Will We Ever “Get Back to Normal?”

Now that vaccination is underway, Americans are wondering when we can “get back to normal.” Some health experts are warning that we never will.

Normal is of course a slippery word, given that many Americans have had to report to work or have chosen to dine out, travel, and do all sorts of things that others have avoided. But whatever people have not been doing for the past year, they can expect to keep not doing it this spring.

…our desire for “normalcy” has inhibited the very return to a fuller life that we all seek, encouraging us to take risks that we shouldn’t and avoid risks that we should be willing — even eager — to take.

It is a phrase as optimistic as it is anticipatory. But it hides a burning question: When will things be normal again? [.] In general, there are too many unknowns to say definitively when the coronavirus pandemic will end.

What’s the Future of Green Energy?

Widespread power outages in Texas left many without heat and clean water while prompting a national debate about the value and future of green energy.

Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectricity are already overtaking fossil fuels as the dominant means of power generation in some parts of the developed world.

Those who dismiss ideas like the “green new deal” as mere left-wing fantasies miss the enormous appeal of these programs for corporations looking for new business opportunities.

Common-sense has already lost to political considerations — and people across Texas and the Great Plains are paying the price… if politicians continue to push unreliable renewable energy instead of the reliable sources families need to stay warm and live their lives. A green future shouldn’t be this dark.

Was Michael Che’s Joke Antisemitic?

On Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update feature, comedian Michael Che quipped: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half.” Some Jewish groups are calling this joke antisemitic.

Che’s joke wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t something someone accidentally let air on a decades-long television show with a cast and crew in the hundreds. It wasn’t even new for him. Was the line anti-Semitic? Yep. Was it also absolutely intended? You betcha.

So why would we be silly enough to attack Michael Che as an anti-Semite when we can be far more effective respecting him and giving him the facts?

If everything is antisemitic, than nothing is, so the appellation must be used sparingly… Antisemitism is a serious charge. It is the heavy ammo. And you don’t need to take out the cannons to kill a mosquito.

What’s New in Jewish Education?

Here are three takes on how Jewish communities can improve how they teach about Judaism and Israel:

Because of our relatively small population size, we simply do not have the luxury of shunning others within our Jewish family. By using nuanced educational approaches, we can help reverse polarization trends in our community and build a Jewish future that is more compassionate…

We are no longer just confined to dates in Israel’s history that we feel compelled to transmit. Instead, Israel education can occur through a cooking class, arts and/or cultural event or any other experience that enables people to build their own meaningful relationships with Israel.

…colleges and universities must make anti-Semitism education part of their explicit and implicit curricula… We cannot, we must not, assume that the Jews will be OK. Colleges and universities must act.

How Can the Rise in Violence Against Asian Americans Be Stopped?

America is facing a surge in violent crimes directed against Asian Americans. What can be done to stop this disturbing trend? More at The Guardian.

Presumably, we should be looking for a solution, but not a single person on CNN or MSNBC is suggesting the most obvious one: more policing… Liberals spent all of 2020 on a campaign to keep police out of areas with minority populations…

…many Asian Americans [feel] that keeping their community safe should not mean turning to increased policing—especially in the wake of a national reckoning this summer with systemic police brutality… Many community leaders have therefore taken a vocal stance on interracial solidarity.

There is something wrong with the way Americans think about who deserves social justice… Asian-Americans are tired of insisting that others care. The truth is that few are listening.

How Much Drama Can a Cookie Cause?

Turns out that a Hamantaschen — the signature cookie of Purim — can cause a lot of drama. It all started in 2015 when a non-Jewish writer published an article in Bon Appetit (originally titled “How to Make Actually Good Hamantaschen”) suggesting ways to innovate on the Purim classic. In 2021, one Jewish tweeter (below) found this very offensive. Bon Appetit responded by changing their title.

Traditional foods do not automatically need to be updated, especially by someone who does not come from that tradition.

Behold in this little story, dear reader, the apotheosis of Woke. No transgression of sensitivities is so trivial that it will not invite a moralizing rebuke on social media.

The original version of this article included language that was insensitive toward Jewish food traditions and does not align with our brand’s standards. As part of our Archive Repair Project, we have edited the headline, dek, and content to better convey the history of Purim…

Today’s Hot Issues

Will We Ever “Get Back to Normal?” What’s the Future of Green Energy? Was Michael Che’s Joke Antisemitic? What’s New in Jewish Education? How Can the Rise in Violence Against Asian Americans Be Stopped? How Much Drama Can a Cookie Cause?