Trafficking in Treyf

In North America this weekend, the film adaptation of the book, Eat Pray Love, opens with James Franco and Julia Roberts in the leads, as Elizabeth Gilbert suffers through a divorce and decides to go to countries that start with the letter “I” in search of herself. She flies to Italy, India, and Indonesia. Wait… isn’t there another spiritual “I” country that she is missing…. Oh yeah, … Ireland. I guess she visits that one after divorce #2.

Speaking of #2, a restaurant named TRAIF got reviewed in The New York Times this week. The logo has a piggy. Jason Marcus opened it in Williamsburg Brooklyn with his gf, Heather Heuser. The Times points out that Marcus, who holds a degree in Philosophy, is Jewish; Heather is hot not. On the menu? pork bellies, seafood, and steak covered in blue-cheese.

Blue-cheese is one of the many, actually the all, foods that Muslims avoid during the daylight hours of Ramadan. Ramadan began this week, and in addition to co-workers and friends fasting during the day, a small controversy has developed among a few. The Washington Post reports that Muslims in America are questioning whether to follow the sighting of the moon using locals clerics, the cleric in their native country, anther cleric whom they follow, the local mosque (which in Northern Virginia is the local synagogue) , Mecca, or astronomical calculations. Many complain that it has become very political and not religious…

You shouldn't date an Israeli for Ramadan??

Speaking of political and Ramadan, London’s Friends of Al-Aqsa are promoting their Boycott Israel (Click to see youtube video)project this Ramadan. Since dates are an important traditional part in the Ramadan daily break-fast meal, they are asking Muslims to boycott Israeli grown dates. I swear, at first I thought the British campaign was about avoiding dating Israelis during the month of Ramadan. Sadly, their websites and videos are grotesque, inaccurate, filled with lies, and an embarrassment to the ideals of Ramadan. But who am I to complain?

On the topic of complaints, few are complaining in Jenin, where the Cinema Jenin reopened last week after being closed for 23 years. With funds from Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Germany, several German institutes, and others. To avert problems, the films shown are selected by a committee that includes the mufti of Jenin.

On the topic of committees, The NYT’s front page reported this week that when Daisy Khan started to plan five years ago for the Muslim community center that is causing some controversies in lower Manhattan, she met with Joy Levitt, the executive director of Manhattan’s Upper West Side JCC. Joy’s advice? Make room for lots of strollers. Daisy and her husband tried to create their “Muslim Y” back in 1999, but their financing fell through. The essence of the article… the Khan’s and their backers took the right steps, but failed at the PR game. (By the way, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, one of the leaders of the planned Park51 mosque, has been asked by the US State Department to visit Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE as a representative of the USA to discuss religious tolerance and diversity in America. He visited Egypt earlier this year for the U.S. State Department)

Someone who did not fail at the PR game is Ira Rennert. Ira and his wife, Inga, threw a party with kosher Chinese food for ninety at their Hamptons (NY) house. Set on over 60 acres, their home boasts 29 bedrooms and 39 bathrooms (that’s a lot of toilet tissue to keep in stock). Oh. And the house has its own synagogue. Did I mention there are 300 mezuzot in the home? And the party was for Jewlicious The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan (just a few blocks South of the former WTC) and its Mah Jongg exhibit. No word on whether the children of La Oroyo, Peru enjoy eating Chinese food or playing Mah Jongg.

Maira Kalman, Maira Kalman

Mah Jongg is not my thing, so I am suggesting you visit The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco where you can see Maira Kalman artworks, and they will bottle pickles and have a RitLab (Ritual Lab) Do It Yourself (DIY) pickle jar crafts project, led by Hazon and Wilderness Torah.

Two people who probably like pickles are Mariam and Noam, two interns profiled in the Washington Post this week. They are interning at New Story Leadership for the Middle East, a new low budget operation that sponsers five Israeli and five Palestinian youth with DC internships. Others who might like pickles and boos by Hans Wehr are the American university students profiled this week in The New York Times who are spending their Junior years abroad not in Paris or London or Shanghai, but in Beirut, Cairo, Amman, or other Arabic speaking cities. Many of these students are Jewish, and several of them already speak Hebrew. They hope to improve their understanding of colloquial Arabic and Middle Eastern culture.

I plan to spend my Junior year abroad at Camp Jewlicious, eating Israel grown dates, California pickles and learning Mah Jongg.

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