New Podcast: Artistic Expression and Israel

What is the appropriate balance between presenting for an American audience, Israeli art that is critical of the society and art which celebrates it? This conversation was part of the Washington DCJCC’s Embracing Democracy series and took place on February 18, 2014.  Listen using the media player below or right-click on this link to download it.

Artistic Expression and Israel

Dror Moreh, Academy Award-nominated director of The Gatekeepers
Linda Gradstein, Middle East Bureau Chief for and former NPR Jerusalem Correspondent
Leon Wieseltier, Literary Editor of The New Republic

New Podcast: Examining the History of 1948

The creation of the State of Israel and its subsequent victory over the assembled Arab armies arrayed against it was widely regarded as a modern miracle in 1948. Coming after the trauma of the Shoah and fulfilling an ancient longing for a return to Zion made for a heroic moment in Israeli and Jewish consciousness. In the years since, different historians have helped to uncover the more complex history of the war and its aftermath, even as that history has become an object of political debate. Our panel will discusses the developments in the historical research of 1948, the uses of that history and its impact on contemporary political discussions. This event took place on January 22, 2014 at Adas Israel Congregation as a part of Embracing Democracy. Use the player below to listen to the podcast or download it by right-clicking on this link.

Panel Picture

Left to Right: Dahlia Lithwick, Shay Hazkani, Professor Donna Robinson Divine, Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer

Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Commentary, among other places.
Panelists Include:
Professor Donna Robinson Divine, Morningstar Family Foundation Professor of Government and Director of Middle East Studies at Smith College
Shay Hazkani, Visiting Scholar at Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy and Society
Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

New Podcast: Ari Shavit in-conversation with Leon Wieseltier

Leon Wieseltier and Ari ShavitAri Shavit’s newest book, The New York Times bestseller My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel is a thoughtful meditation on Israel’s history, politics and crucial national questions. Drawing on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, Shavit illuminates the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is both personal and national. Shavit is joined in conversation with Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic. This event was held on January 22 at Adas Israel Congregation as a part of the Washington DCJCC’s continuing series Embracing Democracy. You listen using the player below or download it by right-clicking on this link.

Who Gives?

Give_Button_2It’s the end of December,
the clock’s running down
and your inbox has pleas
from each non-profit in town.

“We need your donation!”
“Make your year-end gift now!”
“Our mission relies on you,
Don’t let us down!”

We aim for your wallet,
Via the head-to-heart axis,
And if that doesn’t work
Well, it helps with your taxes.

From charities and orgs
The appeals, they are legion
Theaters, schools, causes
From all over the region.

Each cause it is worthy
But the asks are so many
One might click “delete”
And give no one a penny.

But please take pause,
Before going back to your biz,
To answer the cynic,
Who’s snarking, “Who gives?”

Who gives matters more,
Than how much or how little
From the upper most classes
To those of us in the middle.

For behind all the asks,
Beyond the quotes from Hillel,
Are people and causes
Just trying to do well.

To make the world better
More beautiful, more healthy,
To make sure that 100% of us
Are spiritually wealthy.

Here’s the inevitable pitch:
(It should come as no shock)
We’re asking for money,
On the 2012 clock.

The gifts will still matter,
Made in January or June.
But we’re asking today,
So we hope you give soon.

Given to us or elsewhere
End-of-year asks are sincere
The need goes on long
After 2012 disappears.

So pardon the pile-on,
Do-gooders need cash too.
It’s part of the job
We don’t like it any more than you.

So Happy New Year.
Thanks for paying attention.
We’re lucky to do what we do,
And for the DCJCC’s mission.

(Did we mention gifts are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law?)

Playlist for Hurricane/Nor’Easter Sandy

1. Bruce Springsteen – 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

2. Randy Newman – I Think It’s Going to Rain Today

3. Scorpions – Rock You Like a Hurricane

4. Moyshe Oysher – Geshem

5. Regina Spektor – On The Radio

הכבש השישה עשר – ברקים ורעמים
6. The Sixteenth Lamb – Lightning & Thunder

7. Eurythmics – Here Comes the Rain Again

8. Gene Kelly – Singin’ in the Rain

9. Barry Manilow – I Made it Through the Rain

10. Carpenters – Rainy Days and Mondays

11. Lena Horne – Stormy Weather (h/t @theatreWashDC)

12. Lonely Island/SNL – I Wish it Would Rain

13. Barbra Streisand – Don’t Rain On My Parade (via @gloejcc)

14. Judy Garland – Come Rain or Come Shine (also via @gloejcc)

For Purim: Getting Beyond the Latke-Hamantaschen Conflict

The good folks at the Jewish Study Center had the badly misguided idea to invite me to participate in their Annual Latke-Hamantaschen Debate which took place last week. In this spirit of representing a Community Center, I presented an argument that the Jewish community can ill-afford to allow these kinds of schisms to divide us. I think I was being serious. You decide.

Happy Purim.

Seven Questions for: Silvia Sparklestein

Silvia Sparklestein comes to You Had Me at Shalom: LGBT Jewish Speed Dating this Saturday* night with GLOE, as the fabulous drag yenta emcee of the event. Not only will she be helping to make romantic connections among the daters and schmoozers, she’ll also be performing a few numbers… and making sure everyone is eating enough.

Joining us from Queens, Silvia answered our seven most important questions in the world.

1) How would you describe what you do to someone from the 19th Century?

I wear fabulous clothing. I sing and dance. And I sparkle. I’d be the perfect actor in any Shakespeare play (female roles, of course).

2) What did you want to be when you grew up?

A Jewish mother. Definitely a Jewish mother. It’s every Jewish girl from Queens’ dream! Grow up. Have lots of Jewish babies. And guilt them into calling me everyday for the rest of their busy lives as doctors, lawyers and accountants.

3) Is there a book you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve never read?

Two books. I would say the book I’m most embarrassed to have not read is Kosher by Design – Short on Time by Susie Fishbein. It’s supposed to be a fabulous Kosher cookbook with simple recipes. I love reading Kosher cookbooks to pass the time!

The other book I haven’t read is The Debutante Divorcee by Plum Sykes. After reading her book Bergdorf Blondes I truly felt like Plum connected with my inner soul the way no other writer has. (And with a first name like Plum! Oy Vey! Delicious!)

4) Woody Allen, Pro or Con?

Woody and I go way back. Although he grew up in Brooklyn, our families always used to get together for the Pesach Seder at my parent’s house in Queens. I still wonder why he doesn’t use his real family name “Konigsberg.” Well, at least I kept my family name!

5) What’s your favorite non-English word?

“Kreplach” for a number of reasons. The most obvious is, who doesn’t like kreplach?! I eat kreplach everyday for breakfast. Definitely the breakfast of champions in my humble and modest opinion. Another reason I like the word kreplach is because of the yiddishe “chhhhhh” sound at the end! I love hearing goy-toys choke as they try to say it.

6) What issue do you wish other people knew more about?

That Barbra Streisand recorded a Christmas Album in 1967. Who knew a nice yiddishe meidella from Brooklyn knew anything about The Lord’s Prayer and Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire?!

7) Historical figure, living or not, that you’d want to share a bagel with, and what kind of bagel?

Definitely Wendy Williams! She and I have a lot in common, like, our shoes size! I’m a plain Jane so I would order a plain bagel (no seeds that can get stuck in your teeth) with low-fat cream cheese schmeared on one side and low-sodium lox spread on the other, extra cream cheese and extra lox spread. Wendy would order a cinnamon raisin bagel with butter… low-fat butter.

Read all of the Seven Question interviews.


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