contemporary art. Their concept is simple, yet unique: An inspiring and friendly atmosphere in which you can find thousands of original paintings, prints, sculptures and photographs all under one roof, ranging from $100-$10,000, with more than half priced under $5,000. The work of young, emerging artists hangs alongside some of the biggest household names, while the Recent Graduates Exhibition provides a chance to discover work by a future art world star. Admission is $10 and tickets can be purchase online or at the door.
At the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, 305 Harrison St., Seattle.

Social

All American 2nd Shabbat
Friday @ 7 p.m.

In honor of Veterans day is Monday, so in honor of the upcoming holiday, Jconnect is bringing you an evening of all American food and drink. Drinks and schmoozing begins at 7 p.m. followed by services at 7:30 p.m. Everyone who RSVPs will get a drink when they arrive and in honor of the theme, you’re guaranteed some patriotic boozy beverages. Stay for a delicious down-home American dinner with both meat and vegetarian options. Dinner is $12, $6 for graduate students, or pay what you can. Be sure to sign up, as spaces are filling up fast!
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle.

Shmoozin’ @ Havanna Social Club
Saturday @ 8 p.m.

The Tribe at Temple De Hirsch Sinai invites anyone ages 21-26 to come out for a Saturday night pre-funk cocktail party at Havana Social Club on Capitol Hill. First drink is on them, guys. “Free drink? No thanks,” said no one, ever. Questions? Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
At Havana Social Club, 1010 E. Pike, Seattle.

Social Action/Tzedek>

Teen Feed
Sunday @ 5 p.m.

Teen Feed is a program that provides meals to homeless youth and connects them with case workers to offer additional support services. Each second Sunday of the month, volunteers (like you!) make and serve the meal at Hillel UW. Cooking and serving shift starts at 5:00 p.m., cleaning and serving crew can arrive around 6:45 p.m.
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle.

Learning

Torahthon
Sunday @  9:30 a.m.

At Torahthon, area rabbis, professors and teachers present topics of special personal and professional interest to a broad spectrum of learners. A wide range of courses are offered, focusing on identity/community, Israel studies, Jewish studies/history, social justice and text study. Sunday’s programming includes “Eshet Chayil: What Does It Mean to Be a Woman in Jerusalem 2013?” taught by Hillel at UW’s Israel Fellow, Tal Goshen-Gottstein. Continental breakfast reception followed by two, one hour sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Cost is $15 per day or free for college students. Reservations can be made online now.
Herzl Ner Tamid, 3700 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 4:24 Friday, November 8
This week’s parsha is Vayeitzei
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Courtesy Modernfarmer.com
Confused by I-522? Look to Israel for guidance
Still holding on to that ballot because you're just not sure about I-522? See what Janis Siegel has to say about how Israel deals with genetic modification.
By Janis Siegel • JTNews Columnist · Posted November 04, 2013

If you’re baffled by Initiative Measure No. 522, the proposed genetically modified food labeling ballot measure in the upcoming Nov. 2013 Washington State election, it might be instructive to explore Israel’s agricultural research and its regulation of GM foods. It may not necessarily clarify your position on the subject, but Israel’s approach to the use of the technology along with the rest of the world’s varied responses to allowing it into their food supplies are worth considering.
GM foods typically contain DNA from a plant or animal of the same species inserted into them to obtain a desired trait. Many detractors of the process have raised serious objections to the more unconventional transplantation of DNA or genetic material from one species to another non-related species. This is relatively new territory that began in the early 1970s and is on the verge of entering the mainstream food chain in the U.S., where genetically engineered salmon is expected to be FDA-approved in the next few weeks for sale in stores. It will be the first GM animal ever approved for human consumption and contains genes from an “eel-like fish” and another breed of salmon.
The genetic engineering of plant seeds can save populations by optimizing the presence of life-saving vitamins in them, increasing their insect and virus resistance, upping their yields, and designing them to tolerate higher amounts of herbicides.
However, GM seed can also leave human populations vulnerable to everything from serious digestive problems to documented deadly allergic reactions, as well as their economic and environmental effects on the land.
For over a decade, the European Union has resisted pressure from the United States, via the Free Trade Agreement, to accept our GM food imports. The U.S. has already genetically modified several crops used in most domestic food products including corn, soy, and canola, and the modification of the cottonseed oil crop is quickly accelerating.
Just this past month, a Mexico judge banned GM corn due to its harmful environmental effects.
In Israel, agricultural research in universities is heavily subsidized by the Israeli government and international corporations. Universities are very accepting of GMs in the laboratory. Most of the research is on the genetic modification of plants and it focuses on improving its resistance to diseases, herbicides, and pests.
Currently, food researchers are experimenting with a tomato that would be resistant to viruses and grown without seeds. Tomato researchers are also working to genetically modify genes to manipulate the amount of non-saturated fat in the plants.
But Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture highly regulates the research on GM foods to prevent the contamination of GM seed to other non-modified crops within the country. Seed drift is a large problem wherever GM foods are grown.
Globally, local and organic farmers have sued corporations accusing them of intentionally allowing their seed to contaminate local crops in order to claim patent infringement and overtake them.
In Israel, a highly specific research plan must be submitted by anyone wanting to experiment with GM plants and their related microorganisms.
But perhaps most importantly, in addition to the initial strict application process in Israel, researchers can only develop a technology to the “proof of concept,” or research, stage.
Although Israel allows the use and sale of GM foods in the country, it does not allow them to be grown there commercially.
Once developed, a GM technology that is ready for a real-world application must be exported to other countries for testing. GM researchers can only test small projects in enclosed green houses or if in open fields, it must be far away from agricultural areas.
In addition to the health effects of GM foods, which are in dispute with many of its promoters, Israel’s kosher laws complicate the issue. Some religious groups do not see it as a threat while others support its detractors.
The Israeli kosher authority has ruled that genetic engineering doesn’t affect a product’s kosher status because genes are microscopic.
However, other Jewish groups believe that the foods created by transferring DNA from one species to another is in direct violation of the biblical directive to not mingle different seeds and breeds together — whether plant or animal.
Strawberries have always been problematic in Israel because they contain microscopic bugs that cannot easily be washed away. Kosher authorities only allow them to be eaten when they are blended into other foods. If the berries are bug-free, they are usually awash in pesticides.
But recently, an Israeli chemical developer created a new pesticide called Tamar Tech that appears to have solved the issue: A vegetable oil emulsion that greatly reduces the need for pesticides down to about 20 percent and is safe for humans and the environment. According to the AgroNews Web site, the natural spray is already being used in southern Israel to grow 40,000 tons of cherry tomatoes.
Another small Israeli startup has found a way to make plants genetically resistant to disease. The U.S. is helping to fund pre-field trial tests.
Still, there are no requirements for labeling GMs in Israel. However, its Ministry of Health is preparing regulations to require labeling when a food product contains GM corn or soy. The proposal would require the words “genetically modified” to be printed on packaging.
Should Washington State do the same?


Zach Carstensen
Jewish community seeks to influence gun reform initiative
The Seattle Jewish community continues to lead the way on sensible social policy with activism surrounding Washington's newest gun reform initiative.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted November 01, 2013

It has been almost one year since the Sandy Hook school shooting that rocked the nation last December.
As demolition crews this week razed the school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 1st graders and six employees were killed by a 20-year-old gunman, grassroots community organizers have been taking to the streets in Washington State with petitions for new gun-reform legislation, Initiative 594, which community leaders hope will appear on the fall 2014 ballot.
I-594 would require background checks for online sales and private transactions, such as those that occur at gun shows. The checks would be conducted at federally licensed firearm dealers, where potential buyers must already undergo such scrutiny before purchasing a new weapon.
Helping to lead the way for the I-594 campaign is Cheryl Stumbo, a former marketing director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, who filed the motion with the secretary of state. Stumbo was one of five women wounded during the 2006 shooting at the Federation’s offices. One woman, Pamela Waechter, died in the attack.
Stumbo now works with the non-profit group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility as one of its faith organizers.
“We go out and help different organizations work with their social justice congregation members and faith leaders getting those congregations activated around this issue,” she told JTNews.
Because of the divisive nature of this issue, WAAGR decided to dedicate organizers to the faith community.
“We help support their efforts because [the faith communities] support this issue of gun responsibility and background checks,” Stumbo said.
Stumbo did not immediately gravitate toward gun-reform activism. Even after physically healing from the incident at the Jewish Federation, she continued to struggle with the winding path of emotional recovery.
“Whenever I saw anything on the news [about the shooting] I would feel a little destroyed for a few days or a week,” she said. “I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I wanted to do something about it.”
Once she made that decision, it became easier for Stumbo to become proactive in the gun-reform movement in Washington State. “I went down to Olympia and testified about the bill that [State Rep. Jamie Peterson (D–43rd)] was trying to advance for background checks in the state,” Stumbo said. “That’s when I met Zach Silk.”
As campaign director for Washington United for Marriage, which successfully worked to pass the referendum last year to uphold same-sex marriage, Silk had moved on to the group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility to lead the initiative campaign for gun responsibility. Working closely with Silk was Zach Carstensen, the director of government relations and public affairs at the Jewish Federation.
“This community, this Federation has had firsthand experience with gun violence,” Carstensen said. “At the most basic level, that is the reason why this Jewish Federation cares so much about this issue.”
Carstensen emphasized the mandate that Federation leadership has issued over the years since the shooting to pave the way for significant, impactful gun reform. He points out that the Federation has supported all manner of policy solutions — mapping public schools and religious schools, increased security funding for vulnerable institutions, and in particular, improving the mental health system in the state.
Alongside the efforts of the WAAGR, the Federation continues to seek comprehensive solutions to gun reform.
“Fifteen Jewish organizations have endorsed the need to have universal background checks,” Carstensen said. “We’re going to keep growing that list, follow every lead and every possibility until we make a change in the state.”
Another key player in this effort, Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, has been working with his congregation, Seattle’s Jewish community, and the faith community at large toward gun responsibility education and reform.
“This has been a long-standing concern, especially with the Reform Judaism movement,” Weiner said. “The real catalyst was the Connecticut shooting.”
In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, Weiner and other Seattle clergy banded together and made a pledge to work toward making a difference with gun reform.
“Washington is at the forefront,” Weiner said. “Our state has the opportunity to again lead the way in sensible social policy.”
On the other side of the coin is the Second Amendment Foundation, whose headquarters in Bellevue are working toward an initiative of their own, Initiative 591.
I-591 was written this past spring by Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.
The two key points I-591 address are the confiscation of guns or other firearms from citizens without due process by government agents and that government agencies requiring background checks on the recipient of a firearm should be illegal unless those checks meet a uniform national standard.
Dave Workman, communications director for Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said I-591 is a much simpler initiative than 594.
“If I wanted to buy a firearm in Bellevue or Spokane or Walla Walla, it should be no different than any background check in another city in the United States,” Workman told JTNews. “There’s no reason to add a bunch of hoops for people to jump through.” Currently, no uniform national standard for background checks exists, but Workman believes there should be.
“Why do you want to make it more difficult to exercise a fundamental civil right?” he asked.
Both initiatives will ramp up their efforts to meet the January 3, 2014 deadline for gathering the 246,372 required valid signatures for the initiative to appear on next fall’s ballot. Stumbo said WAAGR’s goal is to have all of its signatures by December 14, the anniversary date of the Sandy Hook massacre.


Courtesy walktowork, Creative Commons
The Weekend Guide
Coming off your sugar high yet? Chill out this weekend with some low-key fall activities.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted October 31, 2013

Film

The Pin
Opens Friday, November 1

Two young people experience love and loss while in hiding during World War II. After a life of regret, the young man, now old, is faced with an opportunity for redemption. Read the full review from Tom Tugend Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. Friday and Saturday’s 7 p.m. screenings will feature a Q&A with writer/director, Naomi Jaye, following the film.
At Sundance Cinemas, 4500 9th Ave. NE, Seattle. For showtimes and ticket prices, visit the Sundance Cinema website.


Lectures

Max Blumenthal: Life & Loathing in Greater Israel
Saturday @ 7:30 p.m.

Wherever you might stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, knowledge is power! Head out to Town Hall to hear author Max Blumenthal’s take. In his new novel, “Goliath,” Blumenthal paints a portrait of Israeli society under what he calls the siege of increasingly authoritarian politics tied to the deepening occupation of the Palestinians.
At Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave. (at Seneca Street), Seattle. Tickets are $5 at the door; doors open at 6:30 p.m. More information on the Town Hall site.

Music

10th Annual Cabaret Macabre

Friday @ 7:00 p.m.

Join The Bad Things and their entourage of artists, including Baby Gramps Nu Klezmer Army and EuroDancePartyU$A! (featuring members of Nu Klezmer Army and Orkestar Zirkonium), for a night of strange costumery, drunken debauchery, sideshow splendor and junkyard sounds.
At FRED Wildlife Refuge, 127 Boylston Ave. E, Seattle (Capitol Hill). $18 advanced/$20 day of show. Buy tickets now at Brown Paper Tickets.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:35 Friday, November 1
This week’s parsha is Toldot

Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.

Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.

 


The Pin
A tale of love and loss and the Holocaust, in Yiddish
Two young people experience love and loss while in hiding during World War II. After a life of regret, the young man, now old, is faced with an opportunity for redemption.
By Tom Tugend Jewish Journal of Los Angeles · Posted October 30, 2013

Naomi Jaye, director of “The Pin,” will attend the Seattle premiere at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, 4500 Ninth Ave. NE, at 7 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 25. Visit

for showtimes and ticket reservations.

When Naomi Jaye, who has been making short films in her native Canada for the past 10 years, told friends she was embarking on her first feature film, they cheered.
When she added that the project would be the first Canadian movie in Yiddish, which neither she nor her lead actors knew, the friends questioned her sanity.
Five years later, the result of her perseverance is “The Pin,” a story of love and loss during the Holocaust, of faithfulness to a promise and the question of whether a sense of humanity can survive in a world transformed into a slaughterhouse.
The movie’s first scene shows Jacob, somewhere between adolescence and manhood, emerging from a hole in a forest, glancing around warily, and then running as if escaping an unseen enemy.
In the second scene, set in a morgue, an elderly shomer, who guards the body and soul of the dead until burial, reads psalms from a prayer book while occasionally glancing at a body resting on a gurney, covered by a white sheet.
In a long flashback, the shomer recalls his youth. The year is 1941, Nazi armies have overrun his hometown somewhere in Eastern Europe and have killed his entire family.
He finds shelter in a barn that seems empty, but soon encounters a young Jewish girl, Leah, whose family has met the same fate and who has also gone into hiding.
After initial suspicion and confrontation, the two orphans move toward each other, emotionally and physically, fall in love, and eventually conduct their own impromptu wedding ceremony.
When Leah hears of an empty train that travels “across the border,” she and Jacob plan their escape and a happy life together. But fate and a quarrel interfere, and the young lovers are separated, neither knowing what happened to the other.
What about “the pin” of the title?
Jaye says the inspiration for the story and title came from her grandmother, who throughout her long life had an obsessive fear of being buried alive.
As she aged, she made her son, Jaye’s father, promise that when she died, he would prick her hand with a pin, to make absolutely certain she was actually dead before placing her body in a coffin.
This story, Jaye said, “always fascinated me, because it required an act of true love that was also an act of violence.”
Decades later, when Jacob, now the aged shomer, lifts the sheet and looks at the body beneath, he realizes that lying before him is his youthful love, Leah. He remembers her fear of being buried alive, his promise to her, and he starts to look for a pin.
It would be an unpardonable spoiler to reveal the end of the story, but to Jaye, the tale, and the movie, represent the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
In an interview, she explained this assertion by noting that the chief protagonists, “caught in a terrible situation, are able to find beauty and love.”
Some viewers may find it difficult to accept this hopeful evaluation, or appreciate the extremely slow pace of the movie, marked by long, wordless pauses in semi-dark settings.
Jaye has a cogent explanation for using this technique. “The lives of people in hiding, as for soldiers in war, are marked by long periods of waiting,” between occasional bursts of extreme action, and, the director said, this was the mood she was trying to convey.
Her main problem in casting the movie was the lack of any young actors in Canada who knew Yiddish.
She solved the problem, quite effectively, by putting Grisha Pasternak, who plays Jacob, and Milda Gecaite, as Leah, through a six-month Yiddish course, and the results are quite satisfying.
Both actors arrived in Canada as children, Pasternak from Ukraine and Gecaite from Lithuania. Neither is Jewish, and both show considerable talent.
Veteran character actor David Fox, as the shomer, has few lines but lets his expressive face do most of the talking.


Keep calm and turkey-dreidel on
Once in a blue moon, as they say, does the rare holiday of Thanksgivukkah bestow upon us a healthy helping of gluttonous culinary delight (read: gut-bomb), with a side of stress. How to decide what to cook?
By Deborah Gardner · Posted October 29, 2013

We American Jews have a few burning questions on our minds this season, questions the great sages never considered. First among these is: How will latkes taste with cranberry sauce? 
And while we’re at it, what about cranberry jelly in sufganiyot? Or latkes with turkey? In fact, New York’s famous kosher 2nd Ave Deli has for years offered a sandwich called the Instant Heart Attack, which is corned beef, pastrami, salami or turkey crammed between two enormous latkes. I’ve always thought of the turkey option as a joke, or maybe something for goyim. What’s next, mayonnaise? I’m no rabbinic scholar, but I’d guess Rabbi Hillel wouldn’t have known what to do with this sandwich. But the joke’s on us, because this season we’re going to have turkey –– and maybe cranberry sauce –– with our latkes.
This topsy-turkey situation has arisen because, as you may have heard, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlap this year for the first time since the late 1800s and the last time for about 70,000 years. If you’ve been arguing with a hesitant spouse each year about whether to deep-fry the turkey, let’s just say this may be your year to go with the oil. Call it Thanukkah, Chanksgiving, or Thanksgivukkah, this year after we light the menorah with the shamash, and check whether the turkey we made is dry and ready, we’ll dish up the shamashed potatoes, we’ll take the hanukkasserole out of the oven, and we’ll all sing Plymouth Rock of Ages (Maoz Tzurkey in Hebrew).
In keeping with tradition, everyone has an opinion or two about how best to fulfill the mitzvah of latke and cranberry –– or whether it’s a mitzvah at all. In my extremely unscientific opinion poll about latke accompaniments (read: asking family and friends), more people are pro-cranberry than strictly purist, but there is dissent.
My mother sees “nothing wrong with it” but when asked whether she thought her mother, of blessed memory, would have liked the idea, she paused. “I don’t know,” she said. “Grandma wouldn’t touch anything if it wasn’t the way she ate it when she was 19 years old and living in Brooklyn.” My father, pro-cranberry, thought the ideal accompaniment would be the famous “sounds terrible, tastes great” cranberry relish of NPR host Susan Stamberg’s mother-in-law, since it contains sour cream. 
Anna Goldberger of Chicago had mixed feelings. “I’m not so crazy about this meshing of WASP-y cranberries with my precious latkes,” she said. “But, I’ll try anything once.” Elias Kass of Seattle thought latkes with cranberry sauce sounded delicious, and the vast majority of Seattleites I talked to concurred, but Seattleites are a conflict-avoidant lot. Evelyn Shapiro O’Connor said, “Latkes are made to be adapted,” and went so far as to call them a “classic fusion food opportunity.” But Matthew Borus of Washington, DC wondered where the line was drawn. “I think that the question is not whether it’s okay to eat them with cranberry sauce, but whether they maintain their identity as latkes.” He added, “The fundamental dividing line, I believe, is ketchup.” Maybe encouraging cranberry is a slippery slope.
Some of the most pro-cranberry Jews I spoke to turned out to be in Massachusetts, a tiny state that produces over thirty times as many cranberries as Washington, so I suspect some bias. Sebastian Schulman of Amherst, Mass. answered my question with a question: “Is cranberry sauce really that far from the apple tree?” Susanna Chilnick of Salem said her mother’s brisket sauce contains cranberries, and that it goes well with latkes. Mike Alpert of Cambridge was all for the cranberry option, but also proposed turkey mole with latkes. At this point, I got too hungry to continue interviewing, and besides, too many other questions were coming up.
Like, what would the Thanksgivukkah story be? If you’re stuck for a version that will please nobody, consider this: 
A long time ago, the Pilgrimaccabees fled King Antiochus’s reign in England and sailed away on the ship Ryeflour. They landed at the Rock of Ages on the mountainous shores of Massachusetts, which produces one fourth of the nation’s cranberries. King Antiochus defiled the Temple with pig’s blood and ketchup, and prohibited practicing of Judaism or wearing bonnets and hats with buckles. The scrappy band of Pilgrimaccabees fought back and, against all odds, won the war.
The Indians, who already lived in Massachusetts and surrounding areas, felt bad for the Pilgrimaccabees, what with the temple situation and all, and noticed that the Pilgrimaccabees were pretty lousy about preparing food supplies. Worst, these immigrants were unfamiliar with not just turkey and cranberry, but potatoes. All they had to offer was applesauce, and chocolate coins in gold foil for currency.
Together, the Indians and Pilgrimaccabees cleaned up the temple, deep fried some turkeys, made cranberry sauce and latkes, and lit oil for the Temple’s sacred fire, while the Indians asked the Pilgrimaccabees how they felt about colonization and the intentional spread of smallpox. They had plenty of time to talk about it, because the turkey, which seemed enough to last only for one night, miraculously lasted for eight days and eight nights, at the end of which they were really sick of turkey. Oh, and the oil miraculously burned a long time too.
And all these years later, we seem to be embracing our only shot at Thanksgivukkah, because this convergence of holidays brings us something we truly value as a people: more food. The internet is filling up with Thanksgivukkah recipes. Peter Shelsky, of Shelsky’s Smoked Fish in Brooklyn, is already planning to offer potato latke stuffing, pumpkin-pecan-pie rugelach, and other ready-made Thanksgivukkah treats. (Peter is, incidentally, also pro-cranberry.) I’m sure someone is making a menorah out of pop-up turkey thermometers, and Jewish vegetarians are looking forward to saying mazel tofurkey. And if you can’t yet find a dreidel with apple, pecan, pumpkin, and sweet potato pies on the four sides, or an illustrated children’s book of the Thanksgivukkah story, it’s probably just a matter of time.
So what do we do about the latkes? My friend Danielle, somewhat of a peacemaker, suggests cranberry applesauce. To avoid any wars (and we know how hard those are), I think I’ll follow her advice. Sweet potato latkes are also a good solution. Whatever you make, odds are your guests will gobble it up.


Courtesy Yuri Levchenko, Creative Commons
The Weekend Guide
Election time approaches, so gear up with some cultural events and inspirational weekend activity.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted October 24, 2013

Film

Zaytoun

Opens Friday, October 25

When an Israeli fighter pilot is shot in Lebanon in 1982 and imprisoned in a Palestinian refugee camp, he forms a unlikely relationship with 10-year-old Fahed, who yearns to return to his family’s village and plant his late father’s olive trees seedling. The two strike a deal and embark on a perilous journey, one that tests the limits of humanity.
At the Landmark Harvard Exit Theatre, 807 E Roy St., Seattle. For show times, visit the Landmark Theatre site.

Best of Fest Family Film Series
Yes, it’s the “Family Film” series for SJFF’s Best of Fest, but these are still pretty dec flix.
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., head to the Rainier Valley Cultural Center for “Sixty Six,” a cute comedy about a hapless Bar Mitzvah boy whose big day conflicts with the World Cup in 1966. Helena Bonham Carter plays his loving Jewish mother.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., check out the award-winning animated feature “The Rabbi’s Cat,” about an Algerian feline in the 1920s who actually wants to have a Bar Mitzvah. Then at 4:30, enjoy “My Dad is Baryshnikov,” about a Russian ballet student who convinces his peers that he’s the illegitimate son of esteemed dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
All films at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S Alaska St., Seattle. $5. For more information contact Pamela Lavitt at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-388-0832, or visit the event registration page.
“Sixty Six” @ 7:30 pm Saturday
“The Rabbi’s Cat” @ 2 pm Sunday
“My Dad is Baryshnikov” @ 4:30 p.m. Sunday

Lectures

Coming up Monday…don’t miss it!
Town Hall Lecture: Reclaiming Prosperity

Monday @ 7:30 p.m.

As election day approaches, are you curious about the hot topics being discussed in the the Seattle area?
Jconnect will be attending Town Hall Seattle’s discussion on the economic impacts of a higher minimum wage! This November, Seatac will be voting on creating a $15 an hour minimum wage for low-wage hospitality and transportation workers. Additionally, fast-food and retail works across the nation are demanding to be paid a higher wage, and are fighting for a $15 an hour wage.
At Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave., Seattle. Tickets are $5 at the door and doors open at 6:30 p.m., with event starting at 7:30. See more information on the Facebook event page.

Social

Jews in Shoes – Green Lake

Saturday @ 10:30 a.m.

Lost in a fog this week? Need to get out there and move those bones a bit? If you need a group of (somewhat) motivated runners to help you get going this weekend, join Jconnect’s “Jews in Shoes” group and take a walk, run or jog around Green Lake with some friendly faces. Meet at Green Lake Starbucks at 10:30 a.m. (rain or shine!)
Friends and pets welcome. The group will head over to Blue Star Cafe & Pub (4512 Stone Way N, Seattle) afterward for a snack, cup of coffee or well deserved beer. Questions? Contact Joanne Rossignol at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Study

Sunday @ 5 p.m.

Join fellow young adult Israelis and Hebrew speakers at Hillel at UW to shoot the s*it beh ivrit. 

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

Candle lighting: 5:45pm on Friday, October 25
This week’s parsha is Parashat Chayei Sara
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
4th Shabbat Service and Dinner, Friday night!
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Dikla Tuchman
Living in the Middle East on a houseboat in Seattle
Seattle author Lesley Hazleton looks critically at the story behind the Phoenician queen and her legacy.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted October 23, 2013

Lesley Hazleton titles herself “the accidental theologist.” Moreover, her blog, theaccidentaltheologist.com, which she began in April 2010, goes further to define Hazleton’s mission with the tagline: “An agnostic eye on religion, politics, and existence.” But, if you had asked her 20 years ago if she saw herself writing books on historical figures like Muhammad, Mary and Jezebel, she would have laughed.

Hazleton describes her spiritual journey writing about these subjects as “a way of being in the Middle East without being caught up in the undertow.” Every morning, she wakes up on her houseboat in the Puget Sound, but in her mind she is in the ancient desert.

“Basically, my motivation was ‘I want to know,’” says Hazleton about why she chose the subject of Jezebel in her 2007 acclaimed novel, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen or her most recent novel, The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad. “I wrote these books for myself.”
When coming up with the idea years ago to write a novel following the life, death and afterlife of Jezebel, she didn’t really know much about the famed “bad girl of the Bible, the wickedest of women.” But as she began to dig, “I discovered these wonderful stories,” says Hazleton. The book itself goes into great detail about Queen Jezebel, the Phoenician wife of King Ahab of Israel, her foreign gods and goddesses (especially Baal), her rejection of the god of her husband — Yahweh — and her ultimate demise by the prophets Elijah and Elisha.

“In a stunning example of self-fulfilling prophecy, Elijah and Elisha had helped bring about exactly what they most feared. Ideology had replaced pragmatism, faith had ridden roughshod over a sense of reality. As it still is today, the result could on by disaster” – “Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen,” page 198.

What Hazleton accomplishes through documenting both the history and its reflection in our current conception of the prophecies is to give us a better understanding of some of these characters that we may have always taken at face value. The book focuses on both our misconceptions of Jezebel as a demonized harlot and Elijah as a compassionate, merciful prophet.

“Religion is a human construct,” Hazleton says. “Religion is identity — it is part of me the same way being a woman is part of me…I’m bound to it.”

While Hazleton considers herself an absolute agnostic, she emphasizes that her identity is steeped in her Jewish heritage.

“In no way am I trying to be an authority,” she says. “Hence theologist, not theologian. My purpose is more history than theology, strictly speaking.”

Hazleton says she is ready, now, to move on and stop living in the Middle East (metaphorically). “My next book is going to be an agnostic manifesto,” she says.

You can purchase Lesley Hazleton’s books, including Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen at your local bookstore or on Amazon (paperback or for Kindle).


Help! Unhealthy workplaces: Stay or Go?
Our trusty advice columnist weighs in on working with "different" types of people.
By Erin Pike · Posted October 22, 2013

Dear Adira,
What does one do about the fact that a) it’s good to work with different types of people different because you grow and don’t become complacent, but b) working with different types of people can also require unhealthy sacrifice? Because, let’s face it: What makes some of those people different from you is that they are unethical, offensive, and/or are actively working against you.
-M, Seattle

Dear M,
Oh hey. Sure, differences are important and necessary, but being around people with whom you share a basic code of ethics is also pretty darn important. If you’re an honest, law-abiding citizen, but your coworker is coming in on Monday and bragging about how they stole someone’s identity, robbed the company, and then went on a murdering spree, your silence is WAY beyond the scope of a mere “unhealthy sacrifice.”
It’s fairly simple to communicate to someone that they’re being offensive. Even to confront somebody about their efforts to bring you down is awkward, but it can be done. However, trying to talk to a coworker about their unethical behavior and explaining why it’s negatively affecting your work is REALLY difficult. Because the truth is, their shady behavior means you don’t trust them, and if you don’t trust someone at a basic level, you won’t accomplish squat as a team in the workplace.
So with that in mind, you can either kick out the unethical person OR get out of there and start working with people who (you THINK) are, at the very least, ethically similar to you. You need that foundation of trust. There will be a whole new slew of issues to manage, but it may just be more tolerable and healthier for your work and productivity in the long run. And honestly? I bet even with lots of similarities, you’ll still find enough differences to keep you and your work growing.


Courtesy David Bunis
How to speak Jewish
Who ever thought Judeo-Spanish could be so interesting?
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted October 18, 2013

Do you speak Jewish?
It sounds like a funny question. How does one speak a religion, a culture, a people? Jews are Jewish. They speak Hebrew.
Or Yiddish. Or Ladino. Or Judeo-Iranian, or Judeo-Arabic, or even — according to linguist Sarah Bunin Benor and others — Jewish English, also known as “Yinglish” or “Hebonics.” Throughout time and from place to place, Jews have spoken their own Jewish language.
This, in relation to Judeo-Spanish, is the point Professor David Bunis made before a packed audience at Hillel at the University of Washington on October 9, at a talk titled “Ladino/Judezmo as a Jewish Language.”
Bunis is the University of Washington Schusterman Visiting Israeli Professor for 2013-2014, a position supported by the Stroum Jewish Studies Program, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), and the Samis Foundation.
Backed by a PowerPoint presentation, Bunis outlined the linguistic characteristics of Judezmo (a term he prefers to Ladino, which technically refers to a style of translation between Hebrew or Aramaic and Spanish) and the history of the language.
Judezmo originally meant “Jewish,” and by the 17th century, Judezmo was known in the Ottoman Empire as “the Jewish language.” Eighteenth-century Bible translations use Judezmo to mean Jews, or the Jews’ language. Like Yiddish, Judezmo was used in secular, profane contexts, while Hebrew was used in the holy sphere. Israel commissioned a commemorative Ladino stamp and may be establishing the first International Ladino Day on December 5 of this year.
Bunis, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who now lives in Israel, first became interested in Judezmo in high school when he came across a chapter on Jewish languages in the book “College Yiddish.”
“I really became fascinated with it, and corresponded with the speakers,” he said.
By 1980, he had earned his doctorate from Columbia in linguistics, with a focus on the Hebrew-Aramaic component of Judezmo.
Since that time, he said, the interest in Judeo-Spanish and comparative Jewish languages has grown, particularly in Israel and Europe, where students are looking for new research angles.
“I think it’s taken more seriously,” he said. “It’s more widely known.”
A Jewish studies program open to a wide range of Jewish experiences and a strong connection between the academy and the community make the UW an ideal place for a scholar like Bunis, according to Devin Naar, Marsha and Jay Glazer Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies. Naar heads the Sephardic Studies Initiative within the Stroum Jewish Studies Program.
In addition to spontaneous applause during the lecture, when Bunis played a recording of Hazzan Ike Azose’s “Ein K’Eloheinu,” many attendees began to sing along.
“Where else are you going to find a captive audience like that?” Naar asked. “Not even in Jerusalem could you get 125 people out [for a lecture] in Ladino. It never happens.”
In his opening address, Naar hailed the progress of Sephardic studies at the UW. Recently, he said, he received a call from Yeshiva University in New York asking for help with its Ladino materials. Who could imagine, mused Naar, Yeshiva University would turn to the University of Washington for anything Jewish?
Having Bunis here for the year “makes the UW one of the only — if not the only university in United States — where undergraduate students will have the opportunity to study the Ladino language in its historical and socio-linguistic contexts,” said Naar.
Bunis is teaching three courses this year, including Ladino for Beginners in the winter.
“I want to try to help students who are interested in furthering their knowledge in Judezmo,” said Bunis.
If students advance enough, he may even teach them to read the calligraphic script known as Soletreo. Bunis and Naar both emphasized the community’s relevance.
“You have here a swath of the Jewish community who has not seen its language and culture valorized and celebrated and canonized into the realm of Jewish studies in the academy in the way that Yiddish has,” said Naar. “Now we have that opportunity to demonstrate to the community why their heritage is really valuable.”
“The community itself seems to be very dedicated to their Sephardic traditions” Bunis noted. “That was really heartwarming.”
While Naar pointed out that the UW has always been engaged with Sephardic studies, the initiative is now officially being instituted in the Stroum Jewish Studies Program. An active advisory board chaired by Lela Franco, a member of the program’s advisory board and chair of the Sephardic Studies Initiative, is working with the community to shape its goals and vision.
Several of this year’s events will headline Sephardic content, including a lunch-and-learn with Prof. Ilan Stavans in January and “Mixing Musics: The Sacred Songs of Istanbul Jews” in February.


Laurence Salzmann/Anyos Munchos i Buenos
The Weekend Guide
Turkfest, Polish Film Festival, brats and beers, and, of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted October 17, 2013

Film

Jerusalem
A breathtaking journey through the city of God. Don’t miss it. See our review here.

At Pacific Science Center IMAX - Boeing Theater, Seattle Center.

Seattle Polish Film Festival
The Seattle Polish Film Festival features two Jewish-themed films this weekend. “Siberian Exile” (2013, 125 mins.) follows Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews deported to the Soviet Union in 1939. Through the eyes of young Staszek, the exiles face starvation and the ruthless elements in a brutal coming of age tale. In addition to learning survival skills, Staszek has to choose between Jewish Zinnia and Russian Luybk. In “Redcurrants” (2011, 34 mins.) Swedish resident, academic and journalist Leo Kantor reenacts his life story: His childhood in Russia in World War II, his adoption by his Polish-Jewish stepfather, and the witnessing of Germans leaving Poland after the war that shaped his memories.
Films are in Polish with English subtitles. Tickets $5 for SIFF members, $10 for non-members. At SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle.
Redcurrants: Saturday @ 4:20 p.m.
Siberian Exile: Sunday @ 3 p.m.

Art

Joshua Kohl
Tuesday-Sunday through October 20
Joshua Kohl, of the Degenerate Art Ensemble, created new compositions based on the writings and poetry of his father, progressive educator Herbert Kohl.
At the Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle

Turkfest
Sunday @ 2 p.m.
Join Turkfest 2013 for an exhibit and lecture by documentary photographer Laurence Salzmann. Salzmann will discuss his exhibit, “500 Years of Sephardic History: Turkey’s Jews Revisited.” On the Main Stage. At 1:30, his wife will be giving a presentation on “Women of Gordion.” Afterwards, enjoy Sephardic music. Salzmann’s photos are on display at Hillel through November 8; a selection will be on display at Turkfest.
At Seattle Center

Performance

12 Minutes Max
Sunday @ 7 p.m.
12 Minutes Max, a showcase for new performance, gives regional artists the chance to test out new ideas. Jew-ish writer Erin Pike returns to the Max with a new solo work, Communion, that evokes the cries of a real-life religious journey expressed through memories and music. Tickets available at OtB 1 hour before showtime.
At On the Boards, 100 W Roy St., Seattle

Music

Molly Lewis
Friday @ 8 p.m.
One look at Molly Lewis and the first thing that comes to mind is “this girl’s got to be Jewish.” She’ll be kicking off GeekGirlCon with the Doubleclicks. $5 suggested donation cover at the door. She’ll be at GeekGirlCon all weekend, at tables in the exhibit hall. Come say hello and get buttons and goodies.
At the Wayward Coffeehouse, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE #104, Seattle

Social

Beer, Brats and Bereishis
Saturday @ 8 p.m.
Join BCMH’s YAC for an evening of learning, drinking, eating and meeting. Open to singles and couples 21-36. With guest speaker Rabbi Meir Waxman. Questions? Please contact Julie Greene at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
At the home of Dan and Francine Birk. RSVP for location details.

Study

Introduction to Judaism
Sunday @ 9:30 a.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Level 2 Advanced Beginner Hebrew
Sunday @ 11 a.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Intermediate Hebrew Level 3
Sunday @ 9:30 a.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Why Be Jewish?
Sunday @ 12:15 p.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

The Parsha is Lech Lecha
Candlelighting is at 5:59 p.m.
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Dikla Tuchman
The other side of the story
An Israeli and a Palestinian who both lost a child to the conflict are using their pain to inspire peace.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted October 16, 2013

“Two Sided Story” will be screened again on November 5 at 6 p.m. at Hillel at the University of Washington, co-sponsored by the Stroum Jewish Studies Program. Following the movie there will be a question and answer session led by Shiri Ourian, the Executive Director of American Friends of the Parents Circle – Families Forum.

“Losing a child is unlike no other pain I can describe,” said Robi Damelin to a crowd of 40 community members who gathered at St. Mark’s Episcopal church Sunday, October 13.
More difficult still is losing that child to an act of violence, when it is often easier to turn that pain into anger. Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin could have simply turned their grief into rage, but instead, after losing children to violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, they sought out understanding.
Damelin (Israeli) and Armin (Palestinian) are not alone. They are joined by over 600 other Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost an immediate family member to the conflict. Together, they make up a unique grassroots organization called The Parents Circle – Family Forum (PCFF). Founded in 1994, the PCFF’s long-term vision is to create a framework for a reconciliation process that plays an integral part of any future peace agreement. “We can work together,” said Bassam, “we just need to discover our humanity.”
Sunday’s joint presentation by the PCFF at the church was cosponsored by St. Mark’s and Temple De Hirsch Sinai. “Dean Thomason [of St. Mark’s] and Rabbi Daniel Weiner, of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, have been working for several months on developing interfaith programs at St. Mark’s and TDHS, which have a long history of service to the Seattle community beyond their own congregations,” said volunteer parishioner Steven Paul Moen, who led Sunday’s forum.
Damelin and Aramin each told the story of their personal struggle and journey toward creating an understanding of “the other,” which they stressed is essential for laying the foundation for the road to reconciliation.
“There is no revenge for a lost child,” said Damelin. Damelin’s son was killed by a Palestinian sniper while serving in the reserves, and Aramin’s daughter was killed in front of her school by an Israel Defense Forces soldier. Both feel the same pain and have chosen to stand on a stage together in solidarity to show that the only solution is a peaceful one. Both repeated in their talk that it is easy to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, but neither of those helps further the progress of the peace negotiations.
As members of the audience were invited to participate in a question-and-answer discussion, Moen emphasized that the focus on dialogue is PCFF’s reconciliation mission and not the difficult political or military issues facing the leaders and people of the Middle East.
“We feel that PCFF’s mission offers an encouraging message in what often seems an intractable struggle,” he said.
Weiner echoed this sentiment, pointing out that oftentimes Jews and Christians find themselves at odds over this issue.
“Efforts like the Parents Circle try to transcend the controversy and focus on the universal issue,” he said. “I so value my relationship with St. Marks, and Steve and I are committed to continuing our relationship. This is a very significant way in which we are looking to do that.”
While it’s true that there will always be outliers on the extremes who are only interested in continuing the status quo, Weiner believes that “those of us in the mainstream middle are looking to help move the process forward in a productive and positive way.”
Following Damelin and Aramin’s discussion at St. Mark’s, the Seattle Jewish Film Festival screened the documentary “Two Sided Story” at the Stroum Jewish Community Center. Directed by Emmy Award-winning director Tor Ben Mayor, the 75-minute film follows a group of 27 Palestinians and Israelis who meet through a PCFF project. Among the participants are bereaved families, Orthodox Jews and religious Muslims, settlers, former IDF soldiers, ex-security prisoners, Gaza residents, kibbutz members, second-generation Holocaust survivors, non-violent activists, and more.
“Film has a way of inspiring a mutual experience,” said SJFF director Pamela Lavitt. “This was an opportunity to have a conversation with the subjects of the film, not just the filmmakers.”
Lavitt said she saw an incredible response and turnout by the community, noting that there was a strong Israeli representation and not just “the usual suspects” at the SJCC screening Sunday afternoon.
“We felt the program managed to stay extremely engaging and positive,” said Lavitt. She pointed out that the SJFF does not often receive much of a response unless solicited, and that the unsolicited response is often negative. “We’ve received two or three ‘thank-yous’ for having the courage to bring the film,” she said.


20th Century Fox
A fairytale story
Millie Perkins was on her way to becoming a successful model in Paris when history intervened.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted October 15, 2013

Foster Hirsch interviews Millie Perkins at Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island, on Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. “The Diary of Anne Frank” will screen at 10:30 a.m. that morning. $12/$8 Stroum JCC members, seniors, and students.

Millie Perkins was on her way to becoming a successful model in Paris when history intervened.
“I had never decided to be an actress,” she said. “I was probably 18 or 19 years old. Little did I know I was going to be a movie star.”
Now 77, Perkins is best known for her role as Anne in the 1959 film production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Perkins will be interviewed by film buff Foster Hirsch at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation on Oct. 27 as part of the J’s Jewish Touch lecture series.
Hirsch, in addition to teaching and writing about film, handles celebrity interviews and has brought Perkins to Chicago and Israel.
“Foster’s one of my most favorite people around, so I said yes [to Seattle],” Perkins told JTNews from her home in Beverly Hills.
Born in Passaic, N.J. in 1938, Perkins’s face was gracing magazine covers around the world by 1958. Director George Stevens noticed her looks and invited her to read for the part of Anne. But acting had never occurred to Perkins, and she knew nothing of the story of the Dutch girl whose diary would come to impact Western civilization.
“I was leaving for my first trip abroad to model in London and Paris,” Perkins said. “I was having a very exciting new life. It’s kind of a fairytale story. And all my French friends said, ‘Oh Millie, you must go.’”
The diary “hit me right in the heart,” she said. Perkins was one of 10,000 girls to audition for the part.
After six months of shooting, Perkins could have returned to her Parisian fairytale, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“I met this actor, Dean Stockwell, who I married for like two minutes, and became a Hollywood person,” she said.
While “Anne Frank” went on to win three Academy Awards, Perkins’s acting career never exploded. In the late 1970s, a rumor spread that she had died. In fact, she had relocated to tiny Jacksonville, Ore. to raise the two daughters she had with her second, late husband Robert Thom.
“I moved to Oregon to get off the locomotive,” Perkins recalled. “I was raising my children. It was heaven to me.”
When Thom died in 1979, Perkins says she “had to get back to reality,” and in 1980 returned to Hollywood to support her family, where she acted mostly in television, B-movies, and cult films — especially in mother roles. She appeared as Sean Penn’s mother in “At Close Range” and as the mother of Charlie Sheen’s character in “Wall Street.”
Though Perkins sounds wistful as she reflects on the turns her life has taken, it has been an adventure.
“I went out into the world, and I think I really wanted to be my father,” a merchant marine, she said.
While shooting the 1985 miniseries “A.D.,” in which Perkins played Mary, mother of Jesus, in Tunisia, Perkins was held at gunpoint by Yasser Arafat’s soldiers at the airport.
The guard “looked at my passport and my face and said, ‘No,’” she recounted. “He shoved me in the chest with his gun.”
Perkins’ escort pushed her into a crowd onto the tarmac. “It was scary.” But of the whole experience, she said, “It was quite wonderful and difficult. But it was fun.”
On another occasion, Perkins was seated next to former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barack on a flight.
“He told me wonderful stories,” she said, like the time he came upon an Egyptian soldier alone during the Yom Kippur War. In a standoff, they held their guns on one another. Then, “they looked in each others’ eyes and they both put their guns down and shared their lunches. He never told anyone that story.”
Perkins’s talk comes at a significant time: This November marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles is currently holding an exhibit about Anne Frank.
“The film lay dormant for many years,” Perkins said. “Then about 10 years ago there was a new flurry of interest.”
She suggests the popularity in the story is related to the increased access to information — and with it, hate.
“I see terrible hate going on, and I see great strides going on to change that,” she said. “I think Pandora’s Box has been opened. Who knows how the human race will be in 10 or 20 years?”
To this day, Perkins says she receives “hordes” of fan mail from viewers touched by “Anne Frank.”
“Anne Frank is the reason they write the letter,” she said. “That’s a good thing.”


 

Photo by Dikla Tuchman
What’s bigger than a breadbox and makes liquid bread?
A Seattle homebrew kickstarter, launched in part by local beer-tech savant Avi Geiger, has blasted way beyond its initial funding goals.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted October 11, 2013

Once upon a time, computer systems were so large they filled up an entire room. Now, we casually walk around with machines just as powerful in the palms of our hands. No big deal, right?
So it should come as no shock that brew systems that fill up enormous warehouses can now be found boiled down to an appliance a bit like an oversized microwave.
Less surprising still is that this incredible piece of brew-tech was dreamed up and made a reality right here in Seattle by former Microsoft software genius, Bill Mitchell. After over 18 years as an executive leading pioneering efforts in PDAs, smartphones, automotives and wearable computing, it seems only natural that you’d want harness those skills and knowledge to make beer, no?
With food innovation in their blood, Bill and his brother Jim seemed poised to begin work on the PicoBrew three years ago. Jim had spent much of the last two decades building innovative food processing plants in California, following in the footsteps of their grandfather, Dr. William Mitchell, inventor of some of our childhood favorites like Pop Rocks and Tang. If you ever meet Bill or Jim, be sure to ask about some of those early stages of experimentation with Pop Rocks when they were kids. There’s a reason the candy pieces are so small.
In 2010, the two brothers began working on their automatic homebrew system out of their personal frustration with traditional homebrewing. They found it messy and tedious, and precision was difficult. They wanted to perfect their recipes, without all those hassles. What they came up with was a machine that would cut out time, variables and mess: The PicoBrew Zymatic.
After two years of hard work, the brothers brought in a third co-founder for PicoBrew, former Microsoft hardware designer Avi Geiger, who worked with Mitchell at Microsoft in the 90s. Geiger shared the Mitchell brothers’ passion for innovation and beer, so it seemed like the perfect fit. The three set out to create something new that could possibly be on the cutting edge of brewing tech.
The PicoBrew Zymatic: Automatic Beer Brewing Appliance officially launched on Kickstarter on September 30, 2013, and is poised to blow its funding goal of $150,000 far out of the water. Currently at over $300,000 pledged, backers are able to invest from anywhere to $5, which rewards you with a “virtual tip of the glass” all the way up to $9,999 for a full brew day with the mad scientists themselves using the brand new signature edition of the PicoBrew Zymatic.
As it so happens, Geiger also has a long Israeli lineage, going back seven generations in Safed. We sat down with Avi and talked with him about what brought him to Seattle, how his time at Microsoft led to his current project and what’s on the horizon for him.

Jew-ish: What brought you to the Pacific Northwest?

Geiger: I grew up in south Florida and wanted to go to college somewhere it didn’t snow.  I ended up at Harvey Mudd College outside of Los Angeles, and got hooked on mountain sports.  So now I wanted to live somewhere with ocean and mountains.  After a couple summer internships and visits in April that were randomly during that one magical week where the weather is good I deluded myself into thinking the weather up here wasn’t too bad.  I’ve been here 14 years now.

Jew-ish: You worked for Microsoft for some time on various projects.  Can you tell us a little bit about what you did there and how that led you to this project?

Geiger: I’ve worked on hardware for almost anything that hasn’t been in the “hardware group” at Microsoft. Mostly incubation projects — some worked, some didn’t — some had to be tried a few times before they caught.  I worked on some of the first smartphones, early tablets, set top boxes, new PC form factors, an array of underlying technology, phones again, tablets again, set top boxes again, PCs again, and a long list of things that never made it out of the building.

Jew-ish: From what we understand, you worked on some pretty cutting-edge stuff at Microsoft, but the higher ups didn’t bite. Is working on a project like this independently and going through Kickstarter something you see as moving away from that? If Kickstarter weren’t around, would you still have gone forward with this project?

Geiger: It’s always frustrating to work on things and have them cancelled or have to abandon them, but that’s part of working on the cutting edge.  Especially for a big company where the stakes can be a lot higher and there is already a huge investment in the status quo.  But I also have dozens of personal projects that I’ve started on, and they didn’t make technical or business sense at some level, so it’s off to the next.  I love working through the possibilities.

Kickstarter is a great tool.  It’s hard to prove demand more unequivocally than having people actually signing up and purchasing the product, and being able to fund a project or company by selling product is fantastic.  Not to mention the emotional support from all the backers and messages we’ve received from people who are excited about it.  But there’s a long list of traditional ways to work through these problems too. 

Jew-ish: Now that you’ve invented something like this (which is fairly revolutionary), where do you see it going? Continuing to tweak and modify or moving on to another project?

Geiger: I’ve been working on this for two years now and every day we have had new ideas for how to extend the system and where it can go.  I’m excited to see those through for a long time still.  Especially now that we see how excited people are about the Zymatic.

Jew-ish: Are there parts of the PicoBrew system that you’re still trying to refine before the Kickstarter completes and shipping begins?

Geiger: Mostly it’s getting production versions of our prototype parts and making sure they still work the way we’d like.  There are some usually design differences depending how a piece is going to be manufactured and we need to test and make sure we really have something functionally equivalent to the best prototypes we have today.

Jew-ish: What advice would you give someone who’s got an innovative idea and the technical skills to make it happen?

Geiger: Test the unknowns. Fail early, fail often.  Once you know it’s feasible, put together the right team and get going.  It does require a certain stomach for risk and the ability to learn from mistakes and move forward from failure.


Avi is 36 and lives in Madison Valley with his wife Genevieve, who is from Seattle.

Courtesy Seattle Polish Film Festival
Jew-ish: The weekend guide
Jerusalem, Poland, Turkey, and everywhere in between. And, of course, Shabbat.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted October 10, 2013

Film

Jerusalem
A breathtaking journey through the city of God. Don’t miss it. See our review here.

At Pacific Science Center IMAX - Boeing Theater, Seattle Center.

Seattle Polish Film Festival
Friday @ 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.
The Seattle Polish Film Festival is screening three Jew-ish movies, starting with “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir” and his classic psycho-thriller “Knife in the Water,” about a romantic boat trip that devolves into psychological warfare. Check the next weekend guide or their website for more listings - “Siberian Exile” and “Redcurrants” next weekend. And check back for reviews!
At SIFF Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N, Seattle

Social Justice Film Festival
Saturday @ 7 p.m.
Watch “The Central Park Five” and hear from Sister Helen Prejean, a leading death-penalty abolition advocate and author of “Dead Man Walking.” “The Central Park Five,” a new film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles The Central Park Jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of these five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice. 
Tickets $8. RSVP to Talia at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) required.
Join Jconnect for an evening at the where we will be watching the movie Central Park Five and hearing from Sister Helen Prejean.
For more information on the Film Festival itself visit socialjusticefilmfestival.org.
At University Christian Church, 4731 15th Ave. NE, Seattle

SJFF Film and Discussion: “Two-Sided Story”
Sunday @ 4 p.m.
This documentary film was created by the Parent Circle-Families Forum, a joint Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation organization and bereavement group. It follows a diverse group of Palestinians and Israelis as they participate in an extraordinary dialogue workshop. Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin, parents and co-founders, will be in attendance.
At the Stroum JCC, 3801 E Mercer Way, Seattle

Art

Joshua Kohl
Tuesday-Sunday through October 20
Joshua Kohl, of the Degenerate Art Ensemble, created new compositions based on the writings and poetry of his father, progressive educator Herbert Kohl.
At the Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle

Pre-Holiday Art and Gift Sale

Third annual Kadima pre-holiday art and gift sale, featuring Judaic and secular art: Jewelry, ceramics, wall art, mosaics, and fiber art (scarves, tallit, challah covers).
At Kadima House, 12353 8th Ave. NE, Seattle

Music

Songs From My Heritage
Sunday @ 7:30 p.m.
David Krohn (baritone) presents a program that spans six languages, nearly three hundred years of musical composition both famous and obscure, classical, Broadway, show tunes, cantorial music, and beyond. Dessert reception following.
At Temple B’nai Torah, 15727 NE 4th St., Bellevue

Shabbatica

Second Friday Shabbat
Friday @ 7 p.m.
Jconnect’s monthly Shabbat is going Turkish, with the opening of an exhibit by Laurence Salzmann, whose photographs depict the Jews of Turkey. Have cocktails, head either to services or a discussion with Salzmann and Rabbi Hayon about Sephardic texts, and then enjoy a Turkish-themed dinner with meat and vegetarian options. Dinner is $12, $6 for graduate students, or pay what you can afford.
RSVP required.
At Hillel UW, 4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle

Shabbaton with Rabbi Daniel Landes
Friday night and Saturday, various lecture times
Rabbi Danny Landes of the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem will be scholar in residence over Shabbat. He will give several talks relating to “sages in collision,” about interactions between rabbinic figures and how they shaped Judaism.
At Minyan Ohr Chadash, 6701 51st Ave. S, Seattle

Shabbaton with Rabbi Ken Spiro
Friday night and Saturday, various times
Shabbat dinner talk at SBH: “Back to the Future - The Jewish View of History”: An introduction into the Jewish view of time and history. Shabbat morning drasha at BCMH: Lech Lecha. Shabbat afternoon, one hour before Mincha at SBH: “Israel and Ishmael – The Metaphysical Roots of the Middle East Conflict.” Saturday night with Radical Amazement: “WorldPerfect - The Jewish Impact on Civilization.”
At BCMH and SBH, Morgan Street and 51st Ave. S, Seattle

Study

Introduction to Judaism
Sunday @ 9:30 a.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Level 2 Advanced Beginner Hebrew
Sunday @ 11 a.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Intermediate Hebrew Level 3
Sunday @ 9:30 a.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Why Be Jewish?
Sunday @ 12:15 p.m.
Herzl Ner-Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

The Parsha is Lech Lecha
Candlelighting is at 6:12 p.m.
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Courtesy Michael Natkin
Soup therapy
What's better than a crock o' homemade minestrone? Nothing, my friend. Nothing.
By Michael Natkin · Posted October 09, 2013

Homemade minestrone has got to be one of the best rainy day foods in the world. Living in Seattle, we’ve got ample opportunity to test that theory. It is certainly miles beyond the canned version. Add a glass of wine and a couple of big garlicky croutons to soak up the broth, maybe a salad, and you have a whole meal.
The version of minestrone I always come back to is based on Marcella Hazan’s Minestrone alla Romagnola recipe in “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.” Marcella recently passed away after many years of touching hearts and tables around the world. I’ve just streamlined her recipe a bit (soaking zucchini? why?) and omitted the beef broth to make it vegetarian. I think you will find it equally delicious with the simple tomatoey broth, especially if you include the parmesan rind.
The what? That’s right, the parmesan rind. You know when you buy a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano, there’s always that piece at the end that’s too hard to grate? Scrub those a bit and throw them in the freezer. Then, when you’re ready to make minestrone, toss it in the pot. While the soup simmers, all that incredible flavor extracts out, filling the soup with umami. (Of course you can omit this for a vegan version, or if you don’t eat cheese with animal rennet.)
You can toss this soup together and let it simmer for just an hour, and it will be good. But if you can let it simmer for two or three hours, the flavor will truly develop. Even better, make it a day ahead of time and reheat it. I haven’t been able to track down the science behind it, but umami-rich foods, and tomato-flavored foods in particular, always improve after 24 hours. If anyone has seen any research on this, please let me know.
As Marcella points out, this is one of those lovely dishes that doesn’t require perfect advance preparation. You can easily prepare and cut each vegetable as the previous one is added to the pot and sautéed.

Vegetarian Minestrone

Vegetarian; gluten-free if you omit the crouton; vegan if you omit the cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1-2 medium carrots, small diced
3 stalks celery, small diced (reserve leaves for garnish)
2 cups small-diced waxy potatoes, skin on
1 handful green beans, ends trimmed, cut in 1/2” lengths
3 medium zucchini, small diced
3 cups finely shredded cabbage (Savoy or green)
1-2 tablespoons vegetable broth powder; I like Seitenbacher (double check gluten free / vegan status if important to you). Don’t be tempted to use a thick vegetarian broth; you can use a pre-mixed one as long as it is a clear, brown type that tastes good.
1 parmesan rind (see above)
1 15-oz. can good-quality whole Italian tomatoes with juice
salt
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 15-oz. can cannellini or white navy beans, drained and rinsed
Big garlic-butter croutons for serving (optional)
Heat the pot and the olive oil over a medium-low flame. Add the onion and a big pinch of salt and sauté for 3 minutes. Add each of the following ingredients in turn, tossing and allowing to cook for 2-3 minutes after each one: carrots, celery, potatoes, green beans, zucchini, cabbage. Cook for 5 more minutes.
Stir the broth powder into 6 cups of water and add to the pot. Add the parmesan rind. Add the tomatoes and their juice, and break them up a bit. Taste and add a little salt, with caution.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for at least another 30 minutes and preferably up to 2-1/2 hours.
Uncover, add the cannelini, and simmer for another 15-30 minutes. If it gets too thick, add a bit more broth or water. If it’s too thin, raise the heat just a little — don’t boil hard or the vegetables will break up.
To serve, discard the parmesan rind and stir in the grated cheese; taste and salt as needed. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with the reserved celery leaves and a couple of the garlic-butter croutons. Pass more grated parmesan at the table. You might also like a little additional drizzle of good olive oil.
Serves 6-8 as a main course.


Local food writer and chef Michael Natkin’s 2012 cookbook “Herbivoracious, A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes,” was a finalist this year for a James Beard award. The recipes are based on his food blog, herbivoracious.com.

"Siberian Exile." Courtesy Seattle Polish Film Festival.
Onward with the arts
Some upcoming arts happenings for your Jew-ish life.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted October 08, 2013

October 11-20
Seattle Polish Film Festival

The Seattle Polish Film Festival features two Jewish-themed films. “Siberian Exile” (2013, 125 mins.) follows Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews deported to the Soviet Union in 1939. Through the eyes of young Staszek, the exiles face starvation and the ruthless elements in a brutal coming of age tale. In addition to learning survival skills, Staszek has to choose between Jewish Zinnia and Russian Luybk. In “Redcurrants” (2011, 34 mins.) Swedish resident, academic and journalist Leo Kantor reenacts his life story: His childhood in Russia in World War II, his adoption by his Polish-Jewish stepfather, and the witnessing of Germans leaving Poland after the war that shaped his memories.
Films are in Polish with English subtitles. Tickets $5 for SIFF members, $10 for non-members. At SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle. For more information visit http://www.polishfilms.org.

Tuesday, October 15 at 7 p.m.
Black is a Color

Art exhibit and lecture
Stan (Shlomo) Lebovic’s photo-realist artwork depicts the Holocaust’s profound and indelible impact on the generations born from the horror. Dark, yet colorful, surreal compositions seem to infuse light and hope into the darkest images of modern Jewish history.
Free. At The Seattle Kollel, 5305 52nd Ave. S, Seattle. For more information contact Rabbi Avrohom David at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-722-8289 or seattlekollel.org. For more information on the artist, visit blackisacolor.com.

Wednesday, October 16 at 7 p.m.
Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen

Author talk
Lesley Hazleton, author of “Mary” and “The First Muslim,” will talk about her biography of Jezebel. The book was published six years ago, but the “accidental theologist” is still “half in love” with the Bible’s villain harlot queen whose history she reclaimed. Hazelton has given a TED Talk and is the recipient of a Literature Genius Award from The Stranger. Dessert reception follows presentation.
Free. At Temple B’nai Torah, 15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue. For more information, contact Shelly Goldman at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 425-603-9677, or visit http://www.templebnaitorah.org For m.ore information on Lesley Hazelton, visit accidentaltheologist.com.

Through October 20
Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Film
The 18th annual Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival features one hyperlocal and two Israeli shorts. Benignly titled “Summer Vacation” (Israel, 2012) can only be a set up for the problems that ensue when family-man runs into his past while vacationing with his family. “Little Man” (UK/Israel, 2012) is director Eldar Rapaport’s third film based on tense relationships between men, and another Israeli foray into the suspense/horror genre. And “Pinko Fag Jew” (U.S., 2000) depicts the surprisingly little-known life of Faygele ben Miriam, the Seattle-based activist of the 1970s who pioneered for gay marriage way before his time.
“Summer Vacation” (22 mins.) screens with Boys Shorts Sunday, October 13 at 2 p.m. at the Harvard Exit Theatre, 807 E Roy St., Seattle.
“Little Man” (22 mins.) screens with Scream Queens Wednesday, October 16 at 9:30 p.m. at the Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., Seattle.
“Pinko Fag Jew” (13 mins.) screens with Radical Faerie Short Film Festival Saturday, October 12 at 4:30 p.m. at the Northwest Film Forum.
For more information visit http://www.threedollarbillcinema.org/2013.

Tuesday, October 22 at 7 p.m.
Hannah Arendt

Film screening
In partnership with the University of Washington Germanic Department and the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, the Stroum Jewish Studies Program will screen “Hannah Arendt,” the 2012 biopic about the German-American Jewish philosopher and her controversial coverage of the Eichmann trials in Jerusalem.
At 220 Kane Hall, University of Washington, Seattle. For more information contact Lauren Spokane at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-543-0138, or visit stroumjewishstudies.org/events.

Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27
SJFF Best of Fest Family Film Series

Film screenings
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., head to the Rainier Valley Cultural Center for “Sixty Six,” a cute comedy about a hapless Bar Mitzvah boy whose big day conflicts with the World Cup in 1966. Helena Bonham Carter plays his loving Jewish mother. On Sunday at 2 p.m., check out the award-winning animated feature “The Rabbi’s Cat,” about an Algerian feline in the 1920s who actually wants to have a Bar Mitzvah. Then at 4:30 p.m., enjoy “My Dad is Baryshnikov,” about a Russian ballet student who convinces his peers that he’s the illegitimate son of esteemed dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
All films at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S Alaska St., Seattle. $5. For more information contact Pamela Lavitt at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-388-0832, or visit bit.ly/FamilyFilms.

 


The Weekend Guide
Out of the holiday coma, we're back with all the Jew-ish music, movies, dance, and Shabbatica you can handle in one weekend.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted October 03, 2013

Film

Jerusalem
A breathtaking journey through the city of God. Don’t miss it. See our review here.

At Pacific Science Center IMAX - Boeing Theater, Seattle Center.

Blue Jasmine
There’s nothing Jewish in Woody Allen’s latest feature (*sigh of relief*) except maybe Michael Stuhlberg’s brief role as a nerdy, inappropriate dentist, but Blue Jasmine is pretty awesome. Deluded, broke, pathetic and usually drunk “Jasmine” (Janet, actually) crashes with her trashy sister in San Francisco after her high-society life falls apart. In Greek tragedy style, every character rides Fortune’s wheel, and when you land on the last scene you’ll be mad that you have to get off the ride. Stunning performances by Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, and others.
At various theaters.

Arts

Creating a New Northwest
Through Sunday, October 6
Young and on a budget, Seattleites Herb and Lucy Pruzan started populating their home with local art in the 1950s, never knowing that their home would become a veritable museum one day. Now through October, some of the Pruzans’ pieces will be on display at the Tacoma Art Museum in an exhibit titled “Creating a New Northwest.” Read the story in JTNews here!
At the Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave.

Music

Sparks of Glory: Voice of the Heart
Saturday @ 2 p.m. and Monday @ 7:30 p.m.
As a counterpart to Seattle Art Museum’s exhibit “In a Silent Way,” a moving reflection on African-American history and identity, Music of Remembrance’s concert-with-commentary will explore how music has expressed struggles between continuity and assimilation during times of conflict and persecution. Music by Osvaldo Golijov, Erwin Schulhoff, Marc Lavry and Laszlo Weiner.
At Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle.

Chastity Belt
Saturday @ 9 p.m.
We’re not totally sure if Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro identifies as Jewish, but we’re going to go out on a limb and recommend the sultry, semi-punk sound of this four-girl band from Walla Walla, now located in Seattle. “Seattle Party” starts out “Your tattoos are so deep / They really make me think / And your life is so rough / You’ve been through so much.” And with songs like “Nip Slip” and “Giant (Vagina),” how can you go wrong? Seriously, you can’t go wrong.
At The Highline, 210 Broadway Ave. E

Dance

Air Twyla
Through Sunday, October 6
The Pacific Northwest Ballet presents “Air Twyla,” consisting of three works by choreographer Twyla Tharp: “Waiting at the Station,” “Brief Fling,” and “Nine Sinatra Songs.” The performance features accomplished young principal Chelsea Adomaitis for her a first-time role in “Waiting at the Station,” and costumes by Isaac Mizrachi in “Brief Fling.”
At McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle. Performances run Thursday-Sunday.

Shabbatica

Bagels and Banterr
Saturday at noon
Join Rabbi Emily Meyer to talk about the Women of the Wall’s struggles for equality, Rosh Chodesh, and the Jewish calendar.
At Eltana Bagels, Capitol Hill

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

The Parsha is Noach
Candlelighting is at 6:23 p.m.
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Creative Commons/Center for Jewish History, NYC
Poems for the people
A re-imagining of Yiddish folksongs brings the Old World to a new era.
By Sarah Zaides · Posted September 30, 2013

Book review: To Sing Away the Darkest Days

Derived from and made for the people, folksongs share a kind of self-realizing ethos, feeding and feeding off of themselves. Whatever the themes that they cover, from cries for peace in the wake of the Vietnam War, to pleas for equality during the Civil Rights movement, their success depends on their ability to identify and speak to the issues of the times. The words, as Bob Dylan aptly put it, must “[pour] off of every page/like it was written in my soul/from me to you…tangled up in blue.”
It is no surprise, then, that Norbert Hirschhorn’s recent collection of poems, “To Sing Away The Darkest Days: Poems Re-imagined from Yiddish Folksongs” (Holland Park Press, 2013), is structured as an attempt to translate what’s “folk” about those Yiddish “folksongs,” doing it in a language that resonates with contemporary audiences.
Hirschhorn was born in Vienna and escaped the Second World War via London with his parents. He grew up in the Bronx, NY, and eventually attended medical school at Columbia. In 1993, for his research on cholera and diarrheal diseases, President Bill Clinton recognized him as an American health hero. After retiring from his career in public health and medicine, he received an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 1994. Hence this lovely collection of poems.
The book is structured in two parts: The first contains Hirschhorn’s poems, and the second contains the original lyrics to the Yiddish folksongs. Initially I questioned this decision, thinking it would have been better to place them side by side, but as I began to read, I realized doing so would have punctured the ease of absorption into Hirschhorn’s interpretation of themes of revolution, community, loss, love, and guilt.
Take one poem, “A Tsarist Conscript Bids Farewell”:
“Be well, dear parents, I’m off/To a faraway place-treeless…Cry not, dear parents/but forgive your son/if he does not keep kosher/pig and potatoes is all they serve.”
The original folk song, “Zey Gunt” (Be Well), compiled by S. Ginsburg and P. Marek in “Yidishe Folkslider” (1901) reads:
“Good health to you, my dear parents/I travel far away from you/God should give/Health and life/And to me a fortunate way.”
Hirschhorn’s addition of the “pig and potatoes” indicates he has done his homework. Columbia University professor Michael Stanislawski has argued that conscription (1825-1855), particularly under Tsar Nicholas I, spurred modernity among the Jews of the Russian Empire, years before Alexander II’s Great Reforms. Stanislawski argues that conscription destabilized traditional Jewish societies (shtetls), often even resulting in conversion to Orthodoxy. Jewish boys were often recruited at the age of 12, just a year before Bar Mitzvah — the Imperial reasoning being that the boys were more likely to turn away from the religious beliefs of their parents.
“Pork and potatoes” suggests to the perhaps unknowing reader this very dilemma. And, of course, we could easily set this tale not in the Russian Empire but on a weekend night of any traditional Jewish family, when a teenager might go outside his or her community into the largely non-kosher world. Apply it to the day a Jewish youth leaves home for college or to travel. Almost 200 years later, the dilemma remains hauntingly the same.
Hirschhorn touches on themes of revolution and transformation. As students of history understand, the Pale of Settlement was a hotbed of revolutionary ideas and movements. The Jewish Labor Bundt, Zionism, and Socialism all found supporters among Eastern Jewry looking for a way to reconcile the onset of modernity with the exacerbation of poverty and anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire.
“Sleep My Child, Sleep” coos:
“Sleep my child, sleep/When you grow older/you will understand the difference…Then you will become aware/what is poor and what is rich.”
It continues:
“The most lavish palaces, loveliest mansions/all are made by the poor man/but do you know who lives in them? Not he at all, but the rich man….the poor man lies in the cellar/Dampness drips from the walls/That is how he gets rheumatism/In his hands and in his feet.”
Hirschhorn’s version, more firmly titled “A Marxist Lullaby” is more succinct, more playful: “Palaces! Mansions!/Who builds them?/They do/lyu lyu lyu lyu lyu…Cellars for the likes of us/Bedbugs, roaches, mold…lyu lyu lyu lyu lyu.”
And, because these are after all Jewish poems, we can’t leave out those that evoke our feelings of familial guilt. In “A Yiddishe Mama Laments,” more prose than poetry, really, Hirschhorn (perhaps autobiographically) cries out:
“Me, who kissed his bruises…fed him meatloaf I didn’t eat myself…made him do his homework — so proud if he got an ‘A’….Then he runs off with a shiksa…by me, he’s dead already.”
The original, also titled “A Yiddishe Mama Laments,” reads:
“Through water and fire she’d run for her child/oh, how lucky and rich is the person who has/received this beautiful gift from God/Simply a dear old Yiddishe mama.”

Cantor Jossele (Yosef) Rosenblatt sings “My Yiddishe Mama.”

The fact that these are distinctly Jewish folksongs turned into poems, I would argue, makes them even more universal, more easily translatable across time and place. The fact that Yiddish more generally represents Judaism on the popular front (rather than its highbrow Hebrew counterpart) leads me to believe that Hirschhorn’s collection will certainly sing away the darkest days, even as we head into them as winter closes in on Seattle.


Jerusalem US LP
You must go see ‘Jerusalem’ at IMAX
Whether you've been there or it's still only a dream, National Geographic's new "Jerusalem" IMAX film will move you — and possibly cause you to book a flight.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted September 25, 2013

Despite the expense and the long travel time, most people consider Israel a place they’d love to visit. The historical significance of the country is enough to woo most anyone, regardless of cultural or religious backgrounds. It’s no surprise, then, that National Geographic would find Jerusalem worthy of its newest IMAX short film, simply titled “Jerusalem.”
With over 5,000 years of history to cover in the 45-minute film, “Jerusalem” took writer/director Daniel Ferguson and his crew five years and 15 trips to the holy city to complete. The film captures some of the most impressive city views and unique footage to ever appear on screen. It took nearly three years of wrestling with the Israeli government to even receive permission to fly over Jerusalem (a strict no-fly zone) in order to take panoramic shots of the city from above.
Narrated by British TV and film star Benedict Cumberbatch, “Jerusalem” works its way from the broader significance of the city throughout history, then narrows to life within the walls of the Old City. The film illustrates how this land, comprised of less than a square mile, has been the cradle of civilization and held up as the holiest place in the world for the vast majority of the religious population on earth.
The film follows three young women of the same age — Jewish, Muslim and Christian and virtually indistinguishable in ethnicity — living in Jerusalem. The personal stories of these girls, interwoven with the historical, scientific and religious story the city has told over thousands of years creates an intimacy that is second only to running your hands along the stones of Damascus Gate.
“Jerusalem” does not attempt to connect to the cultural struggles, study the socio-political reality of the country as a whole, or give an in-depth historical account of the city. Rather, for anyone who has been to Jerusalem, in 45 minutes the film manages to recreate a slice of that vibration, that indescribable feeling that washes over you upon approaching the Western Wall for the first time. For those who have never been, it certainly does a better job than your typical film from the Israel Ministry of Tourism. Though the goose bumps are surely IMAX-specific. On the small screen this film would lose much of its allure.
Describing Jerusalem through anecdotes does not to do justice. See “Jerusalem” and let National Geographic capture its essence for you.

 


“Jerusalem” premiers on the West Coast Friday, September 27 at the Pacific Science Center’s Boeing IMAX. For ticket information and show times visit http://www.pacificsciencecenter.org/IMAX-Theaters/Shows/Jerusalem

Variance Films
The Jewish romantic comedy that is neither romantic nor a comedy
Please, God, put Jewish romcoms out of their misery.
By Erin Pike · Posted September 24, 2013

Jewtopia is available through Video On-Demand on iTunes, Amazon, XBOX, Sony, Vudu, Google, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, DirecTV, Echostar, Cablevision, Verizon and TV.

Full disclosure: I dislike most romantic comedies. HOWEVER: There is a special, vulnerable, pillowy place in my heart for romcom gold, like “When Harry Met Sally” or “The Notebook” or straight-up Jew-ish romances like “Dirty Dancing.” When I see previews for romcoms, I’m all heavy-sighs and eye-rolling on the outside, but on the inside I’m penciling in the release date and hoping it might be the next “Before Sunset.” That is exactly what happened when I saw the trailer for “Jewtopia.” Deep down, a very private part of me wanted this film to be fun or at least cute or maybe make me cry a little. Unfortunately, it was neither of those things, and it didn’t.
The premise of “Jewtopia” (based on an off-Broadway play of the same name): Christian O’Connell (Ivan Sergei) is a gentile guy who dates a Jewish girl in college. He proposes to her at graduation and she dumps him because he’s not Jewish. He’s heartbroken. Years later, he’s working as a plumbing manager and still moping over his Jewish ex. One night, he happens to drive by a synagogue hosting a singles mixer, and since he has nothing to lose, decides to drop in and mingle. He ends up meeting Alison Marks (Jennifer Love Hewitt), the rabbi’s daughter, and makes up a Jewish name, Avi Rosenberg, so that she will think he is Jewish and agree to go out with him. Since he really likes Alison and wants it to work out, he enlists the aid of his only Jewish friend from childhood, Adam Lipschitz (Joel David Moore), to teach him how to “act Jewish” so he can “win” the girl. After that, the film’s potential falls flaccid in favor of offensive stereotypes and misogyny, coated in a thin layer of homophobia.
Let’s start with the offensive stereotypes. A few highlights: Christian’s non-Jewish family, the O’Connells, are portrayed as total hicks. His dad is in the marines, and his mom is nonexistent except for when she’s serving his dad food. They go hunting a lot. There’s some man-grunting, Tim Allen-style, and lots of camo print. Then there’s the Jewish families: Adam’s fiancé Hannah (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) is a crazy, neurotic gynecologist who’s completely obsessed with having a baby ASAP. Adam’s mom is similarly controlling and emotionally unstable, and Adam’s dad owns an embroidery company and shrugs his shoulders a lot at his domineering, opinionated wife.
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the random Asian fetishization. Adam is left emotionally scarred by a childhood memory: His mother’s negative response to a Chinese waitress who flirts with him while they are out to dinner. Later in the film (SPOILER ALERT), he goes crazy and runs out of his wedding rehearsal, leaving Hannah at the altar. While he is in therapy, he falls in love with his Mongolian therapist who reminds him of the Chinese waitress, because, get it? He’s always been into Asians!
Gender portrayals are no better than the rest of the stereotypes already presented: Adam and Christian are emotional infants who refuse to grow up. Adam repeatedly screams, “I’m not ready to be a man!” and Christian decides on pursuing a Jewish woman because “I never want to make another decision as long as I live,” while the women are frigid, nagging control-freaks who are always either crying or yelling.
But the misogynistic climax of this film occurs in a truly painful scene where Hannah and Adam are in bed. Hannah jumps on top of Adam for the sole purpose of needing to make a baby because, you know, women are only interested in sex when they want to make a baby. Cunnilingus is mentioned, and the fact that Adam never gives Hannah oral sex leads into Hannah screaming “You think it’s ugly, don’t you?” referring to her genitals. Adam stutters, insinuating that Hannah’s accusation is true. Hannah then runs into the bathroom where she grabs a mirror and, ostensibly for the first time, looks at her vagina and screams out in horror. This scene is the catalyst for an entire, unnecessary subplot where Hannah gets a vaginoplasty, which Adam wants nothing to do with, because women’s genitals are so gross! All of which, I might add, is so totally funny, because female shame and guilt about genitals is so not a real thing that affects the lives and stability of women everywhere.

If you haven’t been won over by my description of “Jewtopia” yet, just wait — there’s also homophobia. Adam and Christian are accused by their parents of being a secretly gay couple, which the parents find utterly horrifying, because nothing could possibly be more terrible or disappointing than a son being gay. The parents walk in on Adam nursing Christian’s circumcision wounds (that’s how serious Christian is about pretending to be Jewish), but this appears to the parents as Adam giving Christian a blowjob. Hilarious “You’re gay!” accusations followed by “OMG I’m not gay, I swear!” freak-outs ensue.
Here’s the thing: Jews appreciate seeing Jewish characters represented in media. It’s a comforting reminder that Jewish people exist in real life. I loved “A Simple Man.” I loved the Purim references in “For Your Consideration.” But what I don’t love is bullshit Jewish stereotypes being tossed on screen for a laugh. It’s not intelligent. It’s not honest. Most of all, it’s not real. These stereotypes do not accurately reflect the true complexity and diversity of the Jewish community.
If you love Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen-type humor, you might like this movie. But otherwise, save yourself the disappointment of hoping for a smart, sweet, Jewish romantic comedy, because “Jewtopia” isn’t it.


Dikla Tuchman
Robots and turtles and lasers, oh my!
"Board game designers and manufacturers tell me this would never fly on store shelves. Learning programming just sounds too complicated," says Dan Shapiro about his Kickstarter board game, Robot Turtles. "But I disagree."
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted September 19, 2013

You might recall a few months back, we wrote a story about local startup guru, Dan Shapiro, picked as one of our esteemed 10 under 40. During that interview, Shapiro shared with us a bit about the projects and new ventures he was currently undertaking, such as his O’Reilly book. At the time, some projects were still top secret and he wasn’t quite ready to talk about those. Lo and behold, it came as no surprise when we received word earlier this month that Shapiro was preparing to launch his first ever Kickstarter: A children’s board game called Robot Turtles.

At first glance, Robot Turtles is a fairly simple, colorful tabletop game for children 3–8 to play alongside an adult (most likely a parent). The premise of the game is to build a program that the beeping and booping robotic amphibian can follow in order to navigate the board and obtain the shiny robot jewel. What may not be overtly obvious to your little tikes is that while puzzling out how to best get their turtle from point A to point B, they are also learning the very basic mechanics of programming.

You (the grownup) set up a maze, filled with obstacles for the robot turtle to maneuver and make his way to the end goal. In order to get through that maze, the child (or “Turtle Master”) must start laying out cards that indicate how the turtle will proceed (go forward, turn left, turn right and so forth). The parent then follows those card instructions and attempts to move around the board. The success of the robot depends on the instructions given (or the program laid out) by the Turtle Master.

The simple programming mechanics that the game teaches are cleverly disguised. A successful, bug-free program will lead to acquiring the turtle jewel. The child can see clearly where the program’s success or failures happen, as they are fully in charge of creating the program. There are no penalties for inserting a “bug,” the turtle simply goes back and the bug must be fixed to continue creating a functional program.

Additional mechanics are “unlockable achievements,” (same concept that is found in modern video games) which take the form of new cards and tokens that can be incorporated into the game to increase its difficulty. These, of course, encourage players to challenge themselves to become more creative and optimize their programming. Oh, and did I mention that there are lasers in this game? Lasers, people. Lasers.

“I’ve had fun playing this with kids who are even over age eight who have experience with programming,” says Shapiro. With the added complexity that can be built into the game, Shapiro finds that older children still find the game challenging and fun.

When creating the game, Shapiro kept in mind some goals including teaching kids the fundamentals of logic, programming and spatial relationships. But first and foremost, he wanted this game to be what he refers to as “quality time in a box.”

“This [idea] didn’t come from, ‘How can I teach my kids programming?’ It came from ‘How can I have a great time with my kids today?’ And then how can I put that in a box, so when I’m tired and I wanna do something, it’s not ‘let’s pull out the tablet’ or ‘let’s color together.’ I wanted something really engaged and involved. Because you can’t be disconnected from your kids when you play this game,” says Shapiro.

Over three months ago, Shapiro was able to take leave from Google and began the nitty-gritty work of launching his own Kickstarter campaign, based on the idea that he came up with for his 4-year-old twins. Like other independent game designers whose idea doesn’t quite fit the requisites to be manufactured by the big guys, he wanted to be sure he wasn’t producing tons of copies of a game that would ultimately sit in his garage in the shrink-wrap. At a price point of $29 for the game, Shapiro set a goal of $25,000 to see if the game would appeal to at least 1,000 consumers. To his surprise and excitement, not only were people interested, the Kickstarter funded within five hours of going live. With only a week left to go, Robot Turtles is over 1000 percent funded. I think it’s safe to say people are interested in a game that they can play with their young kids that just so happens to teach programming.

“Honestly, nobody was more surprised than I was,” says Shapiro.

And now that the Kickstarter is almost over, the real work begins with manufacturing and following through with all those wonderful pledge level prizes. “It’s a lot of fun; I’ve been having a great time making the game,” says Shapiro. “It’s going to be made in America, which we’re excited about. I’ve got almost 500 games going to other countries along with volunteers translating it into about 25 languages.”

Through the Kickstarter’s “updates” section, Shapiro has been able to share additional news, stretch goals, and most notably, stories of the incredible response from parents and kids. There are few options out there that allow parents and small children to connect on this sort of level together through playing a board game and the response by the communities that this game targets has been tremendous.

Like most Kickstarter projects, Robot Turtles is an extremely limited release. Once the Kickstarter is over on September 27 at 8 p.m., it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get ahold of the game. Shapiro plans on completing the game, shipping it out to arrive in households by Christmas, and then he’s on to his next venture. So, with just a week to go and nearly 800 left in stock, now might be a good time to grab a copy of Robot Turtles for your kids, friends’ kids, or heck, even for your favorite school library.

We’ll leave you with this goofy, adorable video that Shapiro made for the Kickstarter. Chag sameach!


Israeli superstar Eran Zur in Seattle this weekend
Most Americans may not know about Eran Zur, but due to valiant efforts the Israeli community is bringing him here, just for us.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted September 18, 2013

Eran Zur - Intimate Show in Seattle
Saturday, September 21, 2013 at the Bellevue Youth Theatre, 16661 Northup Way
Doors at 7 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Advanced $40 general admission; $20 for students/teens (10-25 years old)
$50 at the door for adult; $25 for students/teens

These days, it’s a rare occasion that a performance by popular Israeli rock icon Eran Zur might be enjoyed in a small, intimate setting like a pub or nightclub. In Israel, big names like his are headliners at large amphitheaters seating thousands of adoring fans.

As luck would have it, Seattle Israeli arts producer, Nurit Asnash, has managed to create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local Israeli music lovers: An intimate performance by Zur this Saturday night in Bellevue. Saturday’s show produced especially for Seattle will feature Zur performing an array of his best work over the last 30 years.

In Zur’s impressive repertoire are five solo albums and numerous hit songs, including “Kayitz” (Summer), “Parparei Ta’atua” (Butterflies’ Mirage), “BeLeilot Shel Yareach Maleh” (In the Night of the Full Moon), “Tmunah Impressiyonistit” (Impressionist Painting). His most recent album, “All That is Human,” was released in June 2010.

Last year, Anash tried bringing Zur, along with Korin Allal, to Seattle by launching a Kickstarter to raise the necessary funds, but didn’t quite make her goal. Having realized that trying to bring both artists out for one concert was not financially feasible, Asnash focused on bringing out Zur alone.

“I’ve been [in Seattle] for 12 years,” says Asnash. “Many Israelis know him very well. I try to bring those artists that have been playing for 20–30 years who will appeal to all different generations.”

Zur is known for his charismatic style and range, as his songs vary from jazz to rock to classical. Asnash recalls her first time seeing Zur in concert years ago when she was a student in Israel. He had been the opening act for a larger, more popular band at the time. “My friends and I saw him perform and we were just electrified,” recalls Asnash. “When the featured artist came on, we left.”

While Zur doesn’t exactly fall into the category as “the hottest thing in Israel right now,” Asnash finds greater success bringing out a well-known artist whose work spans at least a decade.

“There are a lot of young artists, but not as many people out here know the younger artists,” says Asnash. And while Zur may not be The Idan Raichel Project, he resonates for Israeli music appreciators of any age.
If intimate, unique musical performances are your thing, then check out this concert. Tickets are still available at Brown Paper Tickets or at the door on Saturday night.

“Eye of the Storm” from Eran Zur’s 2010 album release, “All That is Human”


Courtesy HBO
Not another home video
Alan Berliner's documentaries sift through the detritus of their subject's personal lives to get to the source.
By Michael Fox · Posted September 16, 2013

“First Cousin Once Removed” premieres on HBO September 23.

One of the highest compliments to Alan Berliner’s skill is that no one has ever described his revealing personal documentaries as “home movies.”

From “Intimate Stranger” (1991), a fascinating family portrait centered around his maternal grandfather, to “First Cousin Once Removed,” his incisive new ode to the memory-robbed final years of beloved poet and mentor Edwin Honig, the New York filmmaker’s meticulously crafted portraits of American Jews are also brilliant evocations of universal experiences.

Berliner’s documentaries are chock-a-block with love, disappointment, tough decisions, failed relationships, curdled resentment and underlying compassion. Humor and irony abound, especially in his profound 1996 interview-slash-boxing match with his father, “Nobody’s Business.”

“Because I travel around the world with my films, I often feel like an emissary for Judaism,” Berliner says on the phone from his Lower Manhattan studio. “I’m not an exemplary Jewish filmmaker, but my films are Jewish in subtext and by innuendo. My father doesn’t talk much about religion in ‘Nobody’s Business’ but he couldn’t be anything but Jewish. I’ve received more than one email [over the years] that said, ‘Your film made me want to be Jewish.’”

So much for the old fear that exposing conflicts within the Jewish community—or worse yet, the family—to the general public was “bad for the Jews.” Berliner’s films, all of which have aired on PBS or HBO, have contributed to a wider appreciation of Jews as part of the fabric of America. 

First Cousin Once Removed,” which received the top prize at last winter’s prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), premieres Monday, Sept. 23 on HBO.

An unflinching and often uncomfortable look at a man of letters (and words) overtaken by Alzheimer’s, it is the most demanding of Berliner’s trio of films about his family.

“You could say it’s raw and honest, but ‘First Cousin Once Removed’ especially is a labor of love,” Berliner says. “I’m daring to show the love, daring to go where the love and the care allows me to go. If that’s Jewishness, OK, capital J. Because I’m not in someone else’s family universe. I’m not a visitor in someone else’s house here. I’m inside the culture of my family.”

That dynamic allows for ready identification by Jewish audiences with the people in Berliner’s films. From the filmmaker’s standpoint, the territory is fraught with a certain freedom, and enormous responsibility.

“Each film reflects my comfort level, and the culture of intimacy and the culture of communication and the culture of caring and investigation,” Berliner explains. “I’m investigating the ethos of my family. And an important part of that, by implication, is its Jewishness. How being Jewish has created the possibility for these characters to exist, and the lines of communication. And that gives me the courage and the confidence and the strength to make these kinds of investigations regardless of where they go.”

Berliner started out making experimental nonfiction shorts in the mid-1970s. His first long-form work, “The Family Album” (1986), constructed a birth-to-death collage of American lives out of old home movies and audio interviews. He made the leap to turning the camera on himself in “The Sweetest Sound” (2001), which dealt with names and identity, and “Wide Awake” (2007), in which Berliner catalogs and confronts his lifelong insomnia.

“My whole artistic life has been dedicated to trying to find extraordinary opportunities to get to the bottom of things, to approach the essence of human fragility,” the filmmaker says.

That might sound clinical, and perhaps depressing, to someone who’s never seen a Berliner film. To the contrary, his obsessively edited and wonderfully artistic documentaries encompass life and human relationships in all their facets.

In “First Cousin Once Removed,” Berliner flips between the present, the recent past and the distant past, continually peeling back layers of Edwin Honig’s identity. It’s a true character study, encompassing the poet, translator and professor’s accomplishments and failings.

“If there’s another imperative that guides me more than anything, it’s the pursuit of irony,” Berliner muses. “I though I was making a film about Alzheimer’s and memory loss, but I was making a film about a man who has a lot to forget. It’s really about the importance of forgetting.

“I think there’s something Jewish about that,” says Berliner, who recently received the Freedom of Expression Award at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. “It’s not unlike a midrash: You take something and you go over it a thousand times trying to get to the bottom of something that has no end. The conundrums and paradoxes only make it richer.”


Yissachar Ruas
Israeli Knesset members get an education in American Jewry
Are Israelis finally listening to America's conflicted Jewish community?
By Rachel Marder/JNS.org · Posted September 11, 2013

Israeli Member of Knesset Nachman Shai (Labor), who studied and worked in the U.S. for years, says he had no idea how much the 25-year-old prayer rights group Women of the Wall mattered to North American Jews—until he went there on a recent outreach trip.
“We were shocked to see how important women praying at the Kotel was,” Shai says in an interview with JNS.org. “For average Israelis it’s not such a big issue.”
“Wherever we went [in North America] we heard about the Kotel as if it was the center of the world,” he adds.
The Labor lawmaker is now chairing a caucus in the Knesset to strengthen ties between U.S. and Israeli Jews, and between American and Israeli lawmakers. He says he now realizes the misconceptions Israelis have about American Jews, the changing perceptions Americans have of Israel, and the harm that both factors can have on the countries’ relationship.
The caucus, launched in June, is working to recruit a cohort of Members of Knesset (MKs) to participate in its third delegation to the U.S., a five-day trip to Boston and New York City in March sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation and Brandeis University. The trips, which previously took place in 2011 and 2012, are designed to give MKs a crash course in American Jews and their relationship to Israel, and to strengthen Congress’s ties to the Jewish state.
Previous visits have included meetings with politicians like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, members of Congress, Brandeis academics, rabbis from across the denominational spectrum, and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and J Street leaders. In previous trips, MKs have discussed such thorny subjects with American lawmakers as whether the $3 billion in aid Israel receives from the U.S. each year is always guaranteed.
The idea behind the initiative, Ruderman Family Foundation President Jay Ruderman says, is to show Israelis the diversity that exists in American Jewry and that community’s unique challenges when it comes to issues like intermarriage, conversion, and creating space for both criticizing and supporting Israel. 
In particular, Israelis, Ruderman says, should learn how to connect with this conflicted generation of American Jews, which is different from previous ones.
“If Israel turns off that community, strategically they’re going to be in real tough shape,” says Ruderman, a former deputy director of AIPAC who made aliyah in 2005. 
“When I moved to Israel and I worked for AIPAC here, I got to know MKs and ministers personally. I realized that they did not have not only the same understanding of the American Jewish community and its role, but they didn’t really have an interest in it,” he says.
Shai, who served as press secretary for the Israeli delegation to the U.N. in 1979 and was named press consultant to the Israeli Embassy in Washington in 1981, says the U.S.-Israel relationship cannot be taken for granted. He hopes the Knesset caucus will create a bridge between Congress and the Israeli legislature, since no official parliamentary friendship group for dialogue between the two bodies exists, as it does for 100 other nations and Congress.
The caucus opened in June in conjunction with the release of poll results in which 31.9 percent of Israeli respondents said their leaders should not take into account the positions of American Jews on the peace process at all, while 33.6 percent said U.S. Jewry’s views should be considered to a small extent. Only 21.6 percent called for those views to be taken into account to a great extent, and 9.4 percent said the views should be considered to a very great extent. The poll was conducted by Teleseker and commissioned by the Ruderman Foundation.
Regarding conversion and the Israeli government’s relationship with the Conservative and Reform movements, 24 percent of Israelis opposed taking U.S. Jewry’s positions into account, while 30.6 percent said they should be considered to a small extent. Meanwhile, 25.1 percent supported the government considering U.S. Jewry’s views to a great extent.
Israeli Jews still value the lobbying efforts by American Jews on behalf of Israel, according to the poll, which found that 66.3 percent see the Jewish community in the U.S. as having a very or somewhat positive influence on Israel’s national security. Unlike Shai and Ruderman, who say American Jewry’s support for Israel is changing and in need of work, 76 percent of Israelis polled believe support for Israel in the future will remain at the level it is today or even grow stronger. But they are not optimistic about U.S. Jewry’s personal connection to the Jewish state, with 51 percent responding that half or less than half of U.S. Jews feel a meaningful connection. 
Prof. Steven Cohen, a researcher of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, believes the poll “speaks to the lack of understanding by Israelis of American Jews, but it’s an understandable lack of understanding.”
“Those Israelis who reject American Jewish participation in various decisions of national importance tend to believe that such decisions are best left in the hands of Israelis alone—either Israelis have exclusive standing, or they have better information,” Cohen writes in an email to JNS.org.
Cohen posits that attitudes would be changed by increased travel by American Jews to Israel, and by Israelis to American Jewish settings. He also suggests that Israeli policymakers inject greater sensitivity into areas of political importance to American Jews, such as the treatment of non-Orthodox rabbis, raising the status of women, extending better government services to non-Jews, and addressing Israel’s presence in the West Bank.
“All would work to improve Israel’s image among non-Orthodox Jews, but they also risk alienating Orthodox American Jews. The choices are difficult for sure,” Cohen writes.
Ruderman is more optimistic about the poll’s results. “What I take away from that poll is actually that the Israeli public is pretty sophisticated in terms of the American Jewish community. They may not know it that well but they certainly understand its importance,” he says.
Yet Ruderman worries about the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship in light of the different trajectories the Jewish communities have taken, as well as Israelis’ lack of knowledge when it comes to their American brethren. While projects like Taglit-Birthright Israel address Israeli-Diaspora ties by connecting young American Jews to Israel, and Israel’s Foreign Ministry sends Israeli officials to the U.S. to discuss the Jewish state’s security challenges, Ruderman says no one was educating Israeli leaders on American Jews before his foundation undertook the project.
“The American Jewish community should have been doing it all along,” he says. “It’s a huge oversight by the leadership of our community.”
Israeli leaders “who represent the only Jewish country in the world” should understand the American Jewish community, which has “undue influence in ensuring [Israel’s] future existence,” Ruderman adds.
The foundation is banking on the outcome that the MKs it sends to the U.S. will become real decision-makers—ministers, or even the prime minister—in the future. But that is “a little bit of a risk,” Ruderman acknowledges. Of the 11 MKs who went on the two trips sponsored by the foundation, only six remain in the Knesset.
“We are hoping [the trip] will make a difference in their careers,” he says.

 


Courtesy Michael Natkin
A new twist on noodles
Food writer Michael Natkin challenges "noodle orthodoxy" in this delicious, late summer veggie dish - perfect for an evening in the sukkah.
By Michael Natkin · Posted September 10, 2013

Cooking pasta by the absorption method instead of boiling in a gallon of salted water may seem scary if you grew up with noodle orthodoxy, but it actually works great and can be a big time saver. You don’t have to wait for water to boil, and you don’t necessarily have two pots to clean at the end, if you design your sauce and condiment to be built in with the pasta.
For this recipe, I toast the capellini in the oven first. This is characteristic of how pasta is handled in Spain, Mexico (where they are called fideos), and the Middle East. I enjoy the additional browned flavors. You can do this while preparing and sautéing your vegetables.
The flavor of this dish is quite assertive, with substantial quantities of red wine, black pepper, smoked paprika and garlic. It isn’t one I would necessarily recommend for young children or those who prefer milder tastes.
Because we are cooking tomatoes and zucchini along with the noodles, you’ll need less initial liquid than you might expect. Instead, we’ll have you check along the way and add more as needed. Also note that we reserve some of the tomatoes for garnish. I love to include an ingredient both fresh and raw in the same dish so we get to experience the full range of its flavors.

Peppery Red Wine Capellini
Vegetarian and vegan
Serves 4 as a main course
1 lb. capellini (angel hair) noodles
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lbs. zucchini, 1/2” dice
1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2” lengths
1.5 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, divided
1 Tbs. smoked paprika (pimenton de la vera)
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbs. fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
salt to taste
1 1/4 cups red wine (Tempranillo is a nice choice)
lots of minced fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Break the capellini into approximately 3” lengths. Toast on a baking sheet tossing occasionally with tongs, for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a large pot with a lid (at least 5.5 quarts), heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Cook the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes, allowing them only to soften and grow aromatic, but not burn. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the zucchini and another pinch of salt. Sauté, browning until the noodles come out of the oven.
Add the noodles on top of the zucchini mixture. Put the asparagus and two-thirds of the cherry tomatoes on top of that and sprinkle in the smoked paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano and rosemary. Pour the red wine and 1 1/4 cups of water over the top. Toss as best you can with tongs, but it will be hard at first because the noodles are stiff. Return the heat to medium and cover.
Every 3 minutes, remove the top and toss. The total cooking time will probably be about 8-12 minutes. Toward the end, taste a noodle each time you remove the top to see if it is done. If not, and there isn’t any moisture left on the bottom, add a bit more wine or water (maybe 1/3 cup).
When the noodles are done to your liking, make any final adjustments to the seasoning and transfer to serving bowls. Garnish with the remaining uncooked cherry tomatoes and parsley, and another grind of fresh black pepper.


Dear Adira: Am I Jewish?
In our second installment of useful Jew-ish advice, Perplexed in Seattle wants to know who's a Jew.
By Erin Pike · Posted September 03, 2013

Dear Adira,
My dad is Jewish, does that make me Jewish? I identify with the culture and customs but it seems like it has to come from my mom’s side.
Perplexed
Seattle

Yeah, in my book, you’re Jewish. But just for good measure, let’s ask a rabbi!
Here’s an answer from Rabbi Aaron Meyer from Temple De Hirsch Sinai:
“I am delighted to hear your connection with the culture and customs of Judaism. Issues of status and identity in the Jewish community are often emotionally fraught and never “one size fits all,” so I would encourage you to call a local rabbi to discuss your specific situation. Many I know would be delighted to join you for a cup of coffee and good conversation, myself included! Within Conservative and Orthodox communities, Judaism is understood to be passed through one’s mother – or conferred as part of a formal conversion process. That said, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism recognize as Jewish the child of one Jewish parent, father or mother, as long as that lineage is coupled with positive and timely acts of Jewish practice and affiliation with Jewish community. So…where does that leave you? Let’s talk!”

 


Creative Commons/Mary and the Baby Cheeses
The High Price of Fashion, and Other New Year’s Resolutions
If you really want to repair the world, look in the mirror — at your clothes.
By Cameron Levin · Posted September 02, 2013

Why should we care about our attire when we, on the Holiest Days of the year, should be reflecting upon our actions over the past 365 days? It may seem superficial at the very time when our thoughts should be introspective and meaningful. The thing is that clothing is not superficial — not at all. Clothing, is in fact, very Jewishly relevant, particularly when we think about tikkun olam (repair of the world).

Growing conventional cotton requires heavy and wasteful irrigation and accounts for almost 3 percent of the world’s yearly water usage. In what’s becoming a water-scarce world — particularly scarce Israel and the Middle East — the purchase of that button-up shirt suddenly isn’t so innocuous. The collapse of the Savar garment factory in Bangladesh this past April (the world’s deadliest garment-industry accident in history) compounds how today’s fashion industry can be the very converse of Judaism’s moral pillars.

When we stand listening to our rabbi sermonize in the upcoming weeks, it is unlikely that we will be provoked to examine our clothing choices and how they may impact the world. However, what we wear has tremendous social, cultural, and environmental effects. Fast-fashion purchases of those easily disposable non-organic, pesticide-sprayed cotton garments consume, on average, 500 gallons of water to produce (1,800 for denim jeans), that which is likely to end up in land fills in rural Africa (averaging 12 million pounds a year). Conventional cotton crops in the United States are dusted every year with millions of pounds of toxic chemicals, including cancer-causing pesticides. Even in the bleaching and finishing process of cotton, it is common practice to employ harsh and deadly chemicals like chlorine and formaldehyde. Research shows that the use of synthetic fertilizers, additives, defoliants and other substances used in growing conventional cottons can irrevocably damage soil, pollute water systems and sicken living beings. Not exactly “repairing the world.”

Another thing to feel guilty about — just what we need!

But we can do something. We can redirect our consumption patterns to support “sustainable” clothing, which can mean clothes are reused, repurposed, or constructed from eco-friendly materials like hemp, organic cotton, or bamboo. But my advice is to invest in clothing that is built to last. If it’s constructed to last for decades, then chances are that it’s made with superior fabrics, and in factories with sewing production teams that prioritize time, energy, and artisanship above a fast buck. We can also research boutique brands that produce locally, or in countries with ethical manufacturing standards, and patronize family-owned business that support and curate such clothiers.

A few of my favorite brands that embody the aforementioned practices of conscientious craftsmanship are Italian designers Luciano Barbera and Crossley, both of which are exclusively available at Butch Blum in downtown Seattle (family-owned, 39 years strong). These collections are considered forever pieces that are the glistening gem of any wardrobe because of their impeccable craftsmanship (Barbera is mostly handmade in Biella, Italy), innovative and sustainable sourcing techniques (Crossley recycles fabric by shredding used sweaters, spinning the fiber into yarn, and knits them into garments on location), and design integrity.

If you thought I’d make suggestions about what to wear to synagogue for the holidays, well, I was going to. I realized, however, that what’s most interesting about fashion is less about ephemeral trends and “what to wear,” and more about “what to think.” Conscientious style is always in fashion.


Cameron is an eco-friendly fashion designer (LoveCameron.com), the in-residence designer at Butch Blum, and freelance editorial stylist for various corporate retailers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Larry Hirshowitz
Jew-ish: The weekend guide
Everyone's hunkering down and saving their energy for the holidays. If you need to get out, check out the Jewish comedy lineup at Bumbershoot.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted August 29, 2013

Film

When Comedy Went to School
Closes this weekend
Ever wonder why so many comedians are Jewish? “When Comedy Went to School” tries to answer this question by capturing the voices, stories and jokes of Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl, Jerry Stiller, and others, and by touring the Borscht Belt, that upstate New York summer breeding grounds for Jewish comic genius. Not rated. Check out our review here.
For one week only at the Landmark Varsity Theatre, 4329 University Way NE, Seattle.

Blue Jasmine
There’s nothing Jewish in Woody Allen’s latest feature (*sigh of relief*) except maybe Michael Stuhlberg’s brief role as a nerdy, inappropriate dentist, but Blue Jasmine is pretty awesome. Deluded, broke, pathetic and usually drunk “Jasmine” (Janet, actually) crashes with her trashy sister in San Francisco after her high-society life falls apart. In Greek tragedy style, every character rides Fortune’s wheel, and when you land on the last scene you’ll be mad that you have to get off the ride. Stunning performances by Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, and others.
At various theaters.

World War Z
They’re undead, flesh-eating zombies, but are they good for the Jews? That’s the current debate around “World War Z,” which takes place partly in Jerusalem and features a tough Israeli sidekick to Brad Pitt’s character. It’s either the most pro-Israel, or most anti-Semitic movie ever made, depending on which side you fall on, or if you care.
At theaters around Seattle, check here for showtimes.

Arts

Creating a New Northwest
Through October 6
Young and on a budget, Seattleites Herb and Lucy Pruzan started populating their home with local art in the 1950s, never knowing that their home would become a veritable museum one day. Now through October, some of the Pruzans’ pieces will be on display at the Tacoma Art Museum in an exhibit titled “Creating a New Northwest.” Read the story in JTNews here!
At the Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave. $9. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun.

Comedy

It’s Jews gone wild at Bumbershoot. By our Jewdar’s calculations, five comedians are of the persuasion.
Marc Maron: “My parents were the first generation of Jews who moved as far away from their parents as possible for reasons other than fleeing a country.”
Sat. at 1 p.m., Sun. at 8 p.m. at Comedy at the Playhouse. Sun. at 4:45 p.m. at Comedy at the Bagley.
Emily Heller (she’s billed by her dad as half-Jewish, but close enough): Sun. at 2:45 p.m. and Mon. at 8 p.m. at Comedy at the Playhouse.
Mike Drucker (at least I think he’s Jewish, based on persnickety asides in his act): Sat. at 6:15 p.m., Sun. at 4:30 p.m. and Mon. at 2:45 p.m. at Comedy at the Playhouse.
Julie Klausner (a live recording of her weekly podcast): “Nothing brings a family closer on Christmas day than two Jews in a car.”
Sat. at 4:45 p.m. at Comedy at the Bagley.
Judah Friedlander: Okay, so the guy comes off as Italian — at least on TV. But dang if he ain’t hilarious. He is, after all, the champion of the world. Sun. at 6:15 p.m. and Mon. at 1 p.m. at Comedy at the Playhouse.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

The Parsha is Nitzavim-Vayelekh
Candlelighting is at 7:35 p.m.
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


Judy Lash Balint
The rabbi and the rapper
Most Orthodox rabbis who earn the title “emeritus” retire to a quiet life of teaching and learning and visiting the sick. Emeritus Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, who recently retired after decades of service to Seattle’s Sephardic Bikur Holim congregation, does all of those activities, but now has a new and distinctly unorthodox career—as vocal accompanist to popular rapper Nissim.
By Judy Lash Balint/JNS.org · Posted August 28, 2013

Most Orthodox rabbis who earn the title “emeritus” retire to a quiet life of teaching and learning and visiting the sick. Emeritus Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, who recently retired after decades of service to Seattle’s Sephardic Bikur Holim congregation, does all of those activities, but now has a new and distinctly unorthodox career—as vocal accompanist to popular rapper Nissim.
Nissim, formerly known in Seattle rap circles as D. Black, was getting serious about converting to Judaism when he first heard Rabbi Benzaquen chanting Kiddush after Shabbat services several years ago. “I was blown away by his powerful voice,” says Nissim, who converted last year with his family under the Orthodox tutelage of Rabbi Benzaquen.
Fast forward to Memorial Day 2013, and the newly retired rabbi and newly observant 26-year-old rapper were appearing together on stage at the popular Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in eastern Washington, alongside stars like Elvis Costello and Mumford and Sons.
Spanish-born Rabbi Benzaquen, decked out in his usual rabbinic uniform of smart white shirt, black tie and suit and black hat, intersperses Hebrew verses over several of Nissim’s numbers. The young crowd of rap fans shows their approval by dancing and waving in rhythm.
Since then, Rabbi Benzaquen, who studied at prestigious yeshivot in the UK and has smicha from The Rabbinical Academy of Marseille, France, has joined Nissim on stage at gigs that include a Seattle live music club and the Capitol Hill Block Party, an annual showcase of the Pacific Northwest’s best bands and DJs.
All through his career as a congregational rabbi in Westcliff, England, Maracaibo, Venezuela, and Seattle, Rabbi Benzaquen put his training in chazzanut from London’s Jews College to good use, but he never expected his recording debut to be on a rap album.
“I used to dismiss rap completely,” says Rabbi Benzaquen in his Spanish-accented English. “I thought it was inflammatory, full of four-letter words and derogatory towards women. But now I feel that rap has got a bad rap! It’s the African American expression of everyday life.”
“Think about the Torah when it wants to teach us something,” he explains, “it’s often through shira: song or poetry. That’s what stays with you. That’s why rap can be powerful today and convey a positive message.”
In a cut called “Sores” on the forthcoming album due for release mid-September, Rabbi Benzaquen does a moving voice-over of Hebrew verses from Psalms, set to his own haunting melody, as Nissim raps two stories, one about African American oppression and another about a Jew suffering during the Holocaust.
“Nobody captures emotion like Rabbi Benzaquen,” Nissim says of his mentor’s vocal talent.
For his part, Rabbi Benzaquen exclaims passionately in response, “There are no two peoples who should be more connected than African Americans and Jews. We could learn a lot from each other.”
Both Nissim and the rabbi see their music as an opportunity to positively impact the world. “I feel a mission to help bring back unity between the African American and Jewish communities who were so close during the civil rights movement,” says Rabbi Benzaquen.
“My main point is to elevate the world,” Nissim tells JNS.org. “I have 3-4 minutes of someone’s time, and I don’t want to waste it. I want to say something to help them; to help them think about their lives and get past the struggles,” he says.
But for some in the modern Orthodox community of South Seattle, Nissim’s presence in the community has proven to be a way to re-inspire their own members.
“When I first met him, I saw that Nissim had the potential to outreach to members of our community who normally wouldn’t take Judaism seriously, such as the teens and young adults who have stopped coming to synagogue. There’s nothing more inspiring to born Jews than converts who take Judaism seriously. As a hip hop rapper, and someone who’s worked with disadvantaged teens, Nissim was a natural, and the youth and young adults were immediately drawn to him, his knowledge of Judaism, and his natural emunah,” explains community activist Rick Eskenazi, a veteran member of Rabbi Benzaquen’s congregation.
Rick and a number of Seattle youth from the congregation and the local day school and yeshiva high school have accompanied Nissim and the rabbi to their shows and feature in several of Nissim’s new videos.
Along with the forthcoming album, Nissim’s future plans include a November visit to Israel for some intense Jewish learning and a possible benefit appearance for the Beit Shemesh Educational Center for disadvantaged boys.
It’s probably safe to say that Rabbi Benzaquen, a long-time member of the Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle, who is also a certified mohel, sofer, shochet, chazan and accomplished ketubah artist, is the only retired Orthodox rabbi who can add “rapper” to his resume.


Dikla Tuchman
Jew-ish Seattle: Simply successful
In our newest feature, Jew-ish Seattle, Jew-ish.com writers scope out events around the city, bringing you all the relevant details: Who was there, what they wear, and why you should care. Dikla leads us off with a report on last week's J-Pro meetup.
By Dikla Tuchman · Posted August 27, 2013

Citizen Bar is a quaint local cafe by day turned beer-and-wine-serving hipster hangout by night in Queen Anne. At first glance, Citizen is what appears to be a typically quiet, low-key space. But last Thursday evening, J-Pro, Seattle’s Jewish young professionals networking group, descended upon the upstairs loft in full force for their monthly mix-and-mingle happy hour. Judging by the high turnout of this month’s gathering, J-Proers were especially psyched to hear what guest of honor, local tech entrepreneur, Adam Schoenfeld, had to say.

As elbows poured over the railing, the aroma of fresh made crepes in the air, Schoenfeld took center stage (or more accurately, squeezed into the center of the sweaty crowd and spoke up). Schoenfeld began by relaying the epic story of his startup’s humble beginnings, his harrowing tail filled with quippy anecdotes.

When the startup, well, started up, Schoenfeld and co-founders had no formulated idea and no business plan. In fact, at its inception, the registered name of Schoenfeld’s company was (no joke) “Untitled Startup Incorporated.”

With the help of what is commonly referred to in the startup world as an “angel investor,” the company hit the ground running with $150,000 in venture capital. From there, Schoenfeld and his colleagues solidified their idea by talking with social media managers, who, at that time, were having trouble gathering their data. At first, people weren’t sure about the idea. Gradually, things came together, the messaging of the company became clearer and Untitled Startup, Inc. began formalizing their company strategy, goals, pay, and so on.

Now, Simply Measured is a well-recognized player in the social media analytics market, serving top brands like American Express, AOL, Samsung, Microsoft, Pepsi, Major League Soccer — over 30 percent of the top 100 global brands, serving more than 60,000 users. A Seattle-based team of 70 employees, Simply Measured has received venture funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, MHS Capital, and several leading angel funds from across the country.

After Schoenfeld spoke, J-Proers pelted him with questions. “Who did your first check come from?” asked one audience member. Answer: “A market research company from Australia. I actually sold a product we didn’t have yet. I couldn’t believe she bought it! The check was for $225 a month for our service (again, which didn’t even exist yet).”

Another attendee asked, “Why Seattle?”

“There are some disadvantages and advantages to being in Seattle,” answered Schoenfeld. “We were already here, so that’s an advantage. But, there’s more venture capitol in the Bay Area (Silicon Valley). Although, it’s also more expensive and there more competition there. We’ve stayed here to build, recruit, etc. But, the Bay Area is still more aggressive.”

As a software developer and professed lover of “Jews, tech and startups,” Ben Gilbert was drawn to this month’s J-Pro happy hour as it promised all three. “Adam was real about how hard it is, a lot of people romanticize startup life,” says Gilbert. “He was also very real and human.”

Out of her wheelhouse, Sound Transit dispatcher Eva Jakubowitz came to the event as a curious outsider, confessing she knows nothing about the tech industry. “The angel investor piece really spoke to me,” says Jakubowitz.” Here’s someone who’s willing to give $150,000 to something great. I didn’t think that was possible; it’s really inspiring!”

Schoenfeld’s success story is an exceptional one in the startup world, where failure is prevalent. Part of the equation, he said, is commitment.

“We like what we’re doing,” he said. “You really have to ask yourself at the end of the day: Do you actually want to keep doing this? Is this still good or too hard? Do I still like doing this?”

As happy hour wound down and wine bottles emptied, the buzz of a promising future for the Seattle tech startup community followed handfuls of young Jewish professionals out the door and into the warm summer night.


Everything you need to know about High Holidays around Seattle
So you can't say you didn't know where High Holiday services were going on.
By Emily K. Alhadeff · Posted August 26, 2013

Need a place to spend your High Holidays? We’ve got a compilation of services across the state, and they’re all happy to welcome you in. Please contact the individual congregation for tickets or any further information.

Holiday times

Erev Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 3. Candlelighting 7:25 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Thursday, September 4. Candlelighting after 8:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashana Second Day: Friday, September 5. Candlelighting 7:21 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur: Friday, September 13. Candlelighting 7:07 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Saturday, September 14. Fast ends 8:13 p.m.

Greater Seattle

Conservative

Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE, Seattle
Contact: Heidi Piel at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-524-0075 or bethshalomseattle.org
Tickets are $200 for non-members.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Prospective member open house 5:45-6:45 p.m. Meet Rabbi Jill Borodin, eat some apples and honey, and stay for services, 6:15-7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Traditional Rosh Hashanah service in a vibrant and spiritually energetic environment. They provide special programming for families with children pre-K and K and 1st-5th grade as well as activities for those under 5. Tashlich: 5:30 p.m. Gather at Ravenna Park for a traditional Tashlich service.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30 p.m. Erev Yom Kippur Mincha. Kol Nidre follows, including the traditionally haunting sounds of the cello.
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m. Appropriately solemn Yom Kippur prayer services for exploring the soul, complemented by learning and engagement to engage the mind and expand the heart. Includes family services for children in 1st-5th grade and programs for children under 5. Final shofar at 8:10 p.m. and break-fast meal at 8:20 p.m.

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island
Contact: Rebecca Levy at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-232-8555, ext. 207 or http://www.h-nt.org
Tickets $50 per person for each holiday.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6-7 p.m.
Jewish New Year Rockin’ Eve: 3-4 p.m. For preschool and kindergarten families (open to non-members). Led by Rabbi Jill Levy and Chava Mirel.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Main sanctuary service 8:15 a.m.-6 p.m. Inquire for pricing.
Youth and family service: 1st-5th grade: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Preschool and kindergarten: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Family Tashlich: 12:45 p.m. 6th-8th grade: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 9th-12th grade: 12:45-1:30 p.m.
Parallel service: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Mercerwood Shore Club, 4150 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Family service, 1st–5th grade and 6th–12th grade: 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:45 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Inquire for pricing.
Youth and family service: 6:30 p.m. 1st–5th grade family service: 7:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9:40 a.m.– 8:06 p.m. Main sanctuary service. Inquire for pricing.
Parallel service: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. At Mercerwood Shore Club, 4150 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island.
Youth and Family Programs: Preschool and kindergarten: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. 1st–5th grade: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 9th–12th grade: 10:15-11 a.m. 6th–8th grade: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Reconstructionist

Kadima
Meets at Prospect Church, 1919 E Prospect St., Seattle.
Kadima’s High Holy Days services are Reconstructionist, progressive, interactive, and lay led. Free. Donations accepted.
Contact: Kathy Gallagher at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-547-3914 or http://www.kadima.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Children’s service: 10-11 a.m. Potluck lunch. Tashlich: 2:15 p.m. at Madrona Park.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Children’s service: 10-11 a.m. Yizkor: 5 p.m. Ne’ilah: 6 p.m. followed by break-fast at 7 p.m.

lolcat
gyuval/Creative Commons

Alternative


Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue

1111 Harvard Ave., Seattle
Tickets are $50 for members, $70 for non-members
Contact: Elizabeth Fagin at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-527-9399 or betalef.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m. “Preparing for the Journey.”
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m. Service and children’s programming. Tashlich at Madrona Beach, 853 Lake Washington Blvd.
Sunday, September 8: Preparing for the High Holy Days: 2-4 p.m. “Deciding to Forgive.” Time for learning, reflection, meditation, discussion and exploration through the medium of creative art expression with Rabbi Olivier BenHaim. Registration required. Free for Bet Alef members; $10 for non-members.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m. “The Yearning of the Soul.”
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Worship and programming all day, including morning worship, healing circle, Yizkor and Neilah and break-fast. Quality children’s programming and childcare throughout the day.
Family Yom Kippur Service: 1:45 p.m. Rabbi Olivier BenHaim leads this unique interactive service bringing parents and children together to experience healing and forgiveness as they step into the New Year. Free.

Congregation Eitz Or

At University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave., Seattle
Reb Arik Labowitz will be joined by his team of “super-hero holy music makers” whose combination of musicianship and spirit elevate souls and connect hearts.
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-467-2617 or http://www.eitzor.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:45 pm. Kiddush with honey and apples at 9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: Services: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Vegetarian potluck lunch: 1-2 p.m. Tashlich and shofar service at Green Lake: 4-5:30 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Services: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Break: 1-4:45 p.m. Healing service: 5-5:45 p.m. Yizkor and Neilah: 6-8 p.m. Havdalah: 8-8:30 p.m. Vegetarian potluck break-fast: 8:30-9:30 p.m.

Congregation Tikvah Chadashah
RSVP for location, Seattle
CTC, Puget Sound’s GLBTQ Chavurah, will host lay-led, participatory High Holy Day services in an informal setting. All are welcome. Free.
Contact: Harley Broe at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-322-7298 or tikvahchadashah.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 8-9:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.

Kavana
Upper Queen Anne. Location provided upon registration.
Tickets: $18 per partner; $180 per non-partner
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or http://www.kavana.org/events/high-holidays-kavana-0
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 5:30-8:15 p.m. Communal dinner: 5:30 p.m. Service: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Family services and program: 9 a.m. Morning services: 10 a.m. Youth discussion group: 12 p.m. Tashlich ceremony and BYO picnic lunch: 2 p.m.
Rosh Hashana Second Day: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Lighting of memorial candles in honor of deceased relatives: 6:30 p.m. Kol Nidre cello rendition: 6:45 p.m. Kol Nidre prayer services: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m.-8:15 p.m. Yom Kippur meditation workshops: 9 a.m.-8:05 p.m. Family program: 9 a.m. Yom Kippur morning services: 10 a.m. Youth discussion group: 12 p.m. Book of Jonah text study and meditation: 5:30 p.m. Neilah closing service: 6:45 p.m. Final shofar blast and Havdalah: 8:05 p.m. Break-fast meal: 8:15 p.m.

Paths to Awakening

At Unity in Lynnwood, 16727 Alderwood Mall Pky., Lynnwood
Rabbi Ted Falcon, with musicians led by Stephen Merritt, welcomes all who yearn to open their hearts more fully to themselves and to each other in a warm and supportive spiritual environment.
All services $140. Rosh Hashanah (both services): $70. Rosh Hashanah (single service): $38. Yom Kippur (both services): $75. Yom Kippur (single service): $41. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay. Please email to make financial arrangements. Contact: Rabbi Ted Falcon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or http://www.RabbiTedFalcon.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: “The Celebration of Creation”: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: “Beginner’s Mind”: 10:30 a.m. Worship: 2:30 p.m. Tashlich at Edmonds Beach.
Kol Nidre: “The Song of the Soul”: 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: “Returning to Source.” Morning worship: 10:30 a.m. Chanting meditation: 1:30 p.m. Healing service: 2:30 p.m. Yizkor and concluding worship: 4:30 p.m.

Secular Jewish Circle
Location provided upon RSVP
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-528-1944 or secularjewishcircle.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Rosh Hashanah Ceremony 7-9 p.m. Join Secular Jewish Circle for reflection, poetry, and music. Pause for introspection, hear the shofar, enjoy traditional foods and music with other secular, humanistic Jews. Donations accepted. 

Sha’arei Tikvah
At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1441 16th Ave., Seattle.
Celebrations for all. Open to the public. No tickets required. Sha’arei Tikvah offers services and celebrations for Jews of all abilities.
Contact: Marjorie Schnyder at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-861-3146 or http://www.jfsseattle.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah service: 4 p.m. All are welcome to join in prayer and celebration and to hear the sounding of the shofar.

Reform

Bet Chaverim Community of South King County
25701 14th Pl. S, Des Moines
Small, friendly congregation welcomes visitors to High Holiday services.
No tickets required. Suggested donation $50 per individual, $75 per family per holiday.
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-577-0403 or betchaverim.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Led by Rabbi Harkavy, Cantorial Soloist Neil Weinstein, and choir.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Congregation Kol Ami

16530 Avondale Rd. NE, Woodinville
Tickets $75 per service, $250 for all four services. Childcare provided. No one turned away because of inability to pay. Any contribution for tickets can be applied to dues for new membership. 
Contact: Admin at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 425-844-1604 or kolaminw.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
Children’s Service: 9-10 a.m. Special service geared for the little ones.
Kol Nidre: 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Children’s service: 9 a.m. Yom Kippur morning service: 10:30 a.m. Study and meditation: 1 p.m. Afternoon service: 3 p.m. Yizkor/Neilah service: 5 p.m. Break-the-fast potluck at a member’s home: 6:30 p.m.

Kol HaNeshama
Meets at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 3050 California Ave. SW, Seattle.
Register online
Contact: Sheila Abrahams at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-935-1590 or http://www.khnseattle.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-9 p.m. Begin with kavana, an intention, to open to the possibility of transformation during these Days of Awe. Bring a small item, poem, or something that symbolizes your hopes for the New Year, and together create a Mishkan, a sacred space, so that prayers might be lifted higher.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. “Shofarot (Call of the Shofar): Being Present.” The powerful sound of the shofar calls you to wake up, to be present. What do you need to pay attention to as you enter into this new year? Children’s service: 8:45 –9:15 a.m. Tashlich and picnic: 1 p.m. at Alki Beach, grassy area, 63rd and Alki. Bring your own picnic.
Kol Nidre: “Malchuyot (Awe): Standing in the Presence of the Mystery of Life.” What might it mean, metaphorically, to come before the Maker? How would our deeds, our words, our lives be measured?
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m. Morning service: 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. How do we become more present to ourselves, in a world that continually seduces us away from who we are and who we want to be? Children’s service: 8:45-9:15 a.m. Afternoon workshops: 2-4 p.m. Afternoon service: Yizkor, Ne’ila 4-6:45 p.m. “Zichronot (Remembrance): Connecting to Past and Future Generations”: How does history guide who we are and what we envision for the future? Break-the-fast immediately following services.

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St., Seattle
Tickets $65 for single service, $225 for all services.
Contact: Stephanie at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-525-0915 or templebetham.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:30-10 p.m. The High Holy Days are a time for reflection, introspection, and reconnection. Observe them at a variety of services, which meet the spiritual needs of this diverse community.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. Gather for the Jewish New Year to celebrate creation, the miracle of life, and inner potential for renewal.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-10 p.m. The call of the evening prayer beckons you to let your longings and prayers combine in a powerful expression of hope.
Yom Kippur: 8:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. On Yom Kippur, look deeply at the path of life, and reflect on the ability to turn to a better, more meaningful direction.

Temple Beth Or
3215 Lombard Ave., Everett
Led by Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall and Cantor Ellen Dreskin. Tickets required.
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 425-259-7125 or templebethor.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m. Oneg after services.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.: Morning service: 10 a.m. Dairy/vegetarian luncheon: 12:30 p.m. Reservations required. 2 p.m.: Children’s service. Tashlich service at Everett Public Boat Launch (West Marine View Drive at 10th Street): 3:15 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre): 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning service: 10 a.m. Text study with Heidi Piel: 1 p.m. Children’s service: 3 p.m. Afternoon service, Yizkor and conclusion: 4:15–6:30 p.m.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue
Contact: Karen Sakamoto at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 425-603-9677 or templebnaitorah.org/index.aspx
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 5-9:30 p.m. Join TBT for an exciting kick off to Rosh Hashanah. Contemporary service: 5 p.m. Traditional service: 8 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Traditional service: 9 a.m. Youth service (grades 1-5): 9 a.m. Teen service (grades 6-12): 9 a.m. Contemporary service: 12:30 p.m. Children’s & family service: 3:15 p.m. Tashlich at Phantom Lake: 4:15 p.m. Please join the Sha’arei Tikvah service at 4 p.m. at TDHS. Babysitting available.
Kol Nidre: 5-9:30 p.m. Contemporary service: 5 p.m. Traditional service: 8 p.m. Babysitting available.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Traditional service: 9 a.m. Youth service (grades 1-5): 9 a.m. Teen service (grades 6-12): 9 a.m. Contemporary service: 12:30 p.m. Yom Kippur study sessions: 1, 2, 3 p.m. (attend one or all). Children’s and family service: 3:15 p.m. Mincha service: 4 p.m. Yizkor: 5 p.m. Ne’ilah concluding service: 6 p.m. Break-the fast: 7 p.m. Times are approximate. Babysitting for morning service available.

Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1441 16th Ave., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue
Contact: Wendy Dessenberger at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-323-8486 or http://www.tdhs-nw.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m. Services offered at both Bellevue and Seattle locations. Tickets are required.
Rosh Hashanah First Day – Seattle: 10 a.m. Kulanu, intergenerational family service. Open to the public. No tickets required.
Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. Contact temple for more information. KIDdish Club (2.5 years-pre-kindergarten): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Tashlich, casting off sins: 3 p.m. at Luther Burbank Park, Mercer Island. Open to the public. No tickets required. Sha’arei Tikvah service: 4 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required. Sha’arei Tikvah is a partnership with Jewish Family Service to offer services and celebrations for Jews of all abilities.
Rosh Hashanah First Day – Bellevue: Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Family service: 1:30 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required.
Kol Nidre: 7:30 p.m. Offered at both locations.
Yom Kippur – Seattle: Kulanu, intergenerational family service: 10 a.m. Open to the public. No tickets required. Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. KIDdish Club (2.5 years-pre-kindergarten): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Afternoon Yizkor, Neilah/closing service and break-the-fast reception: 3 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required.
Yom Kippur – Bellevue: Main sanctuary services: 10 a.m. Tickets required. Kids’ Kehillah (kindergarten-3rd grade): 10:45 a.m. Advanced registration required. Family services: 1:30 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required. Afternoon Yizkor, Neilah/closing service and break-the-fast reception: 3 p.m. Open to the public. No tickets required.

Orthodox

Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath (BCMH)
5145 S Morgan St., Seattle
Contact: Dee Wilson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-721-0970 or http://www.bcmhseattle.org.
Non-member adult: $225. Non-member children (age 13-17): $50. Non-member student: $75.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Candlelighting: 7:26 p.m. Mincha: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 7:45 a.m. Shacharis: 7:45 a.m. Torah reading: Approx. 9:40 a.m. Sermon: Approx. 10:15 a.m. Shofar blowing: Approx. 10:40 a.m. Mussaf: Approx. 11 a.m. Mincha: 7:15 p.m. Tashlich following Mincha. Candlelighting for second day after 8:27 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 7:45 p.m. Shacharis: 7:45 a.m. Torah reading: Approx. 9:40 a.m. Sermon: Approx. 10:15 a.m. Shofar blowing: Approx. 10:40 a.m. Mussaf: Approx. 11 a.m. Mincha: 7:30 p.m. Candlelighting for Shabbos Shuva: 7:22 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:10 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Shacharis: 8 a.m. Torah reading: 10:45 a.m. Sermon: 11:30 a.m. Yizkor: 12 p.m. Mussaf: 12:15 p.m. Mincha: 6 p.m. Ne’ilah: 7:15 p.m. Fast concludes: 8:09 p.m.

Capitol Hill Minyan
1501 17th Ave., Seattle
The Capitol Hill Minyan offers traditional Orthodox services and a warm environment in the center of Seattle.
Contact Rabbi Ben Aaronson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-659-SHUL (7845) or http://www.capitolhillminyan.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:25 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 8:30 a.m., shofar: 11:15 a.m. Mincha: 7:20 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:15 a.m. Mincha: 7:20 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 8:30 a.m. Yizkor: 11:30 a.m. Mincha: 5:45 p.m. Break-the-fast: 8:15 p.m.

Chabad House Seattle

4541 19th Ave. NE, Seattle
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Erev Rosh Hashana: Candlelighting: 7:26 p.m.

Rosh Hashana First Day: Services: 10 a.m. Evening services: 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:27 p.m.
Rosh Hashana Second Day: Services: 10 a.m. Evening services: 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:25 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:08 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m. Ne’ilah: 7:15 p.m.

Chabad of the Central Cascades
24121 SE Black Nugget Rd., Issaquah
No membership fees or tickets. Hebrew-English prayerbooks. Warm and friendly atmosphere. No background or affiliation necessary. Traditional and contemporary services. Free.
Contact: Rabbi Farkash at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 425-427-1652
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Light candles at 7:25 p.m. Services at 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Tashlich and evening services: 7:30 p.m.: Light candles after 8:28 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Light Shabbat candles by 7:21 p.m.
Kol Nidre: Light candles: 7:07 p.m. Services: 7:15 p.m. Fast begins at 7:25 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Yizkor memorial services: 11:30 a.m. Mincha and Neila closing services: 6 p.m. Fast ends at 8:09 p.m.

Congregation Ezra Bessaroth

5217 S Brandon St., Seattle
EB members free, non-members $200 per person, children $30 (covers all holiday services).
Contact: Susan Jensen at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or http://www.ezrabessaroth.net
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6-6:30 p.m. Mincha, Arvit to follow. Early candlelighting: 6:21 p.m., regular candlelighting 7:25 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah: 8 a.m.-8:12 p.m. Shahrit: 8 a.m., sermon and shofar at approx. 11 a.m. Mincha and Tashlich: 5:30 p.m., Arvit to follow. Early candlelighting: Not before 6:19 p.m., regular candlelighting: After 8:12 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:25 a.m.-7:20 p.m. Shahrit: 8:25 a.m., sermon and shofar at approx. 11 a.m. Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat: 6 p.m. Early candlelighting: Not before 6:18 p.m., regular candlelighting 7:22 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 3-7:06 p.m. Mincha-Hatarat Nedarim: 3 p.m. Kal Nidre: 6:45 p.m., Arvit to follow. Candlelighting: 7:06 p.m. Fast begins 7:23 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 8:25 a.m.-8:09 p.m. Shahrit: 8:25 a.m. Sermon: 12 p.m. Presidents’ message: 6 p.m. Neilah: 6:30 p.m., Arvit to follow. Fast ends 8:09 p.m.

Congregation Shaarei Tefillah Lubavitch
6250 43rd Ave. NE, Seattle
No event fees or tickets. Hebrew-English prayer books. Warm and friendly atmosphere. No background or affiliation necessary. Traditional and contemporary services.

Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-527-1411
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Candlelighting: 7:26 p.m.

Rosh Hashana First Day: Services: 9 a.m. Evening services: 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:27 p.m.
Rosh Hashana Second Day: Services at 9 a.m. Evening services at 7:30 p.m. Light candles after 8:25 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:08 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Services at 9 a.m. Ne’ilah: 7:00pm

Congregation Shevet Achim

5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island
All services free of charge.
Contact: Jo Kershaw at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-275-1539 or http://www.shevetachim.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Selichot services at 6:30 a.m. followed by Shacharit. Mincha at 7:30 p.m. followed by Maariv.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Shacharit: 8:30 a.m.: Sounding of the shofar: 10:45 a.m. Mincha followed by Tashlich: 6:30 p.m. Maariv: 7:50 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Shacharit: 8:30 a.m. Sounding of the shofar: 10:45 a.m.: Mincha/Maariv: 7:15 p.m.
Kol Nidre: Selichot: 6:30 a.m. Shacharit: 7 a.m. Mincha: 3 p.m. Kol Nidre/Maariv: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Shacharit: 8:30 a.m. Yizkor: 11:30 a.m. Mincha/Neilah/Maariv: 5:30 p.m.

Eastside Torah Center
1837 156th Ave NE #303, Bellevue.
No membership required. All are welcome. Warm, friendly and family-like environment. Free.
Contact Rabbi Mordechai Farkash at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 425-957-7890 or www. Chabadbellevue.org.
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Shacharit: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Mincha followed by Tashlich: 6:15 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Shacharit: 9:30 a.m. Shofar: 11:30 a.m. Mincha: 7 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur: Mincha: 3:15 p.m.  Kol Nidre and Arvit: 7:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning Shacharit: 9:30 a.m. Yizkor: 11:30 a.m. Mincha: 5:45 p.m.

Emanuel Congregation

3412 NE 65th St., Seattle
Contact Gary Cohen at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 9:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

West Seattle Torah Learning Center
Contact for location details
Join the TLC family for inspiring, explanatory, and interactive High Holiday services. Come for it all or just pop in for a traditional holiday experience that is sure to leave you on a “high” for the rest of the year. Meals follow services. Free.
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-722-8289
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 pm.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8:45 a.m. Torah reading and shofar 10:30 a.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day:  8:45 a.m. Torah reading and shofar 10:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:15 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 8:45 am. Yizkor: 10:30 a.m. Ne’ilah: 6:45 p.m. Fast ends: 8:09 p.m. Light break-fast served.

Students

Hillel at the University of Washington
4745 17th Ave. NE, Seattle
Reservations are required at http://www.hilleluw.org/highholidays
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-527-1997
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.

Throughout Washington State

Aberdeen

Temple Beth Israel
Sumner and Martin Streets
No charge. Always friendly, meaningful services led by experienced and talented lay individuals.
Contact: Jane Goldberg at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 360-533-5755
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Morning, memorial and concluding services throughout Yom Kippur Day are observed.

Bainbridge Island/Kitsap Peninsula


Chavurat Shir Hayam

Bainbridge Commons, Bainbridge Island
Chavurat Shir Hayam welcomes Reb Tiv’ona Reith. The theme will be “The Time Has Come — for What?” Guests welcome, no tickets or reservations are necessary.
Contact for times and locations: Sharon at 206-842-8453
Erev Rosh Hashanah: Services followed by potluck dessert.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Rosh Hashanah day services, study session, and Tashlich.
Kol Nidre: Contact for details.
Yom Kippur: Morning service, meditation, Yizkor, children’s Bibliodrama, Neilah, and break-the-fast.

Congregation Kol Shalom

9010 Miller Rd., Bainbridge Island
Tickets are $250. Price includes all of the Days of Awe services.
Contact: Janice Hill at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 206-842-9010 or http://www.kolshalom.net
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-10 p.m. Led by Rabbi Mark Glickman and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Services followed by dessert potluck.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Led by Rabbi Mark Glickman and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Children’s services are free and begin at 9:30 a.m. Tashlich at Point White Pier. See web page for directions.
Kol Nidre: 7-9 p.m. Led by Rabbi Anson Laytner and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Rabbi Laytner is the program manager of the Interreligious Initiative at Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry and the author of several books.
Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Led by Rabbi Anson Laytner and Cantorial Soloist Laura Cannon. Children’s services are free and begin at 9:30 a.m. Potluck community break-the-fast after Havdalah.

Bellingham


Congregation Beth Israel

Please visit the synagogue website for updated location info
Contact: Mary Somerville at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 360-733-8890 or bethisraelbellingham.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tickets required — contact synagogue office. Family service: 9-10 a.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 10-11 a.m. Free. At Congregation Beth Israel, 2200 Broadway, Bellingham.
Kol Nidre: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets required. At Leopold Ballroom, 1224 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m.– 2:30 p.m. Family service: 9 a.m. Morning service: 10:30 a.m. Study session: 1:30 p.m. Tickets required. Yom Kippur afternoon service, Yizkor and Ne’ilah: 3-6:30 p.m. Tickets required. At Leopold Ballroom, 1224 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham.

Bremerton


Congregation Beth Hatikvah

1410 11th St., Bremerton
Non-member suggested donation: $75
Contact: Rabbi Sarah Newmark at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning service: 9:30 a.m. Torah/youth service: Approx. 10:30 a.m. Tashlich immediately following at Lions Park.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning service: 10 a.m.
Kol Nidrei: Evening service: 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning service: 9:30 a.m. Torah/youth service: Approx. 10:30 a.m. Yizkor service: Immediately following. Ne’ilah: Approx. 5:30 p.m. Shofar: Approx. 6:30 p.m. Break-fast immediately following.

Olympia

Congregation B’nai Torah
3437 Libby Rd. NE, Olympia
All are welcome, no tickets needed.
Contact: Larry Perrin at 360-866-0862
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9:30 a.m. Tashlich following kosher dairy lunch.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 9:30 a.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9 a.m. Community break-fast following.

Port Townsend


Bet Shira

At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Jefferson and Tyler Streets, Port Townsend
Lay-led services
Free; donations from non-members accepted.
Contact: Barry Lerich at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 360-223-5333
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-9:30 p.m. Lay-led services.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-9 p.m. — Bet Shira
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.– 9 p.m. Lay-led Yom Kippur, Yizkor, Neilah, closing, and potluck break-the-fast.

Spokane

Congregation Emanu-El
Rosh Hashanah services held at Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 W Fort George Wright Dr., Spokane. Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services held at Unity Spiritual Center, 2900 S Bernard, Spokane.
No cost; donations suggested.
Contact: Faith Hayflich at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or http://www.spokaneemanu-el.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-10 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Children’s services (ages 10 and under): 9-9:30 a.m.: Adult and older kids’ service: 10 a.m. Community luncheon: 1 p.m. Tashlich at the river: 2 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-9 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Morning services: 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Mincha family service at 4:30 p.m. followed by Avodah, Neilah, and Havdalah starting at 5:15, then a break-the-fast potluck.

Temple Beth Shalom

1322 E 30th Ave., Spokane
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30 p.m. Service with babysitting available.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Rosh Hashanah first day morning service: 8 a.m. Youth service for all ages: 10:30 a.m.-noon. Tashlich at Gersh residence: 5:30 p.m. Rosh Hashanah second day evening service: 6:30 p.m. Babysitting available at morning services.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 8 a.m. Erev Shabbat service: 6 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:45 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Yom Kippur morning service: 9 a.m. Youth service for all ages: 10:30 a.m.-noon. Yizkor Service (approximate time): 1:15 p.m. Discussion with the rabbi: 5 p.m. Mincha and Ne’ila service: 5:30 p.m. Havdalah, shofar, and break-fast: 7:50 p.m. Babysitting available for morning services.

Tri-Cities

Beth Sholom
312 Thayer Dr., Richland
Contact: Dan Metzger at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 509-987-5548 or http://www.cbstricities.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Children’s service: 10 a.m. Tashlich: 5 p.m. at Lee Boulevard and Columbia River. Evening services: 7 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning services: 9:30 a.m. Dairy potluck: 6 p.m. Erev Shabbat services: 7:15 p.m. (approximate).
Kol Nidre: 6:45 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m. Services start at 9:30 a.m. Children’s service: 10 a.m. Yizkor: 11:15 a.m. Ask the Rabbi: 4:45 p.m. Concluding services: 6 p.m. Community break-the-fast: 7:45 p.m.

Tacoma

Chabad of Pierce County
2146 N Mildred St., Tacoma
Hebrew/English prayer books, no membership fees or tickets, warm and friendly atmosphere, no background or affiliation necessary. Traditional and contemporary services.
Contact: Rabbi Heber at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m. Light candles at 7:27 p.m. Say blessings 1 and 4. Services at 7 p.m. followed by community dinner.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning services: 9 a.m. Shofar sounding: 11 a.m. Evening services: 7 p.m. Light candles at 7:23 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: Morning services: 9 a.m. Shofar: 11 a.m. Light candles at 7:23 p.m. Say blessing 5. Evening services: 7 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7 p.m. Light candles at 7:09 p.m. Say blessings 2 and 4. Fast begins at 7:09 p.m. Services at 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning services: 10 a.m. Yizkor memorial service: 12:30 p.m. Mincha and Neilah closing service: 5:30 p.m. Fast ends at 8:11 p.m. Break-the-fast meal.

Temple Beth El

At Temple Beth El, 5975 S 12th St., Tacoma
Free; donations requested.
Contact: Bruce Kadden at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 253-564-7101 or templebethel18.org
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 8-9:30 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: Morning service: 10 a.m. Tashlich family service: 1 p.m. at Titlow Waterfront, Sixth Ave., Tacoma.
Rosh Hashanah Second Day: 10 a.m. With Congregation Beth Hatikvah, 1410 11th Ave., Bremerton.
Kol Nidre: Family service: 5-6 p.m. Regular service: 8 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Morning service: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Family service: 1-2 p.m.Yom Kippur afternoon, Yizkor and Neilah services followed by break-the fast: 3 p.m.

Walla Walla


Congregation Beth Israel

1202 E Alder St., Walla Walla
Services $10 per person
Contact: Jennifer Winchell at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7-9 p.m.
Yom Kippur: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Yakima

Temple Shalom
1517 Browne Ave., Yakima
High Holy Day services will be led by student rabbi Abram Goodstein.
Free
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or http://www.templeshalomyakima.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7:30-9 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah First Day: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 7:30 p.m.
Yom Kippur: Services begin at 10 a.m. and resume around 3:45 p.m. with a break-the-fast meal after the service ends.

Moscow, ID

Jewish Community of the Palouse
At Unitarian Universalist Church, 420 E Second St., Moscow, ID
Free; no tickets required.
Contact: Myron Schreck at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or jcpalouse.wordpress.com
Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:30-8 p.m.
Kol Nidre: 6:30-8 p.m.


Jew-ish: The weekend guide
Summer is closing in on us and things are actually starting to happen again. Movies, music, food...and outside things to do before the rain gods strike with their mighty wrath.
By Jew-ish staff · Posted August 22, 2013

Film

When Comedy Went to School
Opens Friday
Ever wonder why so many comedians are Jewish? “When Comedy Went to School” tries to answer this question by capturing the voices, stories and jokes of Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl, Jerry Stiller, and others, and by touring the Borscht Belt, that upstate New York summer breeding grounds for Jewish comic genius. Not rated. Check out our review here.
For one week only at the Landmark Varsity Theatre, 4329 University Way NE, Seattle.

Blue Jasmine
Woody Allen’s latest venture follows the self-deluded, broke divorce Jasmine from her high society life to her sister’s apartment and the real world of mundane jobs…and college? With Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlberg and other powerhouses of the entertainment industry.
At various theaters.

This is the End
Your favorite all-star Jewy cast, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd, along with many hilarious others, are back at it. This time, facing down the apocalypse while attending a party at James Franco’s house. If only the end of times could really be this funny.
At the Royal Meridian, 1501 7th Ave., Seattle.

World War Z
They’re undead, flesh-eating zombies, but are they good for the Jews? That’s the current debate around “World War Z,” which takes place partly in Jerusalem and features a tough Israeli sidekick to Brad Pitt’s character. It’s either the most pro-Israel, or most anti-Semitic movie ever made, depending on which side you fall on, or if you care.
At theaters around Seattle, check here for showtimes.

Arts

Creating a New Northwest
Through October 6
Young and on a budget, Seattleites Herb and Lucy Pruzan started populating their home with local art in the 1950s, never knowing that their home would become a veritable museum one day. Now through October, some of the Pruzans’ pieces will be on display at the Tacoma Art Museum in an exhibit titled “Creating a New Northwest.” Read the story in JTNews here!
At the Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave. $9. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun.

Music

Eef Barzilay
Friday @ 7 p.m.
Frontman for indie rock band Clem Snide, Barzilay performs band stuff, artfully reworked covers, and his own “postmodern tales of outsiders and weirdos, like himself, born out of his experience as an Israeli immigrant” (-Seattle Weekly).
At Barboza, 925 E Pike St. $15.

Outside

Jews in Shoes
Saturday @ 10:30 a.m.
Walk, walk fast, or jog around Green Lake with Jconnect. Then reinstate those burnt calories at the Blue Star Cafe and Pub around noon (4512 Stone Way N).
Rain or shine. Meet at Green Lake Starbucks, 7100 E Green Lake Drive N.
For info contact Joanne at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Gardening with JFS
Sunday @ 10 a.m.
Jconnect will be partnering with Jewish Family Service to garden and build raised beds for a blind woman who lives in Kirkland. Lunch and supplies will be provided, but feel free to bring your own as well. Meet at Hillel or meet on the Eastside - email Talia at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to get the address. RSVP and more info on Facebook.

Food

Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation Annual Grand Bazaar
Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Grand Bazaar will feature Sephardic foods (borekas, bulemas, pasteles and more), breakfast and Fatburger lunch, kids activities, raffle, crafts and culture booths. “Center stage” will feature a magician, reptile man, improv, a performance by rapper Nissim Black, and more. Really, if you love food, don’t miss this.
At Sephardic Bikur Holim, 6500 52nd Ave. S.

Friday night and Saturday Shabbat services

The Parsha is Ki Tavo
Candlelighting is at 7:49 p.m.
Click on the synagogues for links to their service times.
Reform
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St., Seattle
3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue

Temple Beth Am
2632 NE 80th St.

Temple B’nai Torah
15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue

Kol HaNeshamah

Conservative
Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Ave. NE

Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island

Orthodox
Shaarei Tefillah (Chabad)
6250 43rd Ave. NE


Chabad at the UW

5200 21st Ave. NE

BCMH
5145 S Morgan St.

Sephardic Bikur Holim
6500 52nd Ave. S

Ezra Bessaroth
5217 S Brandon St.

Shevet Achim
5017 90th Ave. SE, Mercer Island

Minyan Ohr Chadash
Meets at Kline Galland Home Atrium, 7500 Seward Park Ave.

The Kehilla
S Holly St., Seward Park, Seattle

Mercaz Seattle
North Seattle

Alternative
Kavana

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
1111 Harvard Ave.


International Film Circuit, Inc.
The birth of Jewish comic genius
A new film traces the origins of the Jewish comedy phenomenon back to the mythological land of upstate New York.
By Michael Fox · Posted August 22, 2013

“When Comedy Went to School” will have a weeklong engagement, starting Friday, Aug. 23 at the Varsity Theater, 4329 University Way NE, Seattle. Visit http://www.landmarktheatres.com for tickets and showtimes.

To everyone under 40, and anyone outside of New York, the popular Catskills summer resorts of the mid-20th century must seem as distant, obscure and foreign as the Yiddish theater.
The comparison is not inapt, for both institutions were important signposts in the history of Jews in America. And now, both belong more to the past than the present.
“When Comedy Went to School,” a new documentary by Mevlut Akkaya, Ron Frank and Lawrence Richards, picks a particular entry point to revisit the heyday of Grossinger’s and the hundreds of other hotels that catered to a primarily Jewish clientele: The multitude of Jewish stand-up comics who honed their routines on tough-to-please audiences, and eventually went on to success on television.
Hosted by Robert Klein and featuring interviews with Jerry Lewis, Jerry Stiller, Mort Sahl, Jackie Mason, Mickey Freeman and Larry King, “When Comedy Went to School” aims for an affectionate blend of entertainment and sociology with a poignant undertow of nostalgia.
As thrilling as it is to hear these sages and to see vintage clips of legends from A to Y (a young Woody Allen to Henny Youngman), the film suffers from a diffusion of focus. It delivers 76 diverting minutes, but leaves us still waiting for the essential documentary on the golden age of American Jewish comedy.
“When Comedy Went to School” opens Friday, August 23 at the Varsity Theatre for a week.
In the years before window air conditioners, Las Vegas, all-you-can-eat cruises and Birthright, the Catskill resorts were the preferred vacation destination for thousands of New York families. To Jews who’d grown up on the Lower East Side with 500 people crammed into every teeming acre, the wooded mountains were (you should pardon the expression) a breath of fresh air.
However, as Jackie Mason points out, the wide range of outdoor sports on offer wasn’t all that appealing to Jews, who preferred eating, sitting and kibitzing. So the hotels in the Sour Cream Sierra (or, if you prefer, the Jewish Alps), emphasized food and entertainment.
The tummlers, or clowns, specialized in physical comedy with roots in vaudeville, and it comes as no surprise that Danny Kaye and Sid Caesar got their start in the Borscht Belt. But Jews also appreciated jokes, wordplay and stereotype-flogging, which were the fertile domain of Alan King, Jack Carter, Buddy Hackett, Shecky Greene, Myron Cohen, Rodney Dangerfield and countless others.
“When Comedy Went to School” takes a stab at exploring and defining Jewish humor, but doesn’t arrive at a satisfactory answer. Curiously, neither Klein (reading Richards’ narration) nor the other comics cite their ability to gently satirize the aspirations and anxieties of assimilated and newly affluent Jews.
It’s kind of amazing, in retrospect, that so many Jewish comedians were embraced by the mainstream embodied by Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson. However, the filmmakers’ decision to include clips from Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” Lenny Bruce’s act and Mel Brooks’ “History of the World: Part I”—as understandable as it may be and as amusing as they are—distracts us from the focus on the Catskills.
The filmmakers deserve credit for pushing the staid bounds of the documentary form beyond talking-head interviews and archival footage by having Klein address us from the stage of an empty ballroom (rather than disembodied voice-over narration) and by including reenactments (of ‘50s audiences at a stand-up show, for example).
Yet one can’t help wishing that “When Comedy Went to School” had been made 15 years ago, so the late Alan King, Henny Youngman and Rodney Dangerfield, among others, could have added their acerbic remembrances.


Creative Commons/Jonny White
German Preoccupation: Taking back Jerusalem — in Berlin
Our contemplative correspondent in Berlin joins an Al Quds Day protest and encounters all different types of Germans.
By Steven Blum · Posted August 20, 2013

The reporters and German and American Jews, many draped in Israeli flags, huddled around a bald man yelling into a boom mic on the corner of Berlin’s busiest shopping district.

“Down with the Iranian regime! Freedom for Iran! Freedom for Israel!” the man yelled in German. German Jewish women, sitting on a bench, swatted at their faces with tiny Israeli flags to keep cool in the August heat. 

We were at a “No Al Quds Day” rally. Since 2003, this counter-protest has sprung up parallel to the Al Quds March, an annual anti-Zionist parade conceived by the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Every year (except for 2001), close to a thousand Islamists and supporters have marched in Berlin, calling for the destruction of Israel and the liberation of Jerusalem. This year, ten Jewish agencies had organized a counter-protest.

And yet, there couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the pro-Israel crowd. “Such is the fate of most pro-Israel rallies in Berlin; even the ones that are well-funded can’t reach any kind of critical mass,” a friend told me.

We were surrounded by a metal gate and facing the backside of a department store. The crowd was somber. It was like someone had said, “Here, go wave your flag next to the dumpster.” 

I wasn’t sure whether to stay penned up with my fellow Heebs or break out, wandering the streets in search of the other protest — the one we were protesting against. Eventually, I knew, a crowd waving Hezbollah flags would emerge from the other end of the street and congregate on the pavement across from us. They would yell “Zionism is racism” and then we would shout something else in their direction — something pro-Israel but also pro-Palestine, so as to not upset German sensibilities. 

This year, the Al Quds protesters had chosen a new motto: Gemeinsam Gegen Zionismus und Antisemitismus or, “The Community Against Zionism and Anti-Semitism.”

“They’ve realized this is the way to appeal to the German Left,” Ben Weinthal, Berlin editor of the Jerusalem Post, told me. “It’s more sophisticated than the language used in the past.”

Al Quds Day in Berlin normally receives the sort of breathless coverage that would make a pro-Israel person wary of ever setting foot in Germany. But today felt like just another shopping day. The police that had gathered to protect both groups looked bored by their task.

When the Al Quds protesters appeared, I was wandering down the street. The first thing I heard was a large group yelling “Zionismus ist Rassistisch.” They were waving big bright yellow flags.

Then, immediately to my left, I heard someone yell “Free Gaza from Hamas.” At first, I thought some of the pro-Israeli folks had escaped from their corner, but then I realized an entirely different set of pro-Israeli folks had emerged: The Antifa, or anti-fascists.

Most were under 30. Wearing buttons with German and Israeli flags and carrying anti-fascist banners with the Israeli flag, they followed the Al Quds March, sho