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    ModernTribe: Best of the Web Wednesday

    Woman Arrested For Wearing Tallit At Western Wall (Haaretz)

    Table Talk For A Jewish Thanksgiving (JTA)

    Michal's Tefillin Sets Up Foundation To Enable Gifted Jewish Women (Michal's Tefillin)

    Images of Jews In American Theater (MyJewishLearning)

    Jew Rock Stars Can!!Can, FrumSatire, Matthue Roth and More (HeebnVegan)

    JDub Records Looking For New Director of Marketing (JDub Records)

    ModernTribe: PunkTorah Friday!

    Hey, this is Patrick. In addition to working with ModernTribe.com and singing in the Jewish punk rock band Can!!Can, I do PunkTorah, a website and activism project I founded last April. PunkTorah strives to provide meaningful Jewish spiritual connections to progressive people. The project includes weekly videos, outreach events, public speaking and blogging on several Jewish websites.

    ModernTribe is a great supporter of PunkTorah (you can buy PunkTorah shirts on the website) and is letting PunkTorah take over the blog every Friday. Each week I'm looking forward to sharing with you the best of PunkTorah. For more PunkTorah visit PunkTorah.com. Shabbat Shalom and have a wonderful weekend!

    Here is a short video about PunkTorah:

    Parshat Bereishit (Shot Inside My Kitchen):

    Sukkot Party Home Movie:

    The Chosen One is Tali: Luke Says Jewish Girl Is More To Love

    Fox TV's reality dating show More To Love get's real about much more than body size.

    More To Love's teaser opening shows tiny girls in bikinis with the captions: "The average girl on reality TV is a size 2. The average American woman is a size 14." More To Love's format is simply The Bachelor Plus Size: a total ripoff, and yes, it's cheesy. But, like most reality dating shows, it fed my need for vicarious romance. At first, I was fascinated by the marked difference between these larger women and the usual skinny-biotch personalities; these women were self-deprecating instead of self-aggrandizing, weepy instead of hostile. But as the season went on and Luke started falling for Tali, the Israeli, I totally fell for the inter-religious dating storyline.

    I wouldn't call myself a The Bachelor completest, but I have watched my share. I never, not once, heard daters speak about religion. My husband and I wondered about how this extremely important subject seemed to never come up. We figured these discussions end up on the cutting room floor -- perhaps too controversial for prime time. Then, suddenly, More To Love, this second-rate-reality -dating-ripoff show, starts discussing Tali and Luke's "different backgrounds." "Uh, yah!," I exclaimed to my husband, "'different backgrounds', 'different cultures'... can't they just come out and say, 'she's Jewish?'"

    Well... to my surprise and joy, that's exactly what they did! Tonight, on prime time TV, America got to watch the typical realities of a Jewish person getting serious with a non-Jew. Although my philosophical and religious beliefs are different than Tali's (and my husband's different from Luke's), my anxieties and experiences with meeting my husband's non-Jewish family were very similar.

    Reality One: The "Do You Think They Are Going To Like Me?" Discussion. All couples have this discussion but the Jewish person has the additional worry of, "will they not like me because I'm Jewish?" Tali softballs the issue by asking, "How do I need to prepare to meet your dad?" Luke doesn't catch her drift so Tali gets more direct with, "Do you think your dad is going to ask me questions about being from a different religion?" He assures her he will but says, "I don't think it would cause him not to like you." (He doesn't know his dad so well.)

    Reality Two: Worrying About How The Truth Will Come Out. "Jewish" isn't usually obvious. Jewish is something that has to be revealed -- somehow -- and in some way, hopefully before a blunt refusal to swallow the wafer. Tali has it easy because she is from Israel, so immediately upon revealing that fact most people will assume she is Jewish. (For me it was months if not years, before some of my non-Jewish family and I discussed my Jewishness.) Luke's dad frames his question (Are you a Jew?) like this, "As far as being Israeli, how do you feel about Christianity?"

    Reality Three: The Family Blessing In Jesus' Name. Have all inter-dating/intermarrieds experienced this? I suspect yes. It is the family blessing which starts with holding hands, bowing heads, and the silverback male of the family saying a few words of gratitude for food and family. Most of it is wonderful and good and not too different from a brucha. However, instead of thanking G-d, the Jewish person is preoccupied asking Him a favor, "oh please, G-d, let him thank you and leave the other guy out of it." Tali grins and bears it well.

    Reality Four: The Relative Who Really Gets It. Our non-Jewish significant other loves us, wants to know us, and deeply respects our Jewishness or we wouldn't be in this relationship, right? So where does that openness, respect, and curiosity come from? There is usually at least one if not several non-Jewish family members who are open, respectful, curious, if not pleased with our Jewishness. (I am blessed to have many members of my family-in-law who fit this description.) Tali found this person to be Luke's mom who immediately sensed the connection between Tali and Luke regardless of the religious differences.

    I'm sure there are more "realities" of getting serious with a non-Jew. Readers, please share your experiences. For now, I'll sign-off with a hardy thank you (not in Jesus' name) to Fox TV producers for showing these realities!

    Stewart V. Cramer: The Rundown

    Have you been hearing the buzz about the battle between these two big personalities?

    Both these men are Jewish and the LA Jewish Journal, quite Jewishly, gives us a meta-take on this conflict which is worth considering and discussing:

    "Last night’s encounter between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer should be replayed, studied, discussed and memorized at every single yeshiva and Jewish day school. Make the debate a mandatory part of the curriculum. Why? Because there are few more concise, dramatic and entertaining ways to engage in one of the central ongoing questions Judaism asks: How do you balance the need for money with the curse of money?"

    Here is the Rundown on this conflict:

    Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show had been taking on stock market analysts including Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money in his popular segment where he shows video clips from the news. Hindsight is 20/20 and these segments are always hilarious because they record in full-color oh-how-wrong-they-are. Embarrassing clips of Cramer speaking positively about Bear Sterns a few days before its collapse began a media war between the two. This video on YouTube is a 5 minute review of those events leading up to the appearance of Cramer on The Daily Show.

    After several passive-aggressive back and forths from both sides Jon Stewart finally had Jim Cramer on his show this Thursday.

    Here are the full, unedited interviews complements of Comedy Central. Watch Part One and you can continue onto Part Two and Three. Then read LA Jewish Journal's thought-provoking post and be part of the discussion on LA Jewish Journal's Swindler's List.


    What is Tu B'shevat?

    Tree Necklace

    (Love Tree Necklace by Seeka)

    Tu B'shwhat?

    Tu B'shevat literally means the "15th of Shevat" the Hebrew month which falls in the common calendar's January to early February. But Tu B'shevat is considered the Jewish New Year of Trees. Trees are extremely important in Judaism: trees are used metaphorically to consider G-d and life in Judaism and the planting of trees is holy. Combine that with the very modern importance of reclaiming the baron desert of Israel through planting trees, and it's easy to see why a celebration of trees is part of our tradition.

    (There are actually four "new year" celebrations in the Jewish calendar: Rosh Hashanah being the one we all know and love for the apples dipped in honey. There is also 1st day of the month in which Passover falls which is the New Year of Festivals, and then the first of Elul, falling late August, is the New Year of Cows. Really. )

    The origin of Tu B'shevat

    The Jewish New Year of Trees was originally the date Jews used to calculate the age of trees. A tree is as old as how many Tu B'shevats it has been on Earth. Why is this important -- to calculate the age of trees? Well, there is a Commandment in the Torah that people shouldn't eat the fruit from trees for the first four years: no one eats for the first three and then during the fourth year the fruit is picked but not eaten (instead is donated to "G-d"). Then after the tree reaches four years of age, people can eat the fruit. Go ahead and ask "why four years?" but there is no good answer except "it is Commanded."

    Modern Celebration

    The Tu B'Shevat seder began as a Kabbalistic Jewish mystical practice in the 17th century. Ecologically minded Jews have adopted Tu B'shevat as a time to honor conservation and sustainable agriculture. (I bet Madonna celebrates.) The seder pretty much consists of drinking wine, eating fruit, praising G-d for creating these things, and reminded ourselves that we are stewards of the Earth. One way we drive home the point is by eating carob. Carob is indigenous of the land of Israel and it takes a special meaning because of how long it takes to bear fruit: up to 70 years. "Why plant a carob tree if you won't live to eat its fruit?," an old man is asked in a Talmudic tale. The old man replies that it is for his children and grandchildren. We must take care of this world for the next generation.

    Along with carob, it is traditional to eat the "seven species", which are fruits of the earth mentioned in the bible and native to the land of Israel: pomegranates, dates, barley, wheat, figs, olives, and grapes. Also, participants get to drink four glasses of wine ranging from white to red. So, for example, you'd start with a Chardonnay, moving to a White Zinfandel (those morally opposed to white zin can obstain), continue with a Pinot, and end with a Cabernet.