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    Natalie's Directorial Debut

    A few weeks ago we reported that Natalie Portman was adding "Designer" to her resume with the debut of a line of shoes in conjunction with fashion house Te Casan. Well this renaissance woman will now be making her directorial debut with a screen adaptation of "A Tale of Love and Darkness," Amos Oz's memoir of growing up in Jerusalem in the '40s and '50s. Word has it that the film will be made in Hebrew, so you don't know Hebrew, now is a good time to learn!

    It's a Big Jewish Tent

    Despite being the president of a Jewish group in the D.C. area for two years, I didn't know a lot about the online Jewish community. When I became ModernTribe's Director of Affiliate Programs, I started exploring Jewish sites I'd never looked at before. There were groups of all different stripes: educational, cultural, LGBT, musical, pro-Palestinian, literary, Hillels, social justice, and more.

    With such a diversity of interests and views, some Jews are bound to disagree with others and traditional stances. For example, the engrossing documentary Trembling Before G-d reveals the difficult position of Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish homosexuals trying "to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality." Watching the movie, I was struck by how much easier it would have been for them to change their denomination to one that accepted them, but I have to think that losing that connection to the Jewish community they were a part of was too great a price to pay.

    So one of the questions we asked ourselves is how to respond to questions such as "Why do you affiliate with groups that conflict with traditional Jewish beliefs?" Our response so far is that ModernTribe is open to an affiliation with any group that builds Jewish community, regardless of what stripe of Judaism, political beliefs, or other philosophy they adhere to. Our Jewish gifts are designed for younger, progressive Jews, so we felt our visitors would generally be open-minded. And isn't questioning and arguing about what it means to be Jewish the essence of Judaism?

    Fair Trade Judaica

    Jeremy pointed me to Fair Trade Judaica and I'm excited about it for a couple of reasons. First, they have links to Fair Trade coops which are producing Judaica and Kosher foods. They list a coop in South Africa who is producing Zen minimalist Judaica. Check it out:

    And they found Fair Trade chocolate gelt! (Don't be surprised if you see all this stuff on ModernTribe soon.)

    Ilana Schatz and David Lingren, the creators of, educate site visitors about the Fair Trade movement, but the biggest service of the website is that they outline how Fair Trade fits with Jewish values. They go into more depth and explanation on their site -- which I recommend you visit. But basically, they assert as Jews:

    • We are obligated to work for economic justice.
    • We are obligated that workers are treated justly.
    • We are obligated to be responsible consumers.

    And all these things are supported when we support Fair Trade. They continue with information about Jewish organizations involved with Fair Trade -- and add to that list the inspiration for two of my previous posts: Progressive Jewish Alliance's Anti-Sweat Shop Campaign.

    (See It's Not Easy to Be Sweat Shop Free and Celebrate Fair Trade Month with Kosher Kippot.)

    Anat Safran Creates Bags That Make You Smarter

    And whet your appetite! I am loving these Pita Bags that Ziva wrote about here.

    The Tel Aviv designer of the Pita Bags, Anat Safran, makes other handbags she calls Infobag, "the bag that makes you smarter." How? They are made from recycled encyclopedia pages. Brilliant. Are any of you old enough to have grown up with a set of World Books in your living room? I am! Those gold-gilded pages had the most magnificent illustrations. Wikipedia has made the paper version of the encyclopedia null and void but think of all the great bags Anat can make!

    Vote for Jerusalem Monopoly!

    The makers of Monopoly are inviting fans worldwide to vote in an online contest that will determine which 22 cities will be etched in the collective memory for a new global edition of the 75-year-old board game. The contest, which got under way this week and will continue through February 28, will allow Monopoly fans the world over to cast their ballots for the 10 best cities out of a pre-selected list of 68, including Jerusalem!

    Make your vote count here!