September 20, 2019


Yes, he says ‘Israelites’! (MSNBC)

A pastor who blessed Sarah Palin’s run for Alaska governor said Christians should emulate “Israelites” and run the economy.

The 2005 video of South African Pastor Thomas Muthee laying hands on Palin, the Republican vice-presidential pick, surfaced this week on the Internet.

Muthee precedes the blessing with a sermon calling for Christians to assume control in seven areas of society.

“The second area whereby God wants us, wants to penetrate in our society is in the economic area,” he said in the sermon. “The Bible says that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. It’s high time that we have top Christian businessmen, businesswomen, bankers, you know, who are men and women of integrity running the economics of our nations. That’s what we are waiting for. That’s part and parcel of transformation. If you look at the — you know — if you look at the Israelites, that’s how they work. And that’s how they are, even today.”

The pastor also calls for Christian control of schools.

“We need God taking over our education system,” he said. “Otherwise we, if we have God in our schools, we will not have kids being taught, you know, how to worship Buddha, how to worship Mohammed, we will not have in the curriculum witchcraft and sorcery.”

From the 23-year-old Brit’s YouTube page:
My name is Alistair Cohen and I am an aspiring television presenter. This video was created for showreel material and to spread some Jewish knowledge around a bit.

Please don’t hesitate to leave any feedback or comments, and if you are watching this and may know of any presenting work available, please contact me at Thanks for watching.

Here’s what Israelis4Obama say on YouTube:
We are Israelis and Israeli-Americans who believe Barack Obama will be good for America and good for Israel. In such dramatic times a leader who is able to employ intelligent diplomacy hand in hand with a strong defense is crucial to our future. We urge the Jewish community to hear our voices. Thank you.


Watch the Torah Slam in this video from our friends at the

Jerusalem Online spoke with director Elan Frank about his documentary footage of Gov. Sarah Palin that Frank sold to Fox

David Suissa’s column about Frank has the back story.

Joelna Marcus tells JTA she was the target of a push poll because she is Jewish. A caller, pretending to be a pollster, tried to insinuate Barack Obama is pro-Palestinian.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has admitted it sponsored a negative poll about Barack Obama. reported Tuesday evening that the RJC took responsibility for the phone poll in swing states, which asked voters their response to negative statements about Obama. Those statements included reported praise for him from a leader of the Palestinian terror group Hamas and a friendship early in his career with a pro-Palestinian university professor.

RJC executive director Matt Brooks told the publication that his organization conducted the poll to “understand why Barack Obama continues to have a problem among Jewish voters.”

Brooks denied that the poll was a “push poll” meant to influence Jewish voters, and said it was a traditional survey meant to gauge the opinions of Jewish voters.

A top Jewish Obama supporter slammed the RJC. “Peddling lies and hateful distortions to scare Jewish voters is reprehensible and deeply disrespectful to Jewish Americans,” said Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.).


What can the most successful doll on the planet show us about being Jewish today? Narrated by Peter Coyote, the film mixes old school narration with a new school visual style. The Tribe weaves together archival footage, graphics, animation, Barbie dioramas, and slam poetry to take audiences on an electric ride through the complex history of both the Barbie doll and the Jewish people- from Biblical times to present day. By tracing Barbie’s history, the film sheds light on the questions: What does it mean to be an American Jew today? What does it mean to be a member of any tribe in the 21st Century?

RNC attendee (and a member ofMcCain’s national Jewish Advisory Coalition and the RJC Leadership) talks about McCain, old ladies with funny hats, the John McCain blue velvet McCippah, John Voight, Al Sharpton and more.

A 2,100-year-old section of the wall surrounding Jerusalem, dating from Hasmonean times, has been unearthed on Mount Zion, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday. The excavations have revealed part of the expanded southern city wall, from the Second Temple period, when ancient Jerusalem was at its largest.


Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn)  on his hopes and dreams for Barack Obama, March 2006:

“As far as I’m concerned [Barack Obama] is a ‘Baruch,’ which means a blessing. He is a blessing to the United States Senate, to America, and to our shared hopes for better, safer tomorrows for all our families. The gifts that God has given to Barack Obama are as enormous as his future is unlimited. As his mentor, as his colleague, as his friend, I look forward to helping him reach to the stars and realize not just the dreams he has for himself, but the dreams we all have for him and our blessed country.”

JTA’s Eric Fingerhut and Ron Kampeas on Thursday’s events at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.  With a focus on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, they explore a new emphasis on rebuilding the Civil Rights-era alliance of Jews and Blacks.  Included—Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. John Lewis.

Eric Fingerhut and Ron Kampeas summarize the jewish events of the day at the election, while attending a jstreet function in downtown Denver.


PETA anti-kapporot video

NEW YORK (JTA) — For the second year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has complained about the High Holy Days ritual of swinging a chicken over one’s head, a sin-transference ceremony.

In a letter sent Monday to the New York agriculture department’s Kosher Law Enforcement division, PETA alleges that thousands of dead chickens were thrown away after the ritual last year in one Brooklyn center. The letter singles out the kapparot center run in Crown Heights by Rabbi Shea Hecht and asks the state to investigate whether consumer fraud occurred. Jews who bought chickens for the ritual expected the birds “to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, the letter states.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty. It spurred a meeting of more than a dozen rabbis in Brooklyn, and they sent out directives to kapparot centers saying they needed full-time rabbinic supervision.

A related letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn. Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the Kashrus center’s rabbinic administrator, said that Hecht’s site and others operated by communal organizations are well run. While there have been problems in the past from “fly-by-night” kapparot centers, Weiner said proactive steps taken by rabbis last year significantly cut down on such problems.

Ron Kampeas and Eric Fingerhut file their first video report from Denver, after attending a panel discussion Monday on the Jewish vote sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council

Jewish Democratic event at Zaydees in downtown Denver.

From JTA’s Election Blog:

By Eric Fingerhut on Aug 24, 2008

They didn’t get a chance to sample the corned beef sandwiches, but more than a couple hundred people, Jews and non-Jews, came out to Zaidy’s Deli in Denver Sunday afternoon for a “Nosh and Shmooze.” That was what Democratic National Committee vice chair Susan Turnbull called the welcome party she hosted for her friends from her home state of Maryland and from around the country. Among those noshing on cheese, crackers, brownies, lemon bars and other desserts were Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), American Jewish Congress president Richard Gordon and American Israel Public Affairs Committee chairman of the board Howard Friedman.

Turnbull noted that when she first talking about hosting the event last winter, some of her colleagues didn’t know what a “nosh” was. So her invitations to the event provided definitions for both “nosh” (to snack) and “shmooze” (to stand around and talk). And Turnbull pointed out that’s what everyone did.


Virtual Rabbi (and Olympics fan) David Paskin presents a Shabbat message based on the determination and dedication of Olympic athletes.

David Paskin, or Rabbi David as he is known by his congregants, is an accomplished spiritual leader, singer/songwriter, entertainer and award-winning Jewish educator. For more than a decade, David has served as full-time Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Abraham in Canton, Massachusetts


In an April 2007 interview, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) declares “I am a Zionist’ and discusses his support for Israel.

Four modern-day gladiators do battle for the gold (a lifetime supply of Gold’s mustard) in the Heeb Olympics. For more information, check out

Dr. David B. Goldstein from Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy talks about tracking the genetic history of the ancient Jewish priesthood (kohanim) and the Lost Tribe of Israel, the focus of his new book, “Jacob’s Legacy”.

For many people, genetics research conjures up frightening notions of racial or religious superiority — or the possibility of genetic discrimination. David B. Goldstein isn’t worried about either of these things.

“I take the view that there isn’t anything to be afraid of in our genetic makeups. So I really think that it’s interesting, fascinating even, sometimes important, but there isn’t anything scary lurking there,” said Goldstein, a professor of molecular genetics and the director of Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy’s Center for Population Genomics &Pharmacogenetics.

Goldstein, 44, even applies his open-research policy to a scientific study a few years ago that linked genetic diseases to intelligence among Ashkenazi Jews. He calls that work “speculative,” but he doesn’t rule out research into the issue.

“That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be really careful in how you present what’s been done,” he said. “I think you do, and I think we’ve seen mistakes in how work is presented. I think it’s really reckless to overstate results. But I don’t think there are any areas that are unwise to investigate, because I’m just not afraid of what we’re going to find.”

In “Jacob’s Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish History,” recently published by Yale University Press, Goldstein uses the latest genetic methods — including genetic mapping and advanced DNA testing — to illuminate compelling issues in Jewish history like the biblical priesthood, the Lost Tribes, Jewish migration, and Jewish genetic diseases.

Goldstein’s most startling finding: There are enough Y chromosome similarities among many who call themselves descendants of the Cohanim, the biblical priestly caste, to argue for genetic Cohen continuity.

He and his colleagues tested these similarities by comparing the Y chromosomes of Cohanim with the chromosomes of other Jews. Sure enough, the majority of the self-identified Cohanim, whether Ashkenazi or Sephardi Jews, had the same type of Y chromosome. Further testing by Goldstein and friends leads him to estimate that the Cohanim were founded before the Roman era — and perhaps before the Babylonian conquest in the sixth century B.C.E.

Even Goldstein was blown away.

“The apparent continuity of the Cohen Y chromosome was an out-and-out stunner; I would have never predicted that to be the case,” he said.

He also finds genetic evidence for the idea that the Lemba tribe in Africa might have some Jewish origins, a finding that the media simplified by saying he had shown the Lemba are one of Judaism’s 10 Lost Tribes.

In the section on the Lemba, and indeed throughout the book, Goldstein is careful about his conclusions. For him, the research is more about shedding light on themes of Jewish history, such as exile and Diaspora. As he puts it in the book, “What makes a people a people? What binds them together through time? What alienates them from some and aligns them to others?”

As admirable as the book’s scholarship is its readability. Goldstein’s jargon-free writing and sense of humor courts readers who are not hard-core scientists. At different points in the book, he calls himself a “lousy mathematician” and as “having a bit of the gambler in my genes,” and, in the section about the alleged link between genetic diseases and intelligence, he writes, “Now we geneticists have a genuine kerfuffle on our hands.”

Don’t be misled — Goldstein’s book isn’t “Jewish Genetics for Dummies.” But he has taken cutting-edge science and made it accessible to the general reader willing to make an effort.

It wasn’t easy, admitted Goldstein, whose academic work focuses on medical genetics — specifically, why some people control HIV better than other people and why some people respond better to some medicines than other people.

“I started writing this just about 10 years ago. The discussions of the science were dreadful, incomprehensible. And so I just tried it again and again until I found ways that worked and that people didn’t complain about when I showed it to them.”

Part of the motivation for the book, Goldstein says, stems from guilt he feels because he remained in graduate school at Stanford and didn’t go to Israel when the 1991 Gulf War broke out.

“I did feel like I should do something. And I think doing some work eventually at least gave me some kind of connection to read about Jewish history as part of my job, and that definitely made me feel better. I guess I finally got over it and started going to Israel regularly, which I still do.”

He’s frank about the limitations of genetic history. “[G]enetics can never, however, replace, or even compete with, the painstaking work of archaeology, philology, linguistics, paleobotany and the many other disciplines that have helped resurrect some of the lost stories of human history,” Goldstein writes.

Understandably, though, he’s proud that his research has yielded some insight into some vexing issues, and shares the notion that what he is doing on some issues — say, the Cohanim — borders on the fantastic.

“The continuity of the Cohen paternal line is an astounding thing,” he said. “And it’s a little tiny bit of history that genetics tells you about.”

Peter Ephross’ articles and reviews have appeared in the Village Voice, the Forward and Publishers Weekly, among other publications.

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Living your childhood dreams

“Brick walls are there for a reason,” wrote the late Dr. Randy Pausch, author of the best-selling book, “The Last Lecture.” A computer scientist and former professor at theUniversity of Virginia and Carnegie Mellon, Pausch argued that brick walls are not there to keep us out. If anything, “brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”

On July 25, Pausch died of pancreatic cancer, having left this world much too early and leaving behind a wife and three young children. He was 47.

Having just finished his book, what struck me about him was not so much his tragic, premature death, but rather his vitality and his sense of perspective. Published before his death, his best-selling book is sweeping the nation, largely because it is an affirmation of life an affirmation of the here and now. It has become a popular literary wake-up call.

Titled, “The Last Lecture,” Pausch shares a number of personal anecdotes and insights throughout his 206-page book. The work is an outgrowth of a public lecture given by select faculty at Carnegie Mellon. The format of the talk invites a teacher each year to share his or her reflections on life with colleagues and students in an open forum. Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” was particularly poignant, given his terminal medical condition.

Apropos to our community’s upcoming celebration of the Days of Awe and, in particular, Yom Kippur, Pausch designates a chapter heading in his book: “A Bad Apology Is Worse Than No Apology.” In his words, “Apologies are not pass/fail.” Or, as he writes: “Any performance lower than an A really doesn’t cut it.”

I’m not in full agreement with him on this rarely are things all or nothing in life but that not withstanding, he does list three things, to which I agree, that must be included by the person who wronged the other for it to be an appropriate apology:

  1. What I did was wrong.
  2. I feel badly that I hurt you.
  3. How do I make this better?

Eight-hundred years earlier, Moses Maimonides offered the following insight into what constitutes a true repentant. In his legal work, Mishneh Torah (Hilchei Teshuvah 2:1), Maimonides suggests a good indicator of a truly apologetic person is one, who when faced with a similar situation, does not behave in the same manner. The feelings might still be there, but the behavior is different, improved, virtuous.

Like the Days of Awe that will soon be upon us, Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” reminds us all of life’s brevity. Like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Pausch’s book asks us to ask ourselves: What matters most in life? How can I live a more purpose-filled existence? How can I fortify my faith without becoming excessive? How can I live more in the moment, appreciating all that I have?

In that way, Pausch was a teacher’s teacher. Through his book and recorded lecture, he continues to teach all of us to pause and look within.

But as inspiring as his book is and as vital as his life was, we Jews need look no further than our religious tradition when fashioning our own “Last Lecture.” Though our tradition may not be a best seller, throughout time, it remains forever ageless, undiminished by popular trends, God-filled and when taken seriously, life-transforming.

large hadron collider

The Large Hadron Collider. Image courtesy ” target=”_blank”>blog every day. He can be reached at

From JTC’s YouTube site:
Get the inside scoop on The Jewish Channel’s award-winning features and documentaries. The Forward newspaper’s Arts and Culture Editor Alana Newhouse is your guide, offering incisive interviews with writers, directors and cultural critics.Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Abigail Pogrebin, author of “Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish.” Newhouse and Pogrebin discuss the legacy of MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, the subject of Louis B. Mayer: King of Hollywood, on contemporary Hollywood’s Jewish celebrities — like Natalie Portman and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Bandwidth in Los Angeles recently took an upward leap of faith.

In addition to the usual news, drama and sports, viewers of cable’s Verizon FiOS TV (Fiber-Optic Television) can now also watch a panel of rabbis discussing Barack Obama’s minister, hear actor Alec Baldwin rave about New York delis or listen to a converted Orthodox comedian rant about his three ritual circumcisions.

It’s all on The Jewish Channel (TJC), an ambitious enterprise that, depending on who’s talking, is either the new Jewish HBO or the latest tawdry entry in a long series of failed attempts to create one. At the very least, the new channel’s arrival in this media-savvy town has heated up a simmering debate over whether true national Jewish television is possible and, if so, whose is most likely to succeed.

“There have easily been 25 or 30 significant efforts that have failed in the last 20 years and all for the same reason,” said Jay Sanderson, CEO of the Sherman Oaks-based Jewish Television Network, which, though still producing content for PBS, long ago abandoned cable television in favor of Web TV.

“The problem,” Sanderson said, “is that none of them have made money.”

Professional media critics tend to agree.

“Any niche-oriented station divided by religion, gender, age range, etc., is starting from a place where it’s limiting its potential audience,” said Brian Lowry, a media columnist and chief TV critic for Variety Magazine. “The issue is capacity; cable operators don’t generally want to give up space to a channel unless they think it will make money.”

While inexpensive programming in any niche is potentially viable, Lowry said, “I don’t see a huge demand for it. The Jewish audience falls into the same category as any other; a portion will reach out for ethnic-based programs, but the lion’s share will watch what everybody else is watching. It comes down to how narrowly you can keep slicing up that pie and still be economically viable.”

Steven Weiss, an executive and spokesman for TJC, is hoping that his slice of the pie will be large. Launched on the East Coast last year with private funding from venture capitalists, the station a video-on-demand compendium of Jewish movies, commentary and public affairs programming billing itself as “America’s first national Jewish cable network” now boasts about 20,000 viewers. Though it’s still too early to tell, Weiss hastened to add, how many of them live in Los Angeles.

His secret, he said, is quality programming provided by a staff of seasoned industry executives with backgrounds at major cable networks and media companies, including Showtime, The Food Network, Rainbow and Time Warner.

“We’re getting an overwhelming response from people who really appreciate that they can connect with their culture and community from the comfort of their living rooms,” he said.

Weiss believes it’s the rising phenomenon of behind-closed-doors Judaism that will allow the station to succeed.

“We’re in an era where there are many people looking for Jewish experiences but not willing to do it in a confined Jewish space,” he said. “It’s a cultural shift; people increasingly want a Jewish identity that’s in flow with everything else in their lives rather than in marked contrast. The idea that you can actually bring it into your living room is a very attractive proposition for a great many unaffiliated Jews.”

Others who would appear to have less impressive television credentials than TJC’s producers have similar ideas. Among them is Phil Blazer, the Encino-based publisher of a newspaper that is distributed irregularly called The National Jewish News, president of a company called Blazer Communications and producer of a half-hour Sunday morning program that airs on the small cable station KSCI-TV, Channel 18. Now he said he plans to go national with what he calls Jewish Life TV, set to debut in Los Angeles this fall. The debut has been promised for a long period of time but has not yet produced results.

“L.A. will have its own full-time channel,” Blazer promises of the programming he said can already be seen by basic cable subscribers in a smattering of U.S. cities nationwide, including Burlington, Vt., and San Antonio, Texas. “We are a regular full-time network, not just video-on-demand.”

Blazer said that one of his goals with the new channel is “to go to small communities, like Bakersfield, where there isn’t much Jewish life.”

It’s an ambition shared by Rabbi Mark S. Golub, president of Fort Lee, N.J.-based Shalom TV, a nonprofit video-on-demand network that tested the waters for 18 months before going national earlier this year.

“What we’re doing,” Golub said of the network, available to Time Warner subscribers in Los Angeles, “is providing Jews outside the major urban centers with a greater sense of Jewish identity and Jewish security. Jewish is in the air in New York and, in some ways, in Los Angeles. But you go out of the major urban areas of this country and Jews are starving for Jewish content.”

Golub also serves as the spiritual leader of congregation Chavurat Aytz Chayim in Stamford, Conn., president of the Russian Television Network of America and producer of a weekly cable television show called, L’Chayim,

Some potential viewers in Los Angeles are already signaling whose station they prefer even while the jury’s still out. Shelley Salamensky, a professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and TV who also teaches at the university’s Center for Jewish Studies, hasn’t yet seen TJC but she’s heard all about it.

“I think it will enrich the lives of those who are connected to the Jewish community,” she said. “It will enrich the lives of those who are Jewish but unaffiliated, and for non-Jewish viewers it should also be fascinating.”

Salamensky sees the emergence of Jewish television, in general, as part of a larger trend.

“Los Angeles is a city in which many different cultures have had a presence on TV for years,” she said, “but I think this is quite new for Jews. There is evidence of renewed Jewish life in the 21st century; a strong movement of people who have been disenfranchised returning to their roots.”

The professor attributes the phenomenon, in part, to the “feeling of spiritual emptiness and disconnection” engendered by the post-modern world.

“My grandparents’ generation from Eastern Europe is passing away,” she said, “and we’re feeling the loss.”

The view from the bottom line, however, is that such sentiment may engender more desire than actual accomplishment. The reality, Variety media critic Lowry said, “is that most people, when they sit down to watch TV, don’t run through a litany of their personal attributes before choosing what to watch. They’re going to turn on ‘Desperate Housewives’ or ‘Lost’ or a movie or whatever.”

In fact, he concludes, the whisperings of personal religion and ethnicity “is just not something most people go through before deciding what to view.”

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. ...
  11. 15