Moment Magazine Introduces "Talk of the Table"

I can think of at least one of this blog’s regular readers who will be very happy to hear this news from Moment Magazine: “Moment Magazine introduces Talk of the Table, a lively and intelligent look at Jewish food. In our inaugural section, we explore why charoset—the traditional blend of fruits, nuts and spices—landed on the Seder plate and how coffee giant Maxwell House got into the Haggadah business.” Intrigued? Click here to read more.

Source of Comfort: Avinu Malkeinu

Lately, I’ve been seeking comfort by finding and listening to Hebrew prayers/music on the Internet. From time to time, I’ll share some of my discoveries here. Today’s offering: Barbra Streisand’s rendition of the Avinu Malkeinu (“Our Father, Our King”), which is chanted during our High Holy Days. And for an alternate melody, but one that’s equally familiar to me, listen to this clip from a cantorial concert.

You’ll hear all Hebrew; I am looking for a complete translation online (something resembling what I’m used to seeing in the Gates of Repentance) prayerbook, but have not yet found one. Meantime, here’s the best I can do.


It’s been a rough couple of days, for reasons I may explain another time, but I was cheered enormously this morning by a report from my sister about her daughter (my five-year-old niece), who is clearly receiving an excellent religious upbringing.

Unlike her younger brother (not to mention her Aunt Erika!), little R doesn’t fall asleep very easily, and often chats with her various stuffed animals before drifting off. Last night, as my sister paused outside my niece’s bedroom door, she heard R holding the following discussion with “Bunny” and peers:

“So when there are 3 stars in the sky on Saturday night, then Shabbat is over. But what, do you ask, happens when you can’t see any stars at all? Then Shabbat would last forever….Hmmm. That really makes no sense.”

I think we have a Talmudist on our hands.

The New York Times and Another N-word

Last Sunday the New York Times provided a package of four articles on Israel, ostensibly to mark the country’s 60th birthday. I didn’t blog about the articles then, and maybe I should have.

But on the other hand, in this week’s Jewish Week Jonathan Mark has done such an impressive job tying all four pieces together–with some other commentary on how Israel is portrayed in the international press–that you’re probably better off reading his views than mine.

It’s not that I agree completely with Mark–I wouldn’t come down quite so hard on Jeffrey Goldberg, for instance, but then Goldberg has probably earned my eternal approval with his book, Prisoners. But Mark sure points out a lot of things worth noting. For instance, on the matter of Elias Khoury’s piece on Israel as “nakba”:

Sophisticated readers of the Times are by now so familiar with the idea that Israel’s birth is someone else’s “catastrophe” (nakba in Arabic) that nakba needn’t be translated anymore when it appears in a headline.

The Times considers the use of [Barack] Obama’s middle name, or the mention of his father’s religion, to be an unacceptable “smear,” but somehow it is not toxic or an unacceptable smear to allow nakba, with all its implications, to be used in a headline about the Jewish state. Racism is as real as Khoury’s anti-Zionism but on Martin Luther King day the Times wouldn’t give a segregationist a column to explain why civil rights was a “catastrophe,” with that other n-word in the headline.

Of course, nakba is used casually in the Arab world an in academic, just as that other n-word was once used casually in Alabama, and now nakba is normalized; Israel can reasonably be seen as catastrophic. If you’re charting Israel’s delegitiization, chart this: The Times, from 1948-1970, never used nakba once; it’s been used 40 times since 1998.

To read Mark’s full text, click here.