Sunday, May 22, 2005

Two Jewish movies without a single Jew in them

"Whale Rider"

A film about the struggle between the "Orthodox" and "Reform" movement in Maori culture, personified in the struggle between the patriarch, his son, and granddaughter. The grandfather caught exactly the flavor of my own old-country grandfather railing against all of the American "innovations." Except that different issues were involved, and the Maori granfather spoke with a perfect New Zealand accent, which sounds inditinguishable from an Australian accent to my untutored ears. (Taking cover in anticipation of all by Australian and New Zealander readers slinging barbs at my ignorance.)

"Hotel Rwanda"

A Holocaust movie with not a single Jewish character (not even any of the whites or UN personnel were identified as being Jewish.) The movie, aside from showing some incredible acts of herosim by Paul Rusesabagina, the "African Schindler" who saved 1,200 Tutsis from being killed by their Hutu enemies. The best line in the movie, however, was by Colonel Oliver the Candian head of the ineffective UN Peacekeepers, who explained why the western Powers weren't going to be sending in troops to stop the genocide:

"You're not even niggers, you're African blacks."

Kind of makes you understand what happened in Europe from 1933-1945. Except that in Europe, at least the western powers did end up crushing the Nazis, whereas in Rwandi, the Tutsis more or less had to save their own asses.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Baruch Dayan Emet

I have the sad duty to report on a death in the immediate "Conservative Apikoris" family. Under the circumstances, that means that I will be going on a short hiatus while I deal with my grief, and while I have many serious thoughts and observations about the process, "funeral blogging," and "shiva blogging" are perhaps a bit beyond the bounds of good taste.

I thank all of my friends and relatives and members of my congregation who have so generously helped us during this sad time. I look forward to blogging at some time soon in the future.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Orthodox West Bank settlers believe terrorists go to heaven

Recently, when researching for some information on the idea that Islamic terrorists could be deterred by burying them in pigskin, I came across this amazing article for a (more or less) reputable journalistic source, the Daily Telegraph. (I say, "more or less," becuase I was once warned by a nice lady on a train in England that the paper's proper name is really the "Tory-graph," and you should interpret their reporting accordingly.)

The concept I'm about to mock was developed because Muslims don't eat pork, and because there's supposedly a belief among Islamic suicide terrorists that they will be whisked to heaven (and 72 virgins for their enjoyment) immediately after their death in a terrorist action. However, if their bodies are contaminated by being buried in a pigskin bag or perhaps being annoited with lard, they will go somewhere else. (Where? To a right-wing ultra-Orthodox Hereidi Jewish yeshiva? Oh, yes. Jews don't like pigs, either. Maybe they'll have to spend eternity with the right-wing fundamentalist Christian Bible-Thumpers.)

Of course, this whole business is silly. I don't think suicide bombers are motivated by the promise of 72 virgins in the afterlife. But, if you believe the reportage of Mr. Alan Philips of the Telegraph, [registration required] back in 2002 the Orthodox Jewish settlers in the West Bank seemed to believe so:
The settlers believe that contact with a pig, an unclean animal for Muslims and Jews, will rob the bomber of the reward of martyrdom, traditionally said to be 72 virgins.

Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat, defended the practice: "If burial in pigskin will deter suicide bombers, then it is incumbent on us to do this. We should do anything
to save life."

So we have the spectacle of Orthodox Jews who believe in Muslim eschatology, and they are backed up by their rabbi!

Alas, this holy work has been in vain, and the settlers should have known it had they been paying attention in Friday school:

Palestinian Muslims reacted with scorn to the idea, saying the soul went to paradise and was unaffected by any taint to the body.

"The keys to heaven are not in the hands of settlers," said Sheikh Hassan Youssef, for Hamas, whose military wing has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel.

Islamic reference books say the body of a martyr who dies for the faith is so pure that it does not need to be washed before burial, in contrast to the usual Muslim practice.

Too bad, these Orthodox settlers will need to find another excuse to explain why they were seen shopping at the local Tiv Ta'am Store.

Ortho-skeptics, more common that realized?

An interesting review in this week's Ha'aretz of a book written by a Jewish columnist at the Guardian newspaper in Britain. While the basic subject revolve around the fact that, apparently British Jews seem to have more problems integrating their British and Jewish selves, this little quote may be of more interest to us observant apikorsim:

The dimension that Sara adds to Freedland's probe into the diverse aspects of his Jewish identity is that she has retained her adherence to Orthodox practice, yet has apparently abandoned her belief in God. Her son concludes that this agnostic Orthodoxy - undoubtedly widespread among modern educated practicing Jews - reflects his own position on religion.

Good Shabbos, Rabbi

Or, in this case I suppose it should be "Shabbat Shalom," becuase the people involved are Sefaradi:

A very wierd story hits the headlines in the Holy land:

Son of chief rabbi arrested over suspected kidnapping, abuse

"Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Friday morning extended the remand of the son of Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar and released to house arrest the rabbi's wife and daughter in connection with the suspected kidnapping of an ultra-Orthodox youth. "

The Amar family did not approve of the relationship between the 18-year-old daughter Ayala Amar and the 17-year-old Bnei Brak youth, and thus decided to harm him, police suspect. Police believe that ten days ago the three family members, likely in cooperation with Palestinians from the territories, kidnapped and imprisoned the youth for two days."

The son who was charged had been livinh a secular life for the past 20 years.

What makes the story really wierd was that apparently Ayala was involved in the assault.

A very good reason to leave the frum chicks alone, I should say.