On Yom Yerusalayim this week, I thought of the golden city, and I am sure numerous Israelis played Naomi Shemer’s Jerusalem of Gold song, a piece that she quickly wrote for a vote counting interlude at the 1967 Israel Music Festival and song contest. Weeks later, the Six Day War erupted. But can you imagine my surprise when I listened to Leil Leibovitz’s story on the song on Vox Tablet? Ahhh.. the sweet smell of revisionism and truth. I suppose most Israelis know the story, but few in America have heard it. We mainly know the chorus, and few know the song’s translation. But in the pdcast Leibovitz recalls the contest and how the song was composed and first performed. But he also interviews the composer of “Jerusalem of Steel and Lead” which took issue with the war and Shemer’s false, anti-Arab, impression of an “empty” pre-War city. The podcast also includes the Basque song on which â€œYerushalayim Shel Zahavâ€ is based (or some would say plagiarized). Shemer said, before her death, in a private letter, that perhaps the Basque tune was, itself, based on a Jewish converso song.On the topic of gold, steel or lead, here is a reason to visit Ashdod and the Ashdod Museum of Art. The museum is exhibiting the works of artist and designer, Dan Reisinger, a winner of the Israel Prize. Reisinger, who was born in what is now Serbia, is the child and grandchild of artists. He was raised around the smell of paint, and as a preschooler, he thought of each day of the week as a different color. I am sure you know his design work… logos for companies including El Al, Delek, the Israel Ministry of Tourism, and Carmel. I was shocked. You mean not all logos have to be blue and white?
Speaking of colors or the perception of differences, Gabrielle Birkner of The Forward and The Sisterhood blog, writes in the WSJ about the dispute among Orthodox rabbis in America and Israel about fertility treatments and whether the birth mother, surrogate or genetic egg donor need to be of the Jewish faith,and on the Knesset’s legislation on egg donors. She quotes a Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman as imagining a scenario in which one day in the future, a rabbi asks how the bride and the groom were conceived, before officiating at their wedding.
In the ongoing KaganWatch in Washington DC, members of the Jewish media are kvelling over a story about Kagan being the first female Bat Torah at NYC’s Lincoln Square (then known as Wink and Stare) modern orthodox synagogue. While she was barred from publicly reading from the torah or haftorah, she was allowed to speak on the Book of Ruth on a Friday evening. The New York Times writes about her “bat mitzvah” and on the neighborhood in which she was raised, while the Village Voice blogs that the story on how Kagan comforted a crying bar mitzvah on Lincoln Square as a teenager is a coded beard story on her not being gay. The Washington Post joins the tumult(y) with a Style story on whether busybody sexual orietation stories are DISorienting.
Talk about disorienting… The Los Angeles Times reports that some area Jewish defense groups are taking issue with those groups that liken Arizona’s anti illegal immigration law to those of the Nazis. In another chapter to the DON’T TOUCH MY HOLOCAUST book, some of the groups that took issue with Japanese Americans calling their WWII American internment camps “concentration camps,” are denouncing those that dare to compare Arizona’s tough new immigration law with those of Nazi Germany. Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles called those comparisons “inappropriate and irresponsible,” and added that although the group opposes the new Arizona law, there is no need to “demonize opponents, even when they are mistaken, to those whose actions led to history’s most notorious crime…. We don’t need on top of everything else invoking imagery that is inappropriate… This type of language is toxic, is not accurate and makes the whole issue more difficult, not less difficult, to resolve.”
The San Jose Mercury News, is focusing on the real story, namely Shavuot. It writes that in the Bay Area, Hillel of Silicon Valley is hosting a “Death by Cheesecake” party; Outdoorsy “Wilderness Torah” types are camping under the stars Tuesday night for a “night of revelation” on Mount Tamalpais; and Reboot, renting out the California Academy of Sciences on Saturday night to host a star-studded evening they’re calling “Dawn 2010.” Of course, there is also the JCC in Berkeley or the JCC in Manhattan or in West London or in your own city for Tikkun. (There is still time to fly to San Francisco or West London)
Finally, I am saving up my $12.50 and skipping ROBIN HOOD. I will wait a week for the post Shavuot opening of HOLY ROLLERS. If you can’t be patient for one more week, I suggest that you head to London for opening of two Israeli films, EYES WIDE OPEN, and LEBANON. Or check out IRON MAN 2, where the evil senator, played by a waxy faced Garry Shandling, is named Senator Stern of Pennsylvania; GREENBERG, in which Ben Stiller plays a misanthrope; or DADDY LONGLEGS, by Josh and Ben Safdie, the sons of famed Israeli-raised architect, Moshe Safdie. And there is always post-storm Cannes in the South of France, where you can score a ticket to SIMON WERNER A DISPARU; Oliver Stone’s new WALL STREET film; Woody Allen’s latest UK produced film, YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER; or you can get a free hickey at the screening of the Israeli short, EZRA RISHONA (FIRST AID), by director Yarden Karmin