Shiva, The Movie


I wonder if this movie, Shiva, about a Jewish family from Morocco mourning for a family member will be released in English? I found the trailer, in Hebrew with French subtitles, on the South Jerusalem blog. I think the trailer is interesting to watch even if you don’t know the languages, but you tell me.

If the movie does come out with English translation or subtitles, it would be great for the people who read We know we get a lot of hits from people who want to know about Jewish mourning practices. An article like the ones that Lula Jones and Valerie Cooper each wrote for us about being a non-Jew at a Jewish funeral for the first time could be helpful. Still, it would be neat to have a high-drama movie like this one that coincidentally illustrates what Jews do during mourning:

A Goldmine for Geeks


Every few weeks, I get a call from a reporter, student or amateur researcher looking for statistics on intermarriage. Usually I can quickly answer the question–47% of Jews marrying between 1996-2000 married non-Jews, 28 million American are intermarried, 31% of all Jews were intermarried as of 2000–but sometimes I have to look things up. My secret weapon? The North American Jewish Data Bank.

The Data Bank is a comprehensive source for Jewish demographic information. It includes every–or nearly every–digitally available geographically focused demographic study in the North America, going back to the 1925 Jewish Communal Survey of Greater New York. Within months of any new study being published, it ends up on the Data Bank.

Continue reading

More Funky Internet Torah Study Opportunities


I love the internet. I know, I say that all the time. Look at this, It combines the trend for Torah study on the internet with the trends in Jewish creativity that I enjoy so much–Jewish music in diverse styles, like hip-hop, multi-vocality, and the use of animation. The creators of the site call it “low-commitment learning.” You can commit to it, though. It’s a podcast, so you can subscribe to it.

It’s true that this isn’t on the level of studying the portion of the week with Nechama Leibowitz, who used to ask very difficult questions. Leibowitz, one of the great Orthodox teachers of Torah, assumed that everyone, no matter what his or her education, could understand Torah in its own language and understand the major medieval commentaries. This podcast does give you access to many opinions, which is the part of Jewish study that makes it exciting.

The thing is, the first three of these seem a little simplistic to me, probably because it’s one opinion per portion, and usually Jewish commentaries include a lot of opinions per parashah. Rashi, the medieval rabbi who created the model for commentaries, gives more than one possible interpretation for practically everything. Still, this might be a good taste of Torah for a lot of web-savvy people, and I like the cartoons.

Take a look and see if this is your cup of tea. Below the cut, I’ve embedded the video for last week’s portion, Noah, Continue reading

Getting Ready for Election Night!


Vote o bothIf you are like me, you are getting ready to stay up all night tomorrow, watching the election returns. I do not remember an election in my adult life that seemed as important to the United States’ future.
As Americans debate the politics of the election, some are debating another matter. Some bloggers claimed to have uncovered evidence that Sarah Palin’s maternal grandmother was Jewish. Others assert that Palin’s maternal grandmother was not Jewish. You can read both sides of the gossip about Palin’s possible Jewish ancestry here, among other places on the web. Palin was raised Catholic and joined a Pentacostal church in adulthood. She identifies as “a Bible-believing Christian.”
One electoral race that caught my eye is Colorado’s 6th District race for the U.S House of Representatives where Hank Eng is running. He is a Chinese-American convert to Judaism. Though Eng was born in New York, he discovered Judaism when he lived in Bejing. Eng, who is married to a Jew, discusses his attraction to the Jewish idea of Tikun Olam, the obligation of repairing the world.
I would not be a good former Minnesotan if I did not mention that there are two Jews running against each other for the senate seat. Comedian Al Franken, a Democrat is running against the incumbent Republican Norm Coleman. Both candidates are in apparently happy interfaith marriages. I am pleased that no matter which way the election goes, the Frozen Chosen will be represented.