How Do You Jew An educational, informational, conversational blog and (someday) podcast about Judaism, Jewish practices, customs, and rituals, Israel, and whatever else we decide to talk about.

April 28, 2008

A tiny little division…

Filed under: entertainment,Family,funny,humor,Life Online,Parenting — howdoyoujew @ 15:13

…of a major corporate behemoth, I know, but it’s still a cool bunch of people. Some years ago, Hallmark set up Shoebox to create and market humorous greetings cards. They also had a website in the early days of the web called “Funny, but No” to show off card ideas that didn’t make it past the corporate suits. This feature was a favorite of mine way back when, and then it went away.

Then the web infiltrated popular culture totally, and people’s ideas of what was in bad taste shifted noticeably, so the feature is again available on the company’s blog (note that they’re even using the freely available Blogger rather than some fancy, costly, “professional” blog hosting thing).

One of the artists on staff at Shoebox, Brian (who is presumably one of the men in the photograph on the right here), and Brian recently became a dad. I know this because Brian is cartooning his new life as the father of an infant and capturing the experience brilliantly. To wit:
how being a parent is like the ending of a bad slasher film

Check out more of Brian’s work.

April 24, 2008

The Onion takes on the latest US-Israel espionage story

Filed under: entertainment,Israel,News,satire — howdoyoujew @ 09:32

I’ve only caught snippets of the story, since I don’t always hear the entire news broadcasts at the top of the hour from Israel while listening to Reshet Gimmel, but I got the gist of it from this brief review, courtesy of The Onion:

The Onion: Israel got nuclear secrets from 85-year-old American engineer(click for full size version)

April 11, 2008

Shabbat shalom and happy bageling!

Despite the name of the practice, bageling is a very appropriate Pesach activity. I was introduced to this charmingly named entertainment by a friend of my dad’s, who forwarded me the column below today. Happily, unlike in the case of many such forwards, this one still had the author’s byline, and a little Googling turned up the happy coincidence that she is a fellow San Diegan. One quick missive turned into a spirited round of Jewish geography, mutual Shabbat dinner invitations, and a new friend in town. So without further ado, please enjoy (original post at aish.com, with comments):

The Bagel Theory
by Jessica Levine Kupferberg
Some Chanukah food for thought about Jewish connectedness. (originally published December 9, 2007)

This time of year can be challenging for Jews. After the joy of Chanukah subsides, we find ourselves adrift in the Red and Green sea. Our halls are markedly undecked while most of the world is encrusted in boughs of holly. The glare of tinsel and little multi-colored lights blind us at every turn. We dread the awkward pause after someone wishes us something merry and know the discomfort of holiday parties for a holiday that we don’t celebrate.

What can be done to combat the isolation? How can we satisfy a hunger for Jewish connection?

‘Tis the season to go forth and …. bagel.

The Beginning of Bageling

It all started when my friend Doodie Miller– who wears a kippah — was back in college and suffering through a tedious lecture. As the professor droned on, a previously-unknown young woman leaned over and whispered in his ear:

“This class is as boring as my Zayde’s seder.”

You see, the woman knew that she did not “look” Jewish, nor did she wear any identifying signs like a Star of David. So foregoing the awkward declaration, “I’m Jewish,” the girl devised a more nuanced — and frankly, cuter — way of heralding her heritage.

This incident launched a hypothesis which would henceforth be known as the Bagel Theory.

The Bagel Theory stands for the principle that we Jews, regardless of how observant or affiliated we are, have a powerful need to connect with one another. To that end, we find ways to “bagel” each other — basically, to “out” ourselves to fellow Jews.

There are two ways to bagel. The brave or simply unimaginative will tell you straight out that they are Jewish (a plain bagel). But the more creative will concoct subtler and even sublime ways to let you know that they, too, are in the know. (These bagels are often the best; like their doughy counterparts, cultural bagels are more flavorful when there is more to chew on.)

Bageled at Boggle

I suspect that Jews have been bageling even before real bagels were invented. And while my husband and I may not have invented bageling, we do seem to have a steady diet of bagel encounters.

An early bagel favorite occurred when my kippah-wearing husband and I were dating, and we spent a Saturday evening at a funky coffee house with friends. We engaged in a few boisterous rounds of Boggle, the game where you must quickly make words out of jumbled lettered cubes. Observing our fun, a couple of college students at a nearby table asked if they could play too. After we rattled the tray and furiously scribbled our words, it was time to read our lists aloud. One of the students, who sported a rasta hat and goatee, proudly listed the word “yad.” Unsuspecting, we inquired, “What’s a yad?” He said with a smirk, “You know, that pointer you read the Torah with.” Yes, we were bageled at Boggle.

On our honeymoon in Rome, we were standing at the top of the Spanish steps next to a middle-aged couple holding a map. The husband piped up in an obvious voice, “I wonder where the synagogue is.” My husband and I exchanged a knowing look at this classic Roman bagel and proceeded to strike up a conversation with this lovely couple from Chicago. After we took them to the synagogue, they asked to join us at the kosher pizza shop. As we savored the cheeseless arugula and shaved beef pizza — to this day the best pizza I have ever had — this non-religious couple marveled at traveling kosher and declared they would do so in the future. A satisfying bagel to be sure.

Holy Bagel

In the years since, our bagel encounters have become precious souvenirs, yiddishe knick-knacks from our family adventures in smaller Jewish communities. Like the time the little boy at the Coffee Bean in Pasadena, California, walked up to my husband, pulled out a mezuzah from around his neck, smiled and ran away. (A non-verbal bagel!) Or our day trip to the pier in San Clemente, California when an impish girl in cornrows and bikini scampered over to say “Good Shabbos.”

We have been bageled waiting at airline ticket counters, in elevators, at the supermarket checkout. And I myself have been known to bagel when the situation calls for it, like the time I asked the chassid seated a few rows up on an airplane if I could borrow a siddur.

On a recent trip abroad, however, we did not get bageled even once. That was in Israel where, thankfully, there is just no need.

Ultimately, why do we feel this need to bagel? Does it stem from our shared patriarchs, our pedigree of discrimination and isolation, a common love of latkes or just the human predisposition to be cliquey? I maintain it is something more. Our sages say that all Jews were originally one interconnected soul which stood in unison at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Now scattered across the Earth, as we encounter each other’s Jewish souls, we recognize and reconnect with a piece of our divine selves. The bagel may have a hole, but we bagel in a quest to feel whole.

So the next time a sweaty stranger at the gym says to you, “I haven’t been this thirsty since Yom Kippur,” smile. You’ve just been bageled — adding another link in the Jewish circle of connection.

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