Sigh. I was looking forward to an interesting Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S. There is that new Heeb Issue to read or browse, and not buy, at the Barnes and Noble bookstore. There is actually a great Jewish film fest going on in the major cities. AMREEKA opened on Friday, and is the sweet story of a Palestinian mother and son who come to Illinois for a “better life.” Of course, HANGOVER is still playing nationwide, which stars a Jewish dentist and his buddies at a bachelor party in Vegas. I will not even mention INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. What’s next? Let’s make a comedy about the Cambodian genocide. TAKING WOODSTOCK, about a gay Jewish guy and his parents and the creation of the Woodstock fest 30 years ago. YOO HOO MRS GOLDBERG is still playing and is a must see, as is the BIG LEBOWSKI in NYC. TICKLING LEO also opened this weekend, as did ART AND COPY. So who needs a Jewish film fest, when you can just run around between NYC theaters and make your own?

So, what am I grumbling about? How was the weekend marred? I am angered by the front page story in The NY Post, a story which was then picked up by local NYC television news programs. The tabloid tells the story of a rabbi in Queens, NY, who is a martial arts specialist and a former NYPD police officer, who is training rabbis in martial arts and firearms so that they can protect their synagogues over the High Holy Days.

As for the story… A Queens NY rabbi has created a Mazel-Toughs group of rabbis with guns who will give sermons and also pistol whip any terrorists who try to attack their high holiday services: Their name – The International Security Coalition of Clergy. In another story they are also named the Tzedek Task Force on Counter Terrorism. What the “reporters,” Reuven Fenton and Andy Geller, forget to mention is how the rabbi got fired from his first pulpit (and then tried to create his own shul to compete with them). They also did not go into depth on how the rabbi was fired from his position in the police department, how he sued for his job back, and how the appellate courts sustained the decision to fire him. But hey, it made for a good cover story, didn’t it? (Of course, just cuz you got fired by the NYPD and got fired from your first pulpit doesn’t mean you are not fit to be a community leader and rabbi)

There should be a new sentence in the liturgy… Al Cheyt… For the sin that we have committed by letting reporters do a story on our community that makes us look like imbeciles.

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  • Please let me know how you liked Inglorious Basterds. My brother said he’d expected “more”.

    As for that rabbi, sounds like the story could be set in the Wild West back in the day.

  • frankly, i don’t think its such a bad thing for rabbis to know martial arts. the bit about guns and the concept that a martial arts trained, gun weilding rabbi could protect an entire congregation against terrorists is a bit absurd. yet, iff they are aware that terrorism is a threat then maybe at least they will hire more trained personel?

  • I’ve got a crazy story for you.

    Norman Finkelstein resigned from the coalition he helped build for a mass demonstration on the Gaza border to break the siege. He left a statement on the front page of his website.

    Here it is:
    Why I resigned from the Gaza Freedom March coalition:

    The original consensus of the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza was that we would limit our statement to a pair of uncontroversial, basic and complementary principles that would have the broadest possible appeal: the march to break the siege would be nonviolent and anchored in international law. I agreed with this approach and consequent statement and decided to remove myself from the steering committee in order to invest my full energies in mobilizing for the march. During the week beginning August 30, 2009 and in a matter of days an entirely new sectarian agenda dubbed “the political context” was foisted on those who originally signed on and worked tirelessly for three months. Because it drags in contentious issues that–however precious to different constituencies–are wholly extraneous to the narrow but critical goal of breaking the siege this new agenda is gratuitously divisive and it is almost certain that it will drastically reduce the potential reach of our original appeal. It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition’s statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration. In addition the tactics by which this new agenda was imposed do not bode well for the future of the coalition’s work and will likely move the coalition in an increasingly sectarian direction. I joined the coalition because I believed that an unprecedented opportunity now exists to mobilize a broad public whereby we could make a substantive and not just symbolic contribution towards breaking the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza and, accordingly, realize a genuine and not just token gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza. In its present political configuration I no longer believe the coalition can achieve such a goal. Because I would loathe getting bogged down in a petty and squalid public brawl I will not comment further on this matter unless the sequence of events climaxing in my decision to resign are misrepresented by interested parties. However I would be remiss in my moral obligations were I not humbly to apologize to those who, either coaxed by me or encouraged by my participation, gave selflessly of themselves to make the march a historic event and now feel aggrieved at the abrupt turn of events. It can only be said in extenuation that I along with many others desperately fought to preserve the ecumenical vision that originally inspired the march but the obstacles thrown in our path ultimately proved insurmountable.

  • They should work to break the “siege” on the Egyptian side. On the Israeli side, whenever they open the crossings, the Palestinian terror groups like Hamas try to send terrorists to commit attacks in Israel.

    It’s that simple.