A Member of the Knesset, Elazar Stern, who identifies as an observant Orthodox Israeli Jew and is a member of the Yesh Atid party, called on Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi – Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef – to resign after Rabbi Yosef reportedly remarked that he would not validate conversions to Judaism made by Israel’s municipal rabbis. In November 2014, the State of Israel passed a law that ended the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on conversions to the Jewish faith. Rabbi Yosef stated that this law is invalid. A call to the Rabbinate on whether it would continue to validate parking went unanswered.
The March 2015 issue of Vogue magazine profiles Jared Kushner and his beloved wife, Ivanka Trump, and their love of Shabbat. They turn off their phones for 25 hours and Ivanka cooks for the family. Ivanka said, “From Friday to Saturday we don’t do anything but hang out with one another. We don’t make phone calls… It’s an amazing thing when you’re so connected to really sign off. And for Arabella [their daughter] to know that she has me, undivided one day a week? We don’t do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together. Pure family.” Ivanka added that in the past she has avoided discussing her conversion to the Jewish faith several years ago – being a very intimate and personal decision. She added, “It’s been such a great life decision for me. I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well.”
A front page metro story in The Washington Post reported on Barry Freundel, a once-influential D.C. Orthodox rabbi who led Kesher Israel in Georgetown, who admitted in DC Superior Count Thursday that he had secretly videotaped dozens of nude women as they prepared for their mikvah visits. Each of the 52 misdemeanor counts for Voyeurism carry a maximum sentence of one year. There were 100 other incidents, but they occurred to long ago to prosecute. Freundel is set to be sentenced May 15. At Thursday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Zubrensky said in addition to the camera in a clock radio, Freundel set up mini-cameras in a tissue box as well as a table-top fan. The synagogue is currently trying to evict the rabbi from his home, which is owned by the shul.
The March 2015 issue of ELLE Magazine profiles – like nearly every other publication, venue, UCLA Hillel and museum in NYC, Matthew Weiner and his final season of MAD MEN. The finale will be broadcast beginning in April. In the article, titled THE (MAD)MAN WHO LOVES WOMEN, 49 year old Weiner is quoted from a Paris Review interview in which he said that as a Jewish man who experienced anti-Semitism, he can sympathize with feminism… because he knows what it’s like to look over the side of the fence and then climb over the fence and feel like you don’t belong.
Jewish and other media reported over the past week on the burial of the Jewish volunteer synagogue guard in Copenhagen and how many Muslims in neighboring Oslo, Norway encircled a synagogue to protect it and rally. What wasn’t widely reported much outside of Copenhagen were the hundreds who attended the funeral of the Danish murderer (many say they were only there to honor his parents), and the dozens who prayed at the site where police captured and killed him after his terror spree.
Samuel G. Freedman reports in The New York Times on a Muslim scholar who teaches about Islam and the Holocaust. Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi, 44, is an assistant professor of religion at Manhattan College, and she teaches courses about both Islam and the Holocaust. She is a member of the ethics and religion committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Dr. Afridi is the Director of Manhattan College’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center (Manhattan College is located in The Bronx). In July, she will publish “Shoah Through Muslim Eyes.” Some Muslim critics say she is disloyal to chronicle a Jewish tragedy and to support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Dov HJikind, an Orthodox Jewish member of the state legislature in New York is also a critic, since her center studies genocides of Armenians and Cambodians and not just Jews.
Condolences to the family of Harris Wittels, a Jewish comedian from Houston who passed away this week at the young age of 30. The inventor of the term “HumbleBrag,” he was staff writer for The Sarah Silverman Show, and then for years at Parks and Recreation. He opened for Louis C.K. and performed other stand-up. A lot of his stand up was about drug abuse, and it appears that he succumbed to this abusive behavior.
The March 2015 of Town and Country has a short profile of documentary filmmaker Andrew Jarecki. Famous for his film, CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS, about a Long Island Jewish father and son who were perhaps falsely accused of sexually abusing teen boys who took a computer class with Mr. Friedman, his newest multi-episode doc – currently being shown on HBO, is about Robert Durst and his relations with his family and possible murder of his wife and others. THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ROBERT DURST, follows the family’s real estate fortune, and how Durst was tried and acquitted for three separate gruesome murders. Durst’s statements in the film has caught the interest of NYC area detectives who are investigating the 1982 disappearance of his wife. he said, “I am complicit in Kathie’s not being here.” Durst admitted killing and dismembering a neighbor in 2001 but was acquitted for that murder.
On the topic of murder, the Prague news reports that Czech police have arrested a suspect in the January 2014 murder of Ji?í Fiedler and his wife, Dagmar. The motive was most likely robbery, and the suspect who confessed was among their wide circle of acquaintances. Ji?í Fiedler, who was not Jewish, spent over 30 years documenting Jewish heritage sites in Czechoslovakia and the current Czech Republic.
The Economist has published a pretty graphic of Jewish populations by country since 1939. It is for a story on whether European Jews will move to Israel. At the same time, National Public Radio reports on some of the 9,000 Jews still living in the Islamic Republic of Iran. They say it is good and they are happy. Well that’s good enough for me. Thanks NPR.
Finally, in other fantasies, some viral videos never die, and this video from a 2012 Jewish wedding in which the couple rode in a a unicorn or a JEW-NICORN has gone viral again. The wedding was the match between Danny Rose, a producer of Scrubs, and Aaron Rosenberg, an entertainment lawyer.