News Update: Offbeat Jewish News Edition

If you don’t blog about Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), are you even a Jewish blogger? And yet, the Rosh Hashanah post I want to post is taking too long to write (timely blog content has never been my strong suit), so I’m doing a News Update post on 7 Jewish-related news stories (7 in honor of Shabbat, you know?) as my pseudo Rosh Hashanah post.

At this rate, I’ll post my real Rosh Hashanah post for Valentine’s Day. “Rosh Hashana 5777 | ראש השנה תשע’ז” by Lilachd is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As always, I shall cover the amusing, light-hearted stories, not the important, controversial, or sad. Btw, I’m not covering any Rosh Hashanah/Sukkot inspirational message stuff. First off, I’m not feeling any of that and secondly, you can just google – it’s all over the internet. Unless otherwise noted, bolding in the quotes is mine.

1) This High Holiday season, a Twitter ‘Repentance Bot’ wants to teach people how to apologize for real

Twitter is the new place to atone, thanks to a bot programmed by Jewish coders who want users to apologize better….“Repentance Bot” allows users to tag the account when they see an apology that they believe falls short. The bot then replies to the apology with encouragement to do better and a comic strip laying out five steps to take to do so.

https://www.jta.org/2022/09/07/religion/this-high-holiday-season-a-twitter-repentance-bot-wants-to-teach-people-how-to-apologize-for-real

This has changed my opinion of Twitter for the better. Prior to reading this article, I thought Twitter was a totally worthless place, offering nothing but self-promotion, anger/offense in 280 characters or less, and bad poetry. This article has convinced me that there is someone on Twitter with both a goal of self & societal improvement and a sense of humor.

That said, I don’t think Repentance Bot is quite nailing the apology. Notice how this tweet in response to using a font incompatible with screen readers for the visually-impaired doesn’t actually admit wrongdoing or mention words like “we’re sorry“. It’s got the “thank you for letting us know” and “we promise to do better” elements of apology, but the “sorry, we screwed up” is conspicuously absent.

2. Lox block: UWS congregation takes beloved salmon off the menu, citing environmental concerns

A synagogue on the Upper West Side has announced that it will no longer serve lox…during its weekly kiddush lunches…the popular Ashkenazi delicacy will be “eliminated from the menu so we can do our part to reduce the environmental impact of pollution and overfishing.

https://www.jta.org/2022/09/09/ny/lox-block-uws-congregation-takes-smoked-salmon-off-the-menu-citing-environmental-concerns

WTF?!? If you want to be more sustainable, use biodegradable / compostable paper goods. Offer more vegetarian and vegan options. Buy lox from the purveyors who source salmon sustainably. But kiddush is the key to Jewish community – don’t skimp on this!

Fortunately, the congregation eventually came to its senses:

Lox is back on the menu at B’nai Jeshurun, the Upper West Side synagogue that last week said it would stop serving the delicacy at the kiddush luncheons that follow Saturday morning services.

https://www.jta.org/2022/09/13/ny/go-fish-lox-back-on-menu-at-upper-west-side-synagogue

It gladdens my heart to know that other people feel as I do about kiddush, and, in true Jewish fashion, complained enough such that the policy was changed.

Don’t fuck with lox at kiddush. Photo by Lucie Liz: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bagel-with-salmon-3957499/

In other good news related to food:

3. Fake glorious food: the rise of Israeli innovation in foodtech

First, cue musical interlude! Ok, now to the “meat” of the story:

From fish made from plants to 3D printed meat, Israeli companies are creating astounding opportunities to tackle the food industry’s biggest challenges: feeding an escalating population with diminishing food supplies and creating foods without damaging the environment.

https://www.jewishnews.co.uk/fake-glorious-food-the-rise-of-israeli-innovation-in-foodtech/

It’s a great feature piece highlighting several cool Israeli companies, and it’s worth the read. However, I take issue with this sentiment:

On a lighter note, it could mean kashrut keepers being able to eat ‘fake’ milk and meat together for the first time (but as both are fake you might need to check with a rabbi first – probably a discussion for a whole other article!).

https://www.jewishnews.co.uk/fake-glorious-food-the-rise-of-israeli-innovation-in-foodtech/

I sense the author trying to be funny, but no. There is no need to ask a rabbi to eat two vegan products together. Inventing kashrut problems where they don’t exist is not funny. It’s not funny that the OU decided not to certify Impossible Pork simply because of the name “pork”, and it’s not funny that David Zvi Kalman thinks we should invent a new system of kashrut for fake meat products. Judaism is not improved when people invent halachic problems that didn’t exist in the first place.

There’s no bull in these plant-based burgers. But to invent new kashrut laws around them? That’s bullshit. “No Bull burgers from Iceland. As far as I know, the first plant-based ‘bleeding burger’ available in a UK supermarket. I haven’t eaten a beef burger in 30 years, so I only have soya burgers to compare it to. It was like a larger, but soft, soya burger and” by World of Oddy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

I could do an entire News Update on Jewish food stories alone because there are so many – a Brazilian Jews vs. Arabs hummus championship, NY vs. Montreal-Style Bagel Face Off, Junior’s Cheesecake saving the world one gun buy back at a time (seriously!) But for variety, I’ll switch to something else:

4) Bnot Brak – The Ultra-Orthodox Answer to Real Housewives

Bnot Brak – a feminine play on words on the name of the city of Bnei Brak, is a new Israeli reality show about Haredi women.

The five women who star in Bnot Brak…represent a new kind of ultra-Orthodox woman: one who doesn’t hide owning a smartphone, has an active social media presence, dresses fashionably and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

https://www.australianjewishnews.com/bnot-brak-the-ultra-orthodox-answer-to-real-housewives/

First off, the title of this reality show is brilliant. (“Bnei” literally means “sons” and “Bnot” means “daughters”). Second, I’m seriously impressed that these women were willing to participate given their families’ and communities’ attitudes towards the outside secular world generally.

Mostly, I find it intriguing that the show will feature a cast that looks homogenous but that has a diversity of thought opinions (the article cites divisive topics like social media and the teaching of secular subjects), in contrast to the current trend of casting a diverse-looking cast and assuming that will produce diversity of opinions. The latter is important, but I feel the conversation about what diversity means shouldn’t stop at the appearance of the cast. Obviously, diversity is relative and Haredi women willing to appear on a reality show is a very narrow slice of society that will probably agree on many things. Still, I think it’s an intriguing concept and approach.

That said, I feel like this would be a boring reality TV format – no competition,lots of sitting around talking, and no manufactured drama. Then again, I’m making a ton of assumptions here – I could be totally off-base.

5) Sell Rosh Hashanah, Buy Yom Kippur? Revisiting The Market Adage In Turbulent 2022

I almost didn’t include this because I questioned if a retrospective look at historic stock performance counts as news. But I’d never heard of this adage and had to find out more:

One old market adage that is commonly mentioned just ahead of the Jewish holidays is “Sell Rosh Hashanah, Buy Yom Kippur.”…The rule’s origin is based on the concept that followers of the Jewish faith want to be free from material possessions during the most sacred period of the calendar year.

During the 10 days between the two major holidays, Jews reflect on their actions from the previous year and atone for their sins…Upon completion of the cleansing process, they’re free to return to the markets and evaluate investments for the upcoming year.

https://www.benzinga.com/trading-ideas/22/09/28996682/sell-rosh-hashanah-buy-yom-kippur

My initial reaction was “Is this really a thing?” According to the internet, yes, this is a real strategy. IMO, this has to be the strangest High Holiday practice ever. Still, if any Jew is actually selling their whole stock portfolio for Rosh Hashanah and buying it back after Yom Kippur…well, they’re a much more devout believer than I am.

Important Disclaimer: Jewish Young Professional does not provide financial advice. If you do anything stupid and suffer the consequences, it’s your own damn fault and Jewish Young Professional takes zero responsibility.

Wisdom for the day: Contact a financial advisor for investment advice, not an internet rando who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Photo by Nick Chong on Unsplash

6) Biden to host first-ever White House Rosh Hashanah party

President Joe Biden is bringing a Jewish High Holiday celebration to the White House for the first time.

His White House is hosting a Rosh Hashanah reception on Sept. 30

https://www.jta.org/2022/09/20/politics/biden-to-host-first-ever-white-house-rosh-hashanah-party

Umm…Sept 30, 2022 isn’t Rosh Hashanah. Also, it’s a Friday. (And it’s today, because even my fake Rosh Hashanah post is late…) Does the guest list include congregational rabbis? They tend to be busy on Friday nights.

Actually, Jewish Insider clarifies that the party is on Friday morning. Also, according to Jewish Insider:

Most years, the White House Hanukkah party is the hottest Jewish ticket in town.

https://jewishinsider.com/2022/09/joe-jill-biden-rosh-hashanah-white-house-party/

That makes sense. Everyone loves Hanukkah. It’s a fun holiday with almost no religious observance requirements. Everyone loves Hanukkah parties. Everyone wants more fried food and donuts. No one wants more Rosh Hashanah. Like who has ever wished for a third day of Rosh Hashanah? No one.

In case you’re wondering, your favorite Jewish personal blogger was not invited to the White House party.

7) USPS Celebrates Hanukkah With a New Stamp

Are you sick of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the whole Jewish fall holiday season? Maybe you’re over the mandatory introspection, Twitter apologies, bad stock trades, and the extra day of Rosh Hashanah at the White House?

Well, good news! The US Postal Service has rolled out their new Hanukkah postage stamp and is celebrating the new stamp with a dedication ceremony and hashtag (bolding below is USPS’s, not mine):

The U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of celebrating Hanukkah, the joyous Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights, with the issuance of a new Hanukkah Forever stamp.

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony is free and open to the public. News of the stamp is being shared with the hashtag #HanukkahStamp.

https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2022/0906ma-usps-celebrates-hanukkah-with-a-new-stamp.htm

The Cleveland Jewish News has more details about the stamp design and the dedication ceremony to be held at a Cleveland-area synagogue. Here’s the RSVP page if you want to attend the stamp dedication ceremony.

As an aside, I’m so Jewish that when I first looked up the stamp specs on USPS.com and read “Gallus RCS”, I actually thought this was a reference to Galut (exile)

But no, USPS is referencing the press type, not Jewish exile from Israel. Screenshot of the USPS Hanukkah Stamp page by me.

Shabbat Shalom, y’all! If you’re at Biden’s Rosh Hashanah party without me, you better tell me all the details!

28 comments

  1. You make the Jewish New Year out to be quite entertaining. I had to wait to order some equipment from B&H Photo until the 28th. That was fine. I just have to show it was ordered before the 30th, the end of our fiscal year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Rosh Hashanah holiday was good but complicated, and actually not as entertaining as previous years – hence the collection of news stories (which took a really long time, actually. It might have just been faster to write the Rosh Hashanah post….) instead. Glad you enjoyed. I like putting together these News Update style posts, although they always take longer than I anticipate.

      Ah yeah, B&H is very Jewish. I know someone who works for them actually. Good thing you got the order in now before Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I also buy equipment from Adorama. Printique by Adorama does all my printing. Another very Jewish company. I’ve been dealing with B&H and Adorama since the 80s when they sent me catalogs and I had to call and order over the phone. A landline, nonetheless.

        Like

    • Good question. But given that the new 2022 Hanukkah postage stamp is like, the least stupid thing to come out of US Federal government in a while, I’m going to take this as a win. Let us have this, Canada!

      They’ll have to raise synagogue membership dues to cover the cost of 3D printed lox at kiddush!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been making black bean burgers with fake cheese for years, simply because I don’t like meat, even though I am not vegetarian (chicken and fish are fine by me), and I can’t have dairy products. They do need a hecksher, for valid halachic reasons. Certified Vegan does not mean Certified Kosher for at least two obvious reasons, and perhaps more.
    Shabbat Shalom, darling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I completely agree with you. Certified Vegan does not and should not necessarily equal Certified Kosher. I’m well-aware that there are valid halachic reasons for why a vegan product may not get a hechsher. And had the OU determined that there were valid halachic reasons during their inspection audit process of the Impossible Pork plant, I’d absolutely agree with their decision not to give it a hechsher.

      My problem with the OU’s decision is that if you read the original article and quotes from the OU, it sounds like the only problem they had with the product was the product name, not an actual halachic issue with the kashrut of the food. I know this isn’t the first time that hechshers have been denied based on, say, a restaurant’s name, but I feel like having the OU give/deny a hechsher based on factors that have nothing to do with the product ingredients and processing is not a positive thing.

      Shabbat shalom!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Jeshuaisten / Jeshuaists and commented:
    For us Rosh Hashana for Hebrew Year 5783 began on Sunday, 25 September 2022 and ended on Tuesday, 27 September 2022 and we made the best of it.

    Though perhaps late, we love to share this writing of a’ Jewish Young Professional’ who is not shy about dropping a sarcastic but also humorous overtone and who finds that Rosh Hashanah should suck more than secular New Year’s. Rosh Hashanah like being a liturgical marathon, though for us such service would only take about 3 hours (she and some others perhaps finding it much too long). But good luck, there’s some good food afterwards, making it a “happy” holiday,

    CoViD affected every community. No matter how kind, warm, and well-intentioned the community, we all now have to find a way to get back on track. Concerning meals, we just had to be on our own, figuring out to have something that did not contribute to the pollution of this world.

    At the European continent, some of us may be living far away from a synagogue where we can come together daily, so we have to do it with weekly services and meetings at homes of brothers and sisters. There we can enjoy the food which the host has prepared, and for whatever it may be we say ‘praise to Hashem’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hadn’t heard about the “Sell Rosh Hashanah, buy Yom Kippur” thing. Weird.

    Re: the White House Rosh Hashanah party on a Friday, it sounds like the typical “Try to seem philosemitic while not thinking about what Jews actually do” thing, although not as funny as when The Labour Party, in the midst of the massive antisemitism controversy, posted a “Happy Passover” image on social media that had a picture of a leavened loaf of bread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And the kinda spiritual language couching this trading advice is so strange. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any Rabbi say to give up material possessions or refer to RH-YK as a cleansing period. It almost feels like someone took another religion’s practice, tacked the Jewish calendar onto it, and then turned it into investment advice.

      That’s pretty funny re: The Labour Party’s Passover greeting. My dad tells the story of when his university decided to cater to the Jewish students when they heard it was a Jewish holiday…so they served bagels. It was Yom Kippur

      Liked by 1 person

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