Etgar Keret squeezes through a front door (credit: Wojtek Radwanski)

So much news, I just couldn’t let a day go by without sharing some timbits of news.

First, did you hear that the CEO of Empire Kosher poultry has flown the coop. He was removed from his position after the the deal to acquire another kosher poultry processor went sour., the news magazine of poultry processors, reports that Empire Kosher Poultry Inc., the largest supplier of kosher poultry in the US, fired its Greg Rosembaum on Oct. 10. He has tried to acquire MVP Kosher Foods, the second largest supplier of kosher poultry in North America. The company clucked at and denies some of his assertions.

Israeli short story author, Etgar Keret, has had a very thin house named for him in Warsaw’s Old Jewish area. Warsaw’s Polskie Radio reports that “Keret House” is the creation of architect Jakub Szczesny. It is just 152 cm at its widest point, and was built in the narrow space between two existing buildings on the corners of ChÅ‚odna and Å»elazna streets. The townhouse is close to the spot where his mother, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, smuggled food during WWII. The New York Times provides a photo essay on the space here.

As for Jewish jocks… The world awaits the publication of “Jewish Jocks,” a collection of essays edited by Franklin Foer and Marc (Tablet) Tracy. David Plotz, the editor of and a contributor to the book interviewed Foer for Slate. In the essay, they discuss Jewish contributions to modern boxing, baseball, soccer, football, basketball, and even bullfighting. Some says that the book will be the biggest contribution to North American Jewish Pride since the 1967 War.

Forgetting Jewish jocks for a moment and pondering Jewish characters on TV, the freakish fashion photographer, Terry Richardson, has shot the men of the HBO hit series, GIRLS, for a Fall issue of GQ Magazine. The spreads and shots can be seen on his blog here. Not included in Skyler Astin, who played Matt, the Camp Ramah nudnik, who declined to have sexual intercourse with Shoshana when he learned that she was a virgin.

Speaking of Camp Ramah, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reports that a rabbi in New Jersey was irritated that “613” rabbis came out for President Obama in the upcoming U.S. Presidential election campaign. He is against clerics endorsing candidates. In response, he has created Rabbis for Romney. You can read about it and Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg here. Georgetown University hosted a conference on The Jewish Vote this week. The Washington Post blogged about it and analyzed why the Jewish vote is changing and asks which candidate has earned it. See a Georgetown video here.

Which makes me think of Boca Burgers. Condolences to the family of Dr Praeger. Dr. Peter Praeger was a heart surgeon who once saved a man’s life on Christmas Eve. The man had been struck by a drunk driver and his aorta had ruptured. In return, the man’s brother in law sold the doctor his failing gefilte fish company. It was transformed into a successful natural-foods company: Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods. This was known as Gefilta-care and preceded Obamacare.

To wit, mazel tov on the opening of a new Jewishy play in Manhattan, The Other Josh Cohen.” Josh Cohen arrives home to his apartment to find that a burglar has robbed him of every single scrap of possessions except for a Neil Diamond CD. Did the burglar forget it, or was the burglar criticizing Cohen’s taste in music? To a Neil Diamond score, the audience is treated to a story of his life, his parents, girlfriends, his future self, and much more.

Another stage debut of interest is “The Book Thief,” currently playing in Chicago. The book by Markus Zusak has sold 2.5 million copies in just the United States. It has ben extended through mid November at The Steppenwolf. It is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl struggling to survive in Nazi Germany. Her life is filled with risk and danger but her love of books guides is powerful. The character of “Death” watches over her, fascinated by a human’s will to live. Did I mention that Jewish man is being hidden in the basement? The Book Thief looks at the terrible cost of violence, bearing witness to our compassion and complicity.

All this news makes me hungry, so I close with a story from this week’s BBC. Magdi AbdelHadi reports on Tunisian Jews, a tiny community of perhaps 1500 that is hanging on – and cooking. Abdelhadi reports that since the fall of President Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali last year, there have been a few staged rallies of Salafists who shouted “Death to the Jews.”

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  • •The Blog
    •Election 2012
    •Campus & Community.
    •Arts & Culture.
    •Global Jewish Voice.

    The Conspiracy
    New Beginnings: Jewish Votes and Values.

    Election 2012, The Conspiracy | October 25, 2012 by Stacey R. Hamman | 0 Comments.

    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, founder of Rabbis for Romney.

    Jerusalem, ISRAEL — The High Holy Days have now come and gone, and the Torah cycle has begun afresh. Rolling open our Torahs to Genesis has brought the religious Jewish world into a reflection of all things new: A new year, a new school season, a new expression of our best intentions.

    Those of us in Israel are also living amid new, uncertain international dynamics:

    The Arab Spring has drenched the arid landscape around us and continues to gurgle toxic steam as some of our neighbors shift uneasily into their newly defined governments– many which have become wild cards in respect to Israel– while others like Syria are intentionally destroying many of their own people in their struggle to maintain power. And while the world waits for the United Nations to take up its professed purpose “in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights,” Syria’s 20-month civil war – the arsenal of President Bashar “No Consequences” al-Assad versus rebel fighters in full expression of the Arab Spring versus hundreds and thousands more civilians who get in the way – has left 30,000 people dead.

    Not to ignore the deeply apprehensible human slaughter going on around us, Israel’s responsibility to protect its own people demands of Israel’s government a heightened sensitivity to the Arab Spring turned tumultuous sea—and a greater awareness of what to expect for our little Middle East democracy in the years to come.

    We look across the sea, as well, to our historically No. 1 ally caught up in the fervor of the upcoming elections to newly define the political leanings of the U.S. majority. Israelis necessarily take notice of each platform’s policy with respect to Israel; but, even there, the debate has fallen not just to the presidential contenders.

    Hundreds of U.S. rabbis – mostly Reform, Conservative or Reconstructionist – following a traditional Jewish lean toward voting Democrat collaborated behind President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 under the title “Rabbis for Obama,” and more than doubled their number for the 2012 campaign.

    In recent weeks, Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg from Congregation Beth El Edison, New Jersey – as a registered Democrat – began a countermeasure grassroots campaign called “Rabbis for Romney,” making an appeal to the more than 600 “Rabbis for Obama” to rethink their support of the incumbent president, and “to address the concerns of the Jewish voters concerning the State of Israel and the preservation of authentic Biblical values.”.

    As the only public member of his campaign, Rosenberg says he will not divulge the names of the other Rabbis for Romney to protect them from the severe criticism he has endured. Rosenberg’s demonstration of his constitutional freedoms has incited Internet comments calling for him to be burned in a gas chamber.

    “I don’t want to happen to them what happened to me,” he said. “I’ve been attacked like you’ve never heard—by rabbis, Democrats. I am a registered Democrat. I voted twice for Clinton. I’ve also been a Republican. This has nothing to do with party politics.”.

    Rosenberg’s creation of “Rabbis for Romney” in order to counterbalance the politicized Jewish bima (pulpit) within the pro-Obama campaign undoubtedly provides a morale-boosting endorsement of American Jews whose values are more deeply consistent with those of the Republican Party—giving them courage to vote their values, though it goes against “majority Jewish tradition.”.

    “Because of our tradition,” says Reb Tevye the Milkman in Fiddler on the Roof, “every one of us knows who he is and what G-d expects him to do.” The reality is that tradition defines a structure of identity for the Jewish people, which we perpetuate as faithfully as the customs of our immediate families. I have a Jewish friend who votes Democrat because his parents vote Democrat—only because it is their family tradition.

    However, as true as it was for Reb Tevye’s daughters to move away from pure familial tradition, The Solomon Project’s survey of exit polls between 1972 and 2008 showed, since 1984, the younger generation – Jewish voters under 30 – as least likely to vote Democratic compared to other age groups, and those age 60 or above as most likely to maintain the Democratic trend.

    According to Rosenberg, most Jews are living in the past.

    “The Democratic Party of today is not the one of yesterday. At the recent Democratic convention, they booed Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. The message was clear. We are dealing with a party that was hijacked by Moslems, Leftists, socialists and Israel haters—and that is a very bad sign,” Rosenberg said to News Blaze Op-Ed contributor Nurit Greenger. “I am not certain what a Republican victory would mean for the future of the United States. I do know, however, what the present path means, and that scares me beyond adequate words.”.

    With parents that survived Auschwitz, Rosenberg’s unflinching understanding is that the security of Israel – the only nation promising indefinite refuge to any Jewish person – is vital to the security and existence of the Jews as a people.

    “‘Anti-Israel’ has become the code word for anti-Semitism, and every Jew in the United States must understand this,” Rosenberg told Greenger. “Whether Zionist or not, the fate of Israel is inexorably tied up with the fate of Jews worldwide.”.

    If the safety and longevity of Israel is the most important question on the table, can we be courageous enough to ask ourselves the tough questions?

    Such as: Are we defending our traditional political party more than we are defending our traditional identity?

    In the end, no matter which side of the aisle you sit, your obligation does not end November 6. As an American, I encourage you to fulfill your responsibility as an American, to vote. As a Jew, I encourage you to fulfill your responsibility as a Jew—to know yourself and to protect your identity and your people.

    “The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.”—Adam Smith.

    To know yourself is to know your origins, your identity and your future, and as a Jew, to know that you are responsible to advocate for the Nation of Israel’s existence. For in Israel’s existence, you will continue to exist.

  • Head of Rabbis for Romney: ‘The pulpit is for Torah, not politics’.

    Bernhard Rosenberg says he only launched his group to balance Rabbis for Obama, wants the election taken out of the synagogue, calls Obama ‘a fine man’ who isn’t doing enough on Iran.

    By Haviv Rettig GurOctober 22, 2012, 2:52 pm8.

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    •Rabbis for Romney.
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    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg didn’t expect his small but heartfelt initiative to cause such a ruckus. Yet two weeks before a close election, the founder of a group calling itself “Rabbis for Romney” is bound to draw attention.

    <img class="size-s195x293 wp-image-257528" title="Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg (photo credit: Courtesy)" src="×293.jpg&quot; alt="Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg (photo credit: Courtesy)" width="195" height="293" />.
    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg (photo credit: Courtesy).

    The group, an informal collection of rabbis without a detailed platform or petition, has already drawn fire from the Huffington Post and avid support from right-wing Jewish commentators online. While some expressed support for the initiative, Rosenberg has fallen prey to the Internet’s rancor, with one commentator calling for him to be burned in a gas chamber.

    For Rosenberg, the divisiveness alone is proof of the need for balance. His group was set up in response to Rabbis for Obama, a group comprising Jewish pro-Obama activists that organized a petition signed by hundreds of rabbis seeking to counter criticism of the president’s policies in some parts of the Jewish community.

    “We’re a grassroots operation,” Rosenberg told The Times of Israel this week, his euphemism for the lack of any support or institutional ties to the Republican Party, right-wing institutions or Jewish groups.

    In fact, Rosenberg only decided to launch the group “because I don’t believe rabbis should be for Romney, or Obama, or anybody.” It was only when Democrats decided to launch a public campaign equating the rabbinate with support for Obama that Rosenberg felt he needed to balance the message.

    “In the case of Obama, I have nothing personally against him; I think he’s a fine man. I think he’s trying hard. But he hasn’t, in my opinion, done enough, particularly for the State of Israel, to make me feel comfortable that Israel will not be under attack by Iran and will be nuked, in which case another Holocaust will happen. If you ask me, ‘Can another Holocaust happen?’ The answer is yes.”.

    When Rosenberg compares the Iranian threat to the Holocaust, it would be a mistake to hear glibness. Rosenberg was born in a displaced persons camp in post-war Europe, the child of Polish-born Holocaust survivors. He has written several books about the Holocaust, including educational works for teenagers.

    While he campaigns publicly to unseat Obama from the presidency, he refuses to bring his politics to the pulpit.

    “I’ve heard from a colleague, a rabbi who spoke about Obama on Rosh Hashanah — a lot of rabbis spoke about Obama from the pulpit on Rosh Hashana, which is against IRS rules, but they did it – I’ve heard this guy was railroaded out of town, because there were a few Republicans in the audience who took major offense.”.

    And, he believes, congregants are right to reject politics from their pulpits. “The pulpit is a place for Torah, not a place for politics,” he affirms.

    “My personal philosophy is that unless a candidate is anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist, I do not speak on behalf or against anyone.” Obama, he explains, is none of those. “He’s not an anti-Semite. I don’t buy into that. He’s not anti-Israel.”.

    Isn’t there a contradiction between calling for a politics-free pulpit and identifying himself as a “Rabbi for Romney?”.

    “This country right now is completely divided in this election,” Rosenberg says. “There’s hatred on both sides. There’s disgust on both sides.”.

    For his part, “I have no incentive to do this. I’m not being offered a job. All I’m getting is hate mail. But you know what? You have to speak out. I’m speaking out. At best, [Republicans] are going to get 25-30 percent of the Jewish vote — at best. So any rabbi speaking out about Romney, considering that most Jews are Democrats, is looking for nothing but trouble. I know I’m making a difference by the very fact that I’m being attacked like there’s no tomorrow.” He points to online comments on articles about him as proof.

    So why is he doing it?

    It’s important to offset the perception that Jews are “unthinking” Democrats, he explains. Jews must be courted by the parties –- a fact that Rabbis for Obama seems to be trying to obfuscate, he believes.

    In showing political variety in the Jewish community, he believes he is making a dent in the partisanship and divisiveness on display in the election.

  • —–

    Subject: Fwd: Lori, re: Rabbis For Romney – Surprising Leadership.

    The Sheer, Small-L Liberalism of ‘Rabbis for Romney’.

    The man behind that organization is not a partisan individual. He's a registered Democrat, who didn't want there to be rabbis united for only one candidate.

    By: Lori Lowenthal Marcus.

    Published: October 22nd, 2012.


    tell a friend.

    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg.

    Despite recent polls suggesting Jews may not be voting as a monolithic bloc for the Democratic ticket, at least in this presidential race, it still has to be lonely being a rabbi who has publicly committed to supporting Mitt Romney for U.S. president. And it must be even lonelier for someone who publicly committed to creating an organization called “Rabbis for Romney.”.

    But when you talk to the man behind that organization, you discover that not only is he not lonely, he is not a particularly partisan individual. In fact, he’s a registered Democrat, whose sole purpose for starting Rabbis for Romney is that he didn’t want there to be rabbis united for only one candidate, when he knows that there are Jews who also support Romney.

    And while, unlike Rabbis for Obama, Rabbis for Romney does not boast hundreds of members, Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg is confident that the hundreds of hours and thousands of emails he has written has had an impact. He knows there are people who are just a little bit better informed because of the efforts he and his dozens of volunteers have put in.

    Rabbi Rosenberg makes it very clear that he is not a conspiracy theorist and he insists that “the president of the United States deserves our respect,” he explained to The Jewish Press.


  • Rabbi Rosenberg From “Rabbi’s 4 Romney” Writes An Urgent Plea To The “613 Rabbi’s ‘For’ Obama”.

  • The DC Post – editorial it will go to press on TOMORROW BEN ROSENBERG.

    Sept 6, 2012.

    The man behind "Rabbis for Romney."

    My conversation with Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg.

    By Michael Podwill.

    Exactly one week ago, my editorial, "About those 'Rabbis for Obama,' " appeared in The DC Post. Read it here: On Labor Day, I had the privilege of speaking with Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, a gentleman who stands determined to create "Rabbis for Romney."

    Before we spoke, I assumed that politics would be at the core of the rabbi's conviction. It certainly is regarding my own sense that Barack Obama, on the basis of his pernicious presidential performance, by no means merits re-election. For the good of America and for America's interests and allies worldwide, including Israel, I'm convinced that a Romney presidency will serve us far better.

    But Rabbi Rosenberg's principal point is something else. This spiritual leader at Edison, New Jersey's conservative Congregation Beth-El is emphatic in conveying that his interest in "Rabbis for Romney" is apolitical — at least in the conventional sense.

    "I'm not advocating here for either candidate," the rabbi affirmed. What is it then that makes "Rabbis for Romney" so vital? Simply this: The rabbi wants Jews to be represented in a real and accurate light. When our media-dependent society hears only about "Rabbis for Obama," the erroneous conclusion some might draw is that Jews unilaterally support Obama. That's incorrect. While a big majority of Jewish votes (some 64%, according to a June Gallup poll) will indeed go Democratic, the remainder will go to Mr. Romney.

    The rabbi explained his position: "I want America and the world to know that it's not just rabbis for one candidate only." Again, he isn't speaking as a political pollster. In a world of hardball, where "fairness" is just a politician's hollow promise, the rabbi sees great danger in Democrats taking the Jewish vote for granted — and Republicans mistakenly assuming that Jewish support is beyond the pale.

    In short, Rabbi Rosenberg is determined to maximize the value of the Jewish vote to both sides. Let Democrats and Republicans alike earn Jewish support — through their words and deeds. That support should not be assumed by anyone — or any party. Be assured, the value of Jewish votes is indeed real. Though few in number, Jews are concentrated in critical states like New York, California and, of utmost importance this year, Florida. Then there's this: The percentage of Jewish voters is enormous; eligible Jewish voters vote.

    The rabbi's realpolitik approach is undoubtedly based upon personal history. His Polish-born parents endured the horrors of Buchenwald and Auschwitz. Somehow they survived, but their own parents and their children were massacred by Hitler's Nazis. After the war, the couple were sent to a displaced persons camp in Regensburg, Germany where, 64 years ago, their son Bernhard was born. Four years later, this family, these survivors, made their way to a new life in America.

    Today, Rabbi Rosenberg is a Holocaust scholar and his books include two acknowledged classics: "Theological and Halakhic References on the Holocaust" and "Contemplating the Holocaust." Having suffered first hand from the darkest ravages of anti-Semitism, the rabbi is determined to do all he can to ensure another Holocaust won't happen.

    "I don't want Jews pegged as being on one side or another," the rabbi said, "because as history so often teaches us, that ultimately leads to anti-Semitism." Today, we have to be more vigilant than ever — because anti-Semitism is on the rise again — in America and worldwide. And yes, despite the timeless admonition of "Never again," another Holocaust can happen for sure.

    As I wrote last week, it's my belief that "Rabbis for Obama" is, more than anything, a well-funded political/PR phenomenon. Any way you look at it, Rabbi Rosenberg's "Rabbis for Romney" is surely going against the popular grain, and against a media monolith. You might call him David against an organizational Goliath. But the rabbi bears an important message. And you can be sure that his message will be heard.

    Note: To join "Rabbis for Romney," please contact.

    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg at

    Michael Podwill’s Viewpoints appear in The DC Post on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He is a freelance writer and a creative marketing/advertising consultant. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Michaelpodwill.