Category Archives: Podcast

Emma Watson is Wrong About Israel

As a proud Jewish person, I get tired of the antisemitic, anti-Israel bullshit. For once, I wish we would just get over it and move on with their lives. As I see it, it takes way too much physical and emotional energy to hate another person simply because of who they are. Why not just live and let live?

Recently, Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson made a rather controversial post on her Instagram account.

Outside of her work as a performer, Watson is known as a feminist and a humanitarian. The fact that she is committed to both causes is nothing to sneeze at. But they are undermined when Israel is marginalized and demonized due to either purposeful lies or ignorance. Watson seems to be an intelligent and educated woman with a dedication to creating a better world. The problem is that she, like many people either ignore the facts or doesn’t bother to do their research before professing support of a terrorist organization. The issue grows tenfold when someone who has a platform as she does spreads lies.

I have nothing against those of Palestinian origin. My problem is when a government uses their resources not to build up their country, but to destroy another and convince the people that the neighbor is to blame. One of the podcasts I regularly listen to, Israel Story, had a recent episode about the Sbarro suicide bombing that occurred in the summer of 2001. Instead of just interviewing the surviving victims and their family members, they also interviewed the family of the person responsible for the attack. While I find it heartening and revealing is that the brother of the bomber partially places the blame on his government, not on Israel (start at 1:12:39).

Is she antisemite? I don’t know, I’ve never had the opportunity to meet her in person. But I do know that Israel is the only nation in that region in which women are fully enfranchised. The Tel Aviv Pride parade is one of the biggest gay pride parades in the world. It is a full-fledged democracy in which all citizens, regardless of any societal labels, have the same rights and responsibilities.

I don’t want to tell her to shut up and look at her next script. But I do want to give her a history book and recommend that she do a little reading before making her next broad and misleading statement.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Feminism, International News, Judaism, Movies, Podcast, World News

Best Books of 2021

  1. The Four Winds: Kristen Hannah has done it again. Her Cinderella-esque tale of a woman who resecues herself from a live of drugery, poverty, and low self esteem is one to be read again and again.
  2. Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People: Ben M. Freeman‘s treatise on Jews, and Jewish history is a must read for anyone who for once and for all wants to defeat antisemitism and all forms of hate.
  3. Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol: Mallory O’Meara‘s non fiction book explores how inspite of a certain image, women have been creating and drinking all forms of alcohol for centuries.
  4. I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trumps Catastrophic Final Year: The subject of you know who will be on the lips of writers and political historians for years to come. Authors Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker examine how the former President believed that he did not need help in running the country.
  5. Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood: Writer and podcaster Mark Oppenheimer tells the story of how a single neighborhood was affected by the murders of eleven Jewish residents in 2018.
  6. Peril: Bob Woodward and Robert Costa take a deep dive into how close the American democracy got close to destruction.
  7. The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh: This JAFF by Molly Greeley gives the spotlight to Anne de Bourgh, a minor Pride and Prejudice character who has yet to be fully seen or appreciated.
  8. Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Become Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assasins-and WWII Heroes: This fascinating and powerful tale of three young ladies who led an underground war against the Nazis during World War II.
  9. Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers: Written by the Bonnet at Dawn podcast hosts, this book examines the life and works of the women writers we have loved and respected for generations.
  10. The Matzah Ball: A Novel: Jean Meltzer’s Chanukah themed rom-com about two people who are secretly in love, but cannot speak the words due to the current and past trauma.

Here’s to the books we loved in 2021 and the books we will love in 2022.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mental Health, National News, Podcast, Politics, Pride and Prejudice

Covid-19 Hit a Little Too Close to Home

It’s impossible to avoid Covid-19 these days, regardless of whether or not we contracted the virus.

Over the last couple of weeks, a friend of mine got sick from the disease and one of my cousins nearly got sick. Both were vaccinated.

The fact is that no one is immune. Any one of us can catch it at any time. What makes it so dangerous is that we can either have the virus inside of us and not know it or confuse it for a cold or the flu.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it extremely frustrating that we know what we need to do. Herd immunity is not an impossible task to complete. But because of a minority of fools, we continue to lose loved ones and keep our economy from getting back to where it was two years ago.

On a segments on one of my favorite podcasts, The MeidasTouch, an excellent and all too timely observation was made.

(Start at 1:06)

It’s not a hard concept to understand. Only an idiot would knowingly have unprotected sex with someone who has an STD or AIDS. By the same token, only an idiot would refuse to take basic measures that would save their life.

My fear is that these idiots will be the downfall for us all.

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Filed under National News, Podcast, Politics

People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present Book Review

Anyone with an inkling of knowledge of Jewish history knows that it comes down to one phrase: they tried to kill us, we survived, now lets eat”. Though its a joke, the truth behind it is far from funny. Over the millennia, we have been accused of lies, forced to convert and assimilate to survive, persecuted, and murdered.

Dara Horn‘s new book, People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present, was published last month. A respected novelist and writer whose work has often focused on anything and everything related to Judaism, Horn examines how we look at deceased Jews are looked with starry eyed nostalgia. But yet, when it comes to living members of the faith, antisemitism is still an all too dangerous part of our lives. Using examples such as Anne Frank, Shylock, and the Auschwitz. Not Long Ago, Not Far Away, Horn looks at how modern Jews are experiencing the same bullshit that our ancestors went through.

I loved this book. Pulling no punches, the author knocks the rose colored glasses off the reader’s face. She forces us to take a long and difficult look at the past and how its time to get real. As I see it, we have an opportunity to put to rest the deception that has caused too many generations to suffer for no reason. The question is, are we willing to do so? Or is it easier to just repeat the actions of our predecessors?

Do I recommend it? Yes.

P.S. There is an adjoining podcast, Adventures With Dead Jews that is the perfect complement to the book.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Podcast

Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong (A Podcast from Rotten Tomatoes) Podcast Review

The good thing about the movies (or any art form), is that it is subjective. What one person likes, the other may not like. Which can lead to some very interesting discussions.

In the fall of 2020, the website Rotten Tomatoes released a new podcast. Entitled Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong (A Podcast from Rotten Tomatoes), hosts Mark Ellis, Jacqueline Coley, and guests take a deep dive into our favorite movies and television shows. Some are hated, some are loved, and others are somewhere in between.

I discovered this podcast recently and I am thrilled that it exists. I can hear the fun that the hosts and the guests are having. Its akin to getting together with friends and having a lively discussion about our favorite (and not so favorite) films and television shows.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Movies, Podcast, Podcast Review, Television

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives Inspiration and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers Book Review

It takes a brave or naïve person (or both) to step out of the boundaries that the world around them has created. This person knows that when they start to think for themselves, there is a potential firestorm of naysayers and finger pointing. But they do it anyway.

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives Inspiration and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers, was published in April. Written by Lauren Burke and Hannah K Chapman (hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, Bonnets at Dawn) with artwork by Kaley Bales, the book tells the story of some of the greatest women writers of the 19th and 20 centuries. In additional to listing their most well known works and providing a brief biography, the book also highlights how these women paved the way for future generations to succeed as both women and writers. The list includes Jane Austen, Anne Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, etc.

I loved this book. The artwork is beautiful, the description of the subjects are beautifully written. It made we want to learn more about these women and continue to work towards the day when my writing will be as good and inspiring as theirs.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Feminism, George Eliot, History, Jane Austen, Podcast

Thoughts On the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre

Hate is powerful. It turns us away from the humanity of our fellow mortals and only shows us the negative stereotypes we want to see.

This past weekend was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. It is one of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history. The Greenwood District of Tulsa, in Oklahoma was known locally as Black Wall Street. Outside of the Greenwood District, the residents knew that they would be treated as second class citizens. But inside of the district was another story. It was a vibrant and thriving community that disproved the racist ideas about African-Americans. Unfortunately, some Caucasian members of the community had their minds blown by this success and used the accusation (which has not been verified) that a black man attacked a white teenage girl.

By the time the dust settled, hundreds were dead and the neighborhood looked like a war zone. To make matters worse, it was not spoken of until recently. In light of the fact that this disgusting event has been buried, both WNYC and CNN told the story of the destruction. The new six part podcast, Blindspot: Tulsa Burning, and TV movie, Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street, told the compelling and heartbreaking story of those horrific days. I highly recommend both.

This was a pogrom. The actors and the location have changed, but the reason (if you want to call it that) and the results were the same. I wish that it had not taken a century for this country to remember and honor the memories of those who were killed. But it has. The only thing we can do is talk about it and educate our children so this never happens again.

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Podcast, Podcast Review, Television, Thoughts On...., WNYC

Hebrew School Podcast Review

For people of many faiths, the question of how to educate their children in the doctrines and traditions of said faith is not always easy to answer. While the obvious answer is sending their children to full time religious school, not every parents wants to or is able to do so. The compromise is that the child(ren) will go to secular public school and then attend religious school.

The second season of the Tablet magazine podcast, Hebrew School, premiered this past weekend. Now hosted by Frank Spiro and Sabrina Marielle Friedman, this quiz show brings in young contestants, asking them questions about Jewish history, culture, and holidays. Using games, songs, and sound effects, these kids are challenged on their knowledge of everything Jewish.

This podcast is adorable. I wish it had existed when I was in Hebrew school. It is brilliant, charming, funny, and educational for listeners of any age.

P.S. Shout out to Sabrina for the Destiny’s Child reference. It was good laugh and made this old millennial feel old.

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Filed under Music, Podcast, Podcast Review

Let’s Talk About Hard Things Book Review

Hard conversations are hard for a reason. But until we have them, we cannot overcome the reason for the conversation.

The new book, Lets Talk About Hard Things, by Anna Sale (host of the WNYC podcast Death, Sex, and Money) was published earlier this month. Based on the podcast, Ms. Sale goes deeper into the difficult topics that we need to go over, but for a variety of reasons, keep inside of us. Talking about death, sex, money, family, and identity (all of which are complicated), she allows both her readers and the people she interviews to release what is holding them back and living a fulfilling life.

I loved this book. The author is as amiable and authentic on the page as she is on the show. Her approach is a gentle one, opening the door and allowing a confessional style interview that feels like two friends meeting for drinks, not a journalist speaking to an interviewee.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Life, Podcast, WNYC

This Latest Round of The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict is Starting to Scare Me

As a third generation American Jew, I’ve grown up in the safety and security of the United States. I’ve always known that antisemitism exists, but it has hit me in the face this week with the latest round of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

For the first time in a long time, I am scared.

I am scared that there are too many in this world who believe the lies that Hamas (and Iran by extension tells the world). Human rights are universal and always important, but they can also be twisted to fit one’s perspective.

I am scared that some of my Jewish brothers and sisters are falling for the falsehoods that could kill them. Across the United States, Jews have been attacked by pro-Palestinian mobs. In Los Angeles, a mob screamed at customers and threw glass bottles as they eat outside a restaurant. I am all for peace, but how does one make peace with a neighbor who constantly agitates for your death?

I am scared that the Israel I know and love will cease to exist. Not just due to the violence within the region, but due to the silence and the complicity (again) by the outside world. I am scared that both Palestinian and Israeli children will grow up not only psychologically damaged, but also unable to see past the fears and hatred that they were taught by the adults around them.

If you listen to only one thing today, listen to last week’s episode from the podcast Us Among the Israelis. I cannot imagine what it is like to not be able to function normally, not knowing when a rocket may fall on your home or place of business. It’s akin to living during the Blitz. But instead of this happening during a specific time in history, it becomes a common occurance.

I am a Jew and proud of it. I have yet to move away from my faith and will likely never. But that does not mean that it scares the shit out of me.

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Filed under History, International News, Podcast, World News