I was talking to my friend Jana in Moscow. She wanted me to come visit and join her and her posse for the opening of hunting season on April 16th. However a) I don’t hunt b) It’s too close to Passover and c) I’m less than comfortable being the lone Jew amongst a group of well armed shady Russians in a remote location in a foreign country. So of course I had to decline. I effectively prevented the possibility of former Soviet apparatchiks taking pot shots at me but I cannot prevent others from doing the same at Jewlicious. In the last little while it seems this sort of thing has been happening at regular intervals and it could mean one of two things: That we have evolved so much that we are worthy of consideration or, a less optimistic view would be that we are in fact a bunch of drunken shit heads, or whatever it is we are being accused of. I’ll let you decide!

1. The Jewlicious Festival masquerades as a pluralistic event when in fact it is a thinly veiled Orthodox gathering: This accusation was made by Naomi Less, twice, once on her blog and once on the EJewish Philanthropy blog. Less’s overall point was that women were underrepresented in both the Jewish communal world and as performers at Jewish events. There is no doubt that women are often underrepresented in positions of authority in the organized Jewish community, but why pick on the Jewlicious Festival? Because we have an Orthodox Rabbi director? Less states that Kol Isha (the prohibition against hearing a woman’s voice in song) is why we do not have sufficient female performers at Jewlicious. Anyone familiar with the most basic tenets of Orthodox Judaism knows that there are differing opinions on Kol Isha and that if we were adherents to its strict application, we would never have any female performer in front of a mixed audience ever. I left long and detailed comments on both blogs, citing all the female performers we’ve had at Jewlicious but Naomi Less just doesn’t get it. Oh well.

2. Jewlicious is likened to right-wing nationalists and religious hardliners: That’s what Global Voices Online writer Bhumika Ghimire implied in describing a lawyer’s letter received by anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein. Bhumika described David Yerushalmi’s accusation of libel against Silverstein and then noted that I had called Silverstein the “veritable personification of moral decrepitude.” I don’t know who Yerushalmi is, but before Bhumika, as well as The Committee to Protect Bloggers rush to portray Siverstein as the poster boy for bloggers rights, it should be noted that he is the only Jewish blogger I know of to have ever used a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice, on more than one occasion no less. So much for free speech. Silverstein indeed seems to be a whiny bitch and a self righteous, hypocritical blowhard. As for Jewlicious? Yeah. We are indeed right-wing nationalists and religious hardliners. Hashem Hu Akbar!!

3. Jewlicious holds a common bias against the Jewish convert, pegging them as somehow less authentic than those born in to the Jewish community: That criticism was leveled by Steven Philp (not a typo!) in the Moment Magazine blog in a post criticizing my own quasi-light hearted post about Elizabeth Taylor’s recent passing. In it I made light of her association with the Kabbalah Center. Steven however went all nutso and surmised that Jewlicious has an issue regarding the authenticity of Jewish converts. I would urge Steven to read this recent post about another, less glamorous convert to Judaism and tell me that I have an issue with converts. Go ahead. I’ll wait. La la la la la. In the meantime, read From Rafah To Tabah, an awesome travelogue by Arieh O’Sullivan who drives along Israel’s isolated border with Egypt.

4. Jewlicious almost made Richard Wexler’s head explode: Wendy wrote a post detailing the uhm… ins and outs of sex on Birthright Israel trips. I didn’t find it that outrageous and I was surprised that in all the years that Birthright Israel has been around, no one else thought to write a similar guide. It was informative, straightforward, honest and funny and honestly, we never intended to almost make anyone’s head explode, let alone that of Federation critic Richard Wexler. Sorry, but you know, the post wasn’t really meant for you, Richard. It was meant for those kids that flood this Israel every season and don’t know how to ask for a bathroom (shirutim btw) let alone how to make inquiries about the health of their nether regions…

5. Gary Rosenblatt, Editor of the New York Jewish Week, claims that Jewish outreach efforts to young people make too frequent use of alcohol as an enticement. A Jewlicious program at the 2010 General Assembly is cited: What? We did two Art of L’Chaim programs, one at the GA and one at TribeFest and now we’re part of this Bacchanalian trend? The GA was not an outreach effort for young Jews and most of the attendees at TribeFest were closer to 40 than 20. There was no visible inebriation at any of these events and why pick on us? Jewlicious Festivals are officially dry – just ask the Coconut man. Back to TribeFest, Rosenblatt cites ” nine open bars each evening,” I have no idea what he’s talking about, and I was there. And sober. Sure there was alcohol, and lots of it. But Jews don’t really drink, certainly not as much as the, well, you know… and besides, we’re definitely not puritans.

6. Ben Murane, aka KungFuJew over at Jewschool, commenting on our coverage of the JFNA’s TribeFest, called us “court bloggers.” – Funny, TribeFest was officially covered by Heeb and Jewcy as well, but WE are the court bloggers. Some things may have changed at Jewschool, but some things apparently never change. But go ahead. Read Ben’s post where he takes up the mantle of the emergent Jewish community (which Jewschool in no way represents in reality) – they can use the traffic.

OK, that’s it! For now anyway. I hope I didn’t offend anyone too much. Naomi Less is a wonderful musician and performer, Global Voices Online is really quite a good blog, I’ve been reading Moment forever because they’re great, Richard Wexler drives me to know more about the organized Jewish community, Gary Rosenblatt cares greatly about the Jewish community, as does Ben Murane and both are very handsome men.

If things get too hairy I guess I can always take a Hunter safety course

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Like hunting in the FSU… they always aim for the high flyer, so I am not surprised that bloggers, looking to get more pageviews, try to knock the blog/site/event that seems threatening

    • Naw Larry, it’s all good. I mean it’s better to be criticized then to be ignored, innit? I seriously don’t mind any of it.

    • I’m sure if you would have written a post on Goldstone or on what’s going on in the Arab world right now, someone would have inevitably picked on you. As it stands, I still hold that Israel shouldn’t fear a little transparency and that it was a mistake not to cooperate with Goldstone. But that’s a comment for another post no?

  • Your point is well-taken, but misguided insofar that it wasn’t my intent (“nutso” or otherwise) to accuse Jewlicious of a general anti-Jew-by-choice bias. Yet it is important to point out that the experience of many converts – myself included – is to have the authenticity of our Jewishness questioned on a regular basis; the popularity of the Kabbalah Center (with its celebrity practitioners), and its negative reputation within the Jewish community, doesn’t help. I indicate no malicious intent on your part, but rather wanted to point out how an offhanded comment – meant as a joke, as mentioned in my post – can strike those sensitive to the issue as insensitive, since it draws from real, deep-seated biases within our community. An imperfect but useful allegory is the comment “That’s so gay,” which doesn’t necessarily originate in homophobia, but can cause members of the LGBT community to feel marginalized.

    If anything, the article was meant to be a celebration of Liz Taylor’s Jewishness. Which is something not many media outlets have done, Jewlicious and Moment aside.

    That said, I really appreciated your Ian Baron article (I read every Jewlicious post; gotta love RSS feeds). I even shared it with some friends.

    • OK then you’re forgiven 😉 – but seriously it’s all good! The Kabbalah Center reference at the end was awkward anyway given that the celebrities mentioned passed on way before the Center was in existence. Also I really do love Moment. So… how about y’all do a follow up post about Ian Baron? You don’t even have to mention Jewlicious. Let’s just get the word out and hope it inspires clemency? Whaddaya say? Pidyon Shvui’m is a big deal in Judaism and Ian isn’t some Haredci fraudster or Rubashkin family member or Bernie Madoff. Nu?

  • It is so much easier to try to bring others down that to raise one’s own game. Learned that lesson so often in Eastern Europe when ever we would see someone make great strides or progress, there where a minyan of people trying to bring them down.

    Jewlicious remains the most open gathering in America. With 55 campuses represented and 17 states this year, we continue to attract Jews from all across the spectrum, and the country.

    There is a great story of a young woman who drove down from Oregon to be there. She is from a small town, nothing Jewish going on there, and wanted camaraderie. There are the young adults that flew in from Salt Lake City and Louisville. They are not orthodox, conservative or reform. They are just Jewish and want to be around Jews for the most amazing weekend around.