I come from a very Jewish family. My great-grandparents were involved in the foundation of the Zionist movement, and my mother is Jewish clergy. Hebrew was apparently my first language when I began talking at 2 years old during the time we lived in Jerusalem (unfortunately, I can’t really speak it anymore), and my pre-teen years were encapsulated by Bat Mitzvah tutoring. The thing is, I’ve never really felt Jewish, at least not in the religious sense. As I grew into a cynical teenager, my beliefs about God went out the window, and I felt disconnected and bored by most facets of Judaism.
Culturally, however, it’s a different story … Keep reading »
Leonardo DiCaprio and his gorgeous Israeli supermodel girlfriend Bar Refaeli have apparently gotten too close for an Israeli organization called Lehava. In Hebrew Lehava means “flame” and is the Hebrew acronym for “Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land.” Basically, it “assists” Jewish girls to get out of relationships with non-Jews. The organization wrote Refaeli a letter and sent it to her mother. It said, “It is not by chance that you were born Jewish. Your grandmother and her grandmother did not dream that one of their descendants would one day remove the family’s future generations from the Jewish people. Assimilation has forever been one of the enemies of the Jewish people.” Oy gevalt. They also added a “no offense” to Leo clause, as this “has nothing against Mr. DiCaprio, who I have no doubt is a talented actor.” I guess you can’t blame them for trying, but you can’t stop love, especially when it’s for Leo DiCaprio. Why don’t they tell her to convert the guy and start an ultra race of sexy Israeli ex-pats? And haven’t we seen what happens when people try to keep their race “pure”? Nothing good, that’s what. [L.A. Times] Keep reading »
First, she was a singer. Then an actress. Then a mama. Then a crazy-biceped kook. Now Madonna is adding another title to her resume: journalist. She has written an article for the largest Israeli daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, about how her religious awakening made her realize that there was more to life than being a material girl. You better break out that old Bat Mitzvah tape, because the newspaper has translated the piece, called “How My Life Changed,” into Hebrew. Although Madonna isn’t Jewish or Israeli, the singer has studied Kabbalah—an ancient sect of Jewish mysticism—for 14 years. The article, which runs tomorrow, will recount how her studies have shaped her life. Madonna last visited Israel in 2004 and she will be returning to the holy land again in September for two dates on her Sticky & Sweet tour. L’chaim to her on her new career. [Yahoo News] Keep reading »
The title is actually not the beginning of a joke. As unlikely as it may sound, this was gist of my most of my weekend. A little bit of background is necessary. Three years ago an Israeli is sitting in his room in Jerusalem getting ready to attend college in the US. He receives an email notifying him of the name and address of his freshman year roommate. To his surprise, the name and address are Iranian. What does he do: nothing. Despite the tensions in the region and possible conflicts, he decides not to complain to the college (whether this was out of cultural curiosity, tolerance, or extreme laziness remains a mystery). Simultaneously in another part of the world an Iranian receives his notification and pretty quickly surmises that his roommate is a Jew from Israel. He also decides to do nothing. Whether the college intentionally put two students from opposing countries together to foster international relations or some admissions director thought it would be a grand joke also remains a mystery. More likely than not it was just a screw up as both students later received an email inquiring as to their level of “comfortableness.” Both were comfortable and were now roommates. The unlikely combination of an Israeli and Iranian choosing to live together became more unlikely when the Iranian started dating a Palestinian. The unlikely group became an inseparable one. Keep reading »
Reader Rachel snapped this cute stencil in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Have you seen graffiti that’s kind of sweet (even if it is against the law)? Send your pic to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep reading »
Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi just tied the knot last weekend officially making gay marriage trendhunter worthy. But according to Professor John Boswell, the former chairman of the history department at Yale University, gay marriage is an old-fashioned institution getting a new page in the history books. The Ivy League teacher has done extensive research on homosexuality throughout the ages and discovered that early Christians, including the Pope, were so cool with same-sex committed relationships, they even adorned their churches with frescoes of sweet man love. A painting found at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mt. Sinai, Israel, depicts two early Christian Saints, St. Sergius and St. Bacchus, getting married back in the 4th Century, with Jesus as the best man. Accounts of their sainthood, up through the 10th Century New Testament, openly united and acknowledged them as “lovers.” But they’re just the tip of the gay Christian iceberg! Keep reading »
Passover is a spring time Jewish holiday that commemorates when my people sprung from slavery in Egypt by not allowing us to eat leavened bread products. In addition to being deprived of everything from delicious bagels to even the sprinkles on ice cream, devout tribe members have not been allowed to take Viagra since its introduction in 1998, on account of the little blue pill’s gelatin casing isn’t Kosher. Now, building pyramids sounds hard, but eight days without sex sounds really unfair! However, after a decade in the desert, there’s finally hope women will be screaming “Oh God!” through the holiday. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Israel is switching its gelatin-encasing recipe to keep the men Kosher for Passover. So while you’re not able to eat bread that rises, you will still able to get a rise out of your mensch. [BBC] Keep reading »