The Washington Post’s Smoke Signals column shared the story of Brisket Bootcamp at Texas A&M in College Station. The third annual event which SOLD OUT in five minutes featured Jeff Savell, a distinguished professor of animal science at Texas A&M. Camp Brisket is an intensive two-day class on how to prepare brisket. The topic is so important, that the class is collaboration between the University of Texas and Texas A&M, which is like saying it is a collaboration between pork and kosher: fierce rivals. The 60 students were mostly male. Among the teachers were Robb Walsh, the dean of Texas barbecue writers; Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly magazine’s BBQ editor; Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue and winner of the James Beard Foundation’s “American Classics” award; and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue restaurant and the TV show “BBQ With Franklin.”
But, I am sticking with cheese blintzes… Toronto’s Globe and Mail featured the growth of neo-Jewish cuisine It chats about the new fashion: cheese blintzes, fried to a crispy gold then piled high with sour cream; $16 latkes; blueberry varenikyas; red ruby borscht; challah; and fried gribenes with crispy onions and schmaltz. Highlighted is Anthony Rose of Fat Pasha restaurant in Toronto. Fat Pasha was supposed to serve Middle Eastern fare and Israeli food. It went Eastern European Jewish instead.
Speaking of going full-Ashkenazi… Mayor de Blasio of New York City has made a compromise with a coalition of very haredi NYC Jewish leaders so that their congregations and mohels can continue to use their mouths to suck a newborn’s blood during the circumcision process known as metzitzah b’peh. New York City will drop its requirement that a newborn’s parents sign a consent form; and selected rabbinical leaders agreed to request that mohels who are suspected of infecting infants with the incurable herpes virus undergo testing that could ban them from performing the ritual. Rabbis would help to enforce the ban. The City of New York’s health department reported that this bris ritual resulted in two deaths and two severe catastrophes recently; as well as 4 other cases in the tristate area. In the past 14 years there were 17 cases of infantile herpes reported in NYC as a result of this type of bris. Rabbinical leaders agreed that they will help the city to identify any mohel who performed a bris that led to a child becoming ill. Also, under the new agreement, parents will be educated on the risks of this circumcision procedure.
In addition to losing actor Leonard Nimoy this week, we lost Irving Kahn, a 109 year old Wall Street investor who still worked 3 days a week at his office up until his passing. His three siblings passed away at the ages of 110, 103, and 101. They were the children of Mamie Friedman and Saul Kahn. Kahn worked with the famed Benjamin Graham, who also tutored Warren Buffet. Kahn made his first stock trade in 1929. Five decades later, in 1978 he opened Kahn Brothers Group with two of his sons. It currently manages a mere $1 billion. A hospital in The Bronx is studying his genes.
One asset he did not invest in was fake apartment buildings in Manhattan. New York State has closed down an apartment building that was serving as an illegal hotel. The faux hotel was being run by the Avi Shemesh’s and Shaul Kuba’s CIM Group in Los Angeles. In other fun Real Estate news, a U.S. federal jury ordered former jumk bond specialist and current billionaire Ira Rennert and his company to pay $118 million for looting his mining firm to help pay for his Hamptons mega-mansion. Allegedly, he bankrupted MagCorp in order to build a massive $500 million estate in Sagaponack on Long Island. $500 million? That is the same amount of cash that Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group received this week to refinance 85 of its extended-stay hotels across 18 states in the US. That is about 10,800 hotel rooms…. probably almost as many rooms as Rennert’s mega-mansion. Also,this week, Chun Peter Dong, who owns a large stake in 45 John (Wall Street building) filed a restraining order on Monday against his partner Chaim Miller. Dong claims that Miller embezzled about $14 million, and tried to sell the building for $66 million without his knowledge. Real Estate is fun.
More fun than real estate is looking at kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Currently on Indiegogo is Seder2015. It will launch at SxSW IN march. Does anyone still go to SxSW? An entrepreneur is trying to raise $25,000 to help host seders for young Jews. The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation pledged to match every dollar raised. The project includes digital haggadahs and a playlist of cool songs for Pesach. Another project raising funds is one to create Jewish LEGO kits – or JBRICKS.. which are like SBricks. The creator of Jbrick Yitzy Kasowitz has always dreamed of creating Jewish custom LEGO® sets. After our first product, a 3-in-1 Menorah set, sold out in just one week after launch, he was inundated with requests for more. he now wants funds so he can create more, like the LEGO Tzedaka box kit.
Sadly, a politician allegedly committed suicide this week. PEOPLE MAGAZINE is publishing a report that it might be because critics said he was Jewish. Tom Schweich, 54, a state auditor, was a leading contender in Missouri’s 2016 gubernatorial race. The Harvard Law School grad announced his candidacy for governor four weeks ago. Someone has alleged that the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, John Hancock, was leading a whisper campaign among GOP donors that Schweich was Jewish. Yes, his grandfather was Jewish, but Schweich attends an Episcopal church.
And speaking of Kahns… Annabelle Gurwitch writes in The Los Angeles Times that although her teen son, Ezra Kahn (who should not be mixed up with Pakistani Muslim Ezra Khan’s) has been raised JEW-..ISH, and identifies as a “NONE”, meaning “no religion,” he does like his matzo brei with bacon.
What? One more Kahn? okay. Today. TIME Magazine reports on Washington DC and its decriminalization of personal use of small amounts of marijuana, also known as pot. Rabbi Jeffrey KAHN writes an essay on how he dispenses pot in DC. He and his family own and operate the Takoma Wellness Center. He writes that, “Congress needs to back off and respect the wishes of D.C. residents to legalize marijuana.” He adds, “For nearly 30 years, I served as a congregational rabbi. My rabbinate began in June of 1981 on the same day the first case of AIDS was reported in the press. The beginning of my career coincided with the beginning of AIDS taking its heavy toll on humanity. As a very liberal rabbi in a very conservative town, where stigma and acceptance became large HIV-AIDS issues, I found myself one of the few local clergy to work in support of people living with HIV and AIDS. I spoke at many meetings, visited many in the hospital, officiated at many funerals. There were years when hardly a day went by without AIDS issues on the agenda. Those years were before the first pharmaceutical drug was introduced to help manage the symptoms of AIDS. During those days, marijuana provided the best-known relief. Marijuana stimulated the appetites of those who could not eat. Marijuana soothed the pain of those who suffered. Marijuana brought sleep to those who could not slumber. Marijuana eased the minds of those who faced stigma and death. I know. I saw it with my own eyes. My family and I had a very close and personal experience with marijuana as medicine. My late father-in-law, Jules Reifkind, had Multiple Sclerosis for more than 50 years. Of the many, many treatments he tried to help live with that condition, the one that really helped was marijuana.”