The NY Post reports that Dan Miller is suing the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan. His suit alleges that the hotel charged him $146 to get a special hot kosher meal during a conference, but they sold him a cold non kosher turkey sandwich instead, and lied about it, even after he questioned them several times about the sandwich’s unusual wrapping and taste. Staff members at the hotel said that the sandwich was from the kosher Noah’s Ark Restaurant, but Miller called the restaurant and found out the hotel had lied. Miller is suing for unspecified damages… but probably his $146 back, an apology, and the promise to train the hotel staff.
The NYPost, starving for news, had a front page highlighting an INTI-FOODA, a fight between a kosher and a halal food cart outside of News Corp office in Manhattan’s Midtown area. They make the story into a universal fight rather than one between two groups of vendors. One Jewish vendor accuses a couple of Halal food vendors from allowing him to set up his kosher food cart in a spot they have staked out. Cart locations is very competitive in Manhattan and fights have erupted for several decades. I am not completely familiar with the facts in this current fight, but I sense that if Mr Yisroel Mordowitz tried to locate his cart where the current kosher Moishes Falafel carts are, there would be just as large a nasty fight. I was surprised that the NY Post failed to mention the Halal carts outside of the NY Hilton which are so famous that they are mentioned in guide books and are the go to place for food at 3 A.M.
Speaking of professional staff, the Wall Street Journal reports on Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage There are problems at this beautiful museum: attendance is far below expectations and that of comparable museums; it has lost revenue for five of the past six years; and its core exhibit needs to be updated. The relatively new Chairman of the museum, Bruce Ratner, 70, who has been involved with the Museum for 19 years and used to lead BAM: Brooklyn Academy of Music has created a list of 20 initiatives for the Museum. Reading between the lines of the story, you get a sense that the CEO and paid staff of the Museum are not too keen on all of Chairman Ratner’s suggestions for improvement. Should be an interesting interaction to follow.
Speaking of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Elizabeth Kolbert writes in The New Yorker about her grandmother, Stolperstein stones, Auschwitz, 93 year olf Oskar Gröning’s trial, and Demjanjuk. It makes me want to buy a Stolperstein for my own great grandmother, and also makes your consider guilt, trials, and how far down one should prosecute.
The WSJ also profiled the roughly 1,000 Jews on the Tunisian island of Djerba According to the story and video, “Djerban Jewish leaders are concerned about assimilation, so contacts with the 150,000 Muslims on the island are limited. Clustered in the Hara Kebira, the main Jewish quarter, they speak Arabic as well as Hebrew; a few speak French. Relations between Jews and Muslims are complex—proper and respectful, though not especially close. Jewish men work alongside Arab merchants in the souk, for example, and enjoy amiable ties with Muslim customers.”
Rachel Gross writes about being Asian American and Jewish on the NPR National Public Radio blog. She begins her essay with the story that her mother (jokingly) once threatened to send her to Maury Povich and Connie Chung when she misbehaved. The celebrity couple wanted to adopt a half Jewish/half Chinese child. Gross writes and edits for Moment Magazine and dips her toe into this issue. She interviews Helen Kim and Noah Leavitt, two married sociologists at Whitman College in Washington state who study Jewish/Asian couples.
Speaking of birthright trips to Israel: Sheldon Adelson has committed more funds to the group. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the billionaire casino and bingo parlor operator has donated another $40-million to Birthright Israel, adding to the $140-million his family has already given. The latest Adelson Family Foundation gift includes a $20-million challenge grant. About 350,000 have taken a Birthright trip since its inception. I wonder if Rachel Gross or Matthew Jay Povich were among the 350,000
The Jewish Daily Forward asks whether the NYC Jewish Federation is somewhat to blame for the four (so far) scandals that have affected Jewish philanthropies in the past several months. Two of the groups used the same auditor, several groups share related directors. A problem? Or fantasy? Maybe the groups need more independence and better oversight.
Speaking of oversight, the Associated Press and other outlets are commenting on a small Israel documentary film that is on the festival circuit in the US. It was made by a haredi BT Jew and focuses on masturbation and sperm in the ultra Orthodox Jewish community. It is titled SACRED SPERM, and it is directed by Ori Gruder. The 60 minute film, made with the permission of Gruder’s rabbi and the apprehension of his wife, presents an intimate, slightly awkward, and dare I say anthropological look at the thoughts about semen and sex and the avoidance of tight arousing underwear among some haredi Jews. Gruder, 44, is the father of six. Formerly an employee of MTV Europe, he became more observant fourteen years ago. In one scene, a rabbi says that some men do not touch their penis while urinating to avoid arousal. He also documents a counseling or educational session for a soon-to-be-married young man. He is told that “all (sexual) positions are permitted, but our sages tend to say that the best way is for the husband to be on top of the wife.”
Speaking of awkward, Sarah Gray created a synopsis of Jacobin’s interview with linguist and commentator Noam Chomsky in Salon.com He says that “The world that we’re creating for our grandchildren is grim.” You mean because of global warming, species destructions, pollution, and inequality?? Yes, but also Israel. Thanks Noam.
I hear that Astoria Oregon, in the Columbia River-Pacific area, with a population of about 8,000 is getting a full time synagogue. It will be called BEIT SALMON (as in Bait your fish hook for salmon, but also BAYIT) There has not been a full time congregation in Astoria Oregon since the 1960’s, although a few dozen Jews have been meeting monthly for the past 24 years. Good luck BEIT SALMON, and I suggest a signature Chinook Cholent. This news follows the Seattle Times report on the Jews of Seattle. A recent study by the Jewish community found that the population of Seattlites that identify as Jewish has grown by 70%. The study by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle can be found HERE. The study reports that 20% attend religious services at least once a month and 33% never attend religious services, and that 34% of all households are synagogue members, 32% follow at least some rules of kashrut, and over 40% of young adults were raised in intermarried families. The key findings are that The Greater Seattle Jewish community is composed of 63,400 Jewish individuals living in 33,700 households. The population estimate consists of 49,600 Jewish adults, including 32,700 who identify as Jewish by religion and 16,900 who identify as Jewish by some means other than religion, and 13,800 Jewish children (aged 17 and under). The population is 70% larger than the 2000-2001 estimate of 37,180 Jewish people.
Finally, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that she was not entirely sober during President Obama’s State of the Union address in January. She drank a bottle of Napa’s Opus One Winery’s celebrated wine. The winery is a joint venture / collaboration between the Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild wine companies. You go, Justice Ginsburg.