Three Great Weekend Reads

In case you missed them…

What can we learn from gibberish?

Is there any point to dating right now?

What’s the meaning of “Wine Mom” memes?

Gibberish – language that cannot be understood – is not quite the same as nonsense. In nonsense writing, we read individual words but can’t parse them into any meaning that makes sense according to conventional expectations. ‘Colourless green ideas sleep furiously,’ as Noam Chomsky put it in Syntactic Structures (1957), in an example of a semantically meaningless sentence with syntax present and correct. Gibberish, on the other hand, makes indecipherable words out of the sounds and letters of language.

It’s very possible that the way we date now — more virtually and more carefully — could become part of the “new normal” that society has been clumsily crawling toward since quarantine began. While some of the side effects of the pandemic on potential relationships have been positive (as Sable Yong argues in GQ, now is the time to shoot your shot!), dating has always been hard, and for the most part, the coronavirus has only complicated coupling.

Perhaps the most urgent problem wine-mom jokes reveal, however, is that modern parenting has become a more all-consuming, and isolating, job than it used to be. Jacobson noted that wine-mom memes could be understood as a tacit rejection of the recently idealized notion of momhood, the “supermom who can do it all”—but perhaps the existence of that standard in the first place is what makes mothering more stressful.

Three Great Jewish Reads

In case you missed them…

Can a “Karen” be Jewish?

How do Israelis feel about Bibi’s trial?

How can quarantine spark creativity?

Is just being Jewish enough? Can we really still say “we get it, we suffer too” without doing more to stretch out our hands (or stick out our necks) and help? The unrelenting pursuit of justice in an unjust world is a tenant of our faith “Justice, Justice you shall pursue” or “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” – it’s how we create Godliness on Earth… So today I’m doing some reflection on when I have been a “Karen,” when I haven’t done all that I could to speak up for what is right and demand change.

A survey taken by pollster Menachem Lazar revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party are still supported by the same number of people today as a month ago. Despite Netanyahu’s trial where he is facing bribery charges, voters did not change their minds during the first day of Netanyahu’s trial on May 24. He is still in a commanding position with 41 projected seats. The second largest party is 26 seats behind.

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to light a fire under your ass! Navigating the current business environment forces you to stretch your creativity and try new things. I have to say that while it is a lot more work in some ways it can be more rewarding. Given the limitations of what we can do in a restaurant and given the public’s hesitation to well, being in public we’ve been forced try a lot of new things.

Commentary on Shavuot

This week at the Jewish Journal, the holiday of Shavuot is under discussion. The holiday of Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and is commemorated with dairy treats, all night Torah Study, and reading the Book of Ruth.

“I live in a rural part of the United States. This gives me a unique insight into living an agrarian life which is also a deeply Jewish life… The connection for me between planting and harvesting and Torah is very strong.”

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was in the midst of the community of exiles by the Chebar Canal, the heavens opened, and I saw visions of God.

— Shavuot haftarah, Ezekiel 1:1

Rabbi Pinchas Winston: True, the giving of the Torah was the most esoteric moment in human history. Nevertheless, why focus on something so “heavenly” when the point of Shavuot is that Moses brought the Torah down to Earth?

On Shavuot we are reminded not only of the commitments of our ancestors, but also of our ongoing obligation to lead lives of compassion and justice, to love our neighbors and to repair our world. We are empowered to rededicate ourselves to these Jewish values as if we had been redeemed from slavery in Egypt, as if we had wandered through the desert and as if we were standing on Mount Sinai ready to begin a new life.

Three New Jewish Podcasts

Just in time for the weekend, three new podcasts about Judaism, Jewish culture, and Israel.

A conversation on the unique power of storytelling with Rutger Bruining in London, founder of Story Terrace.

“Storytelling is a very important part of family life and keeping memories alive. That’s what we try to provide to everyone.”

Shmuel Rosner and Matti Friedman discuss Matti’s new book, “Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War,” Israel’s war in Lebanon and why it has not received its place in the Israeli canon.

“We’re talking about 18 years. Israel invades Lebanon in 1982. Officially it ends that year, but Israel stays in Lebanon for another 18 years. That’s the period that doesn’t have a name and has never been recognized as a war.”

“For many, during these times, it’s all too easy to slip into hibernation after a steady diet of Netflix, while suffering existential angst, anxiety and apathy. Anything beyond that can seem, well, just too hard.

But, let’s face it. Nothingness – doing nothing – simply breeds more nothingness. So, it’s no surprise that the nation that made the desert bloom, has created a whole lot of some things out of this current Covid climate (CCC).”

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Weekend Reads Three Great Jewish Reads Commentary on Shavuot Three New Jewish Podcasts