Open Thread for Hordites not busy on Reddit.

TNC is on Reddit right now/was on Reddit earlier (I dunno. I’m not a Redditer, you see), and appears to have let the open thread slide (even though he mentioned it yesterday), sooooo….

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait about 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would typically open a thread (roughly noon, EST, back when such a thing was typical…!), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.


Correction, correction, correction!!

The bafflingly awesome TFIOS duct-tape wallet mentioned and photographed in Friday’s bar mitzvah report was not, it turns out, made by the boy’s delightful friend, but was rather selected by her and purchased on etsy. As an ex-boyfriend’s mother once said to me: “It’s a skill knowing where to shop, too” — and, I would argue, knowing how to select just the right gift for a friend.

If you, too, would like a TFIOS wallet made of duct-tape, here’s where you should go: The Fault in Our Stars inspired duct tape wallet.

I’m telling you, it’s awesome. I am very sorely tempted to steal it, but I think the boy might notice.

American and Israeli Jews – it’s weird.

My latest at Open Zion/The Daily Beast. Here’s the top – for the rest, click here! (But please note that Ron Kampeas of The Forward tweeted me the following: “From what I see on GPO email PM/Pres do meet and greets with olim from Ethiopia, etc.” I’m guessing that’s different from meeting them with song and dance at the airport, but honestly, I’m just guessing here).

Over the course of decades spent observing the relationship between Israeli and American Jews, I’ve come to an unavoidable, if hardly scientific, conclusion: It’s weird.

American Jews seem to encourage what amounts to a life-long crush on the State of Israel and its inhabitants, leading to such various reactions as: American rabbis giving their podiums to Israeli officials on the High Holidays, when we’re enjoined to concentrate not on things of this Earth but on malchut shamayim (the Kingdom of Heaven); a slew of folks deciding I must be ok, despite my left-wing opinions, because after all, my husband was born and raised in Jerusalem; and of course, cases of the collywobbles among American youth when Israelis happen to drift through the room.

What a lot of Americans might not realize is that the crush cuts both ways. Witness the reception recently received by 351 new immigrants:

Some 350 new immigrants from North America—including five sets of twins and two sets of triplets—were welcomed personally by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion Airport on [August 14]. “I’m proud of you,” the prime minister told the group. “We’re all proud of you. Friends of Israel, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, are all proud of you.”

The new arrivals on the special Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight were greeted with song, dance and a number of very short, but warm speeches by several dignitaries, including the prime minister and the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky.

Dude. Seriously? For 350 people (even if more than 5% of them were twins/triplets)? Last year, some 7,200 immigrants arrived from the former Soviet Union and more than 2,600 from Ethiopia—the Prime Minister might have greeted some of them at the airport, too, but I can’t find evidence of it.

Oh no! What happens next? More collywobbles? Well you’ll just have to click here to find out!

Open thread for a wandering Horde.

Not… sure…? if the boss is on the open thread tip today or not, since he’s around but hasn’t posted one. BUT – I’m about to run out the door, so here ye be! Just in case.

(And if you’re looking for an entirely over-long post on the bar mitzvah, just scroll down. It’s hard to miss).

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait about 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would typically open a thread (roughly noon, EST, back when such a thing was typical…!), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

The report.

The invitation.

So I don’t know if you heard, but we had a bar mitzvah around these parts.


From beginning to end, including even the bits that went slightly awry and/or agley, because of course, as we all know, the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, and the question is only how it’ll be handled, AND IT WAS ALL AWESOME.

And, yes, Timmy the ThinkGeek monkey actually attended.

Timmy wearing the kipa I fashioned out of the toe end of a sock, and finished with clear nail polish. I crafted! (PS – I turned his tshirt around, for a more formal look).

He was going to go in (and stay in!) my purse, but as I am a person with an uncontrollable anthropomorphization impulse, I worried about him. So I took him out and placed him on the girl’s seat — and as she is a nine year old person and an anthropomorphizer, she included him in everything! He sang, he bowed at all the right times, and at the very end, he was perched on the back of a pew — and the rabbi asked, with a smile in her voice, just before her final blessing: “Who’s guest is Jewish Curious George?”

The timeline (typed out mainly so that I can revisit the glow for a minute or two):

  1. Thursday morning, 8/16/12 – Attend morning prayers, boy reads from Torah and thus officially (and kind of nicely sneakily) becomes bar mitzvah while almost no one is watching. Official photographs taken.
  2. Thursday evening – Eleven Israeli relatives (the boy’s grandmother, uncles, aunts, and cousins) arrive, hang out, eat the first meal I’ve been able to prepare for all of them in my own home in 14 years, hang out some more.
  3. Friday during the day – The Israelis + the kids and the husband go downtown; I do final errands (one of which was to fix a thing gone agley – and it worked out!) and wind up writing (unplanned) for Open Zion (a post you should totally read, if only to marvel at the fact that on the literal eve of my son’s bar mitzvah, I managed to write).
  4. Friday evening – Friday night services at shul, during which the boy did us all proud, and after which: Big fancy family dinner out.
  5. Saturday morning and afternoon – THE MAIN EVENT. Services (two and a half hours long!) at shul, at which the boy absolutely wowed the crowd, both with his skills at prayer-leading-Torah-reading-Haftarah-chanting and his speech, and everything was warm and wonderful and I felt just bathed in love and joy. The very best moment (other than all the ones in which the boy was being The Best Thing Ever) was when a friend whispered “You all look so happy!” Then luncheon in the shul’s stained-glass-window-lined social hall (a luncheon I hear was good! I didn’t really taste any of it. Like you do), and I gave a speech which, though I cried through the whole thing, I kept breathing (no mean feat for me) and thus was able to say every single word (and apparently I made a bunch of other moms cry, too, so: Score!).
  6. Saturday evening: WhirlyBall! (And laser tag! And video games! And pizza! And cake!) ‘TWAS TEH AWESOME!!1!  Oh my goodness, those kids had so much fun, as did the handful of adults who tagged along and whooooooooo!!!
  7. Sunday: Brunch at Chicago’s premier spot for Swedish pancakes, Ann Sathers, followed by a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, and then a dinner of luncheon-left-overs at our house.
  8. MondayNothing (well, the four of us talked and giggled and took a walk and made S’mores in the backyard. But other than that).
  9. Tuesday: The Israelis + my three went museum-ing as I made faux-Thanksgiving, complete with roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish and cornbread (and pumpkin pie!), because I’ll never get to invite the Israelis to Thanksgiving! My family joined us, and everyone sat around and talked late into the evening and it was exactly as big family events should always be.
  10. Wednesday: First day of school. The Israelis came by in the afternoon for coffee and cake and goodbyes, and then went to the airport.
  11. Thursday: I made my usual bi-weekly Open Zion deadline. And collapsed on the couch.

Yes, really.

I would be remiss if I did not make a big point of pointing out that while I may have been In Charge of all of the above? The husband was an absolutely stellar First Officer, and aside from anything else, had he not kept washing all those dishes (and bear in mind that we keep kosher, so he was also switching from milk to meat and back again all the time) the entire jig would have been up.

After the jump, [UPDATE: figuring that most people who wanted to read this and see the pictures have done so, I’ve now removed the pictures after the jump, because kids’ faces can be seen in them (not all of them my own kids, even), and it honestly just makes me a little nervous to slap my kids’ faces up on the ‘net, given my day job] you’ll find the text of the boy’s speech (d’var Torah) – because he’s a mensch, and I’m just so proud – but first!

Pictures of the single best present the boy got (and which, btw, he presented to me as “the best gift I got”): A fully functional, The Fault in Our Stars-inspired wallet made out of duct-tape by one of his school friends (oops! Chosen by one of his school friends. Note correction, and how you can buy one for yourself [’cause you totes should] here).



TFIOS was written by John Green, author, Vlogbrother, host of Crash Course, and Nerdfighter extraordinaire, and the last line in the boy’s d’var Torah was a shout-out to Nerdfighters everywhere (and yes, in case you know what the hell I’m talking about and are wondering, he had his DFTBA bracelet on the whole time).


Dear hardcore In My Head heads….

…all you lovely people who have continued to check in with this blog despite the shameful lack of posting over the past two weeks: I will be back tomorrow. I promise.


Early open thread.

Boy things sure took a turn for the weird over at Ta-Nehisi’s place yesterday! I was only online for about 87 seconds, all day, but as I went about my business, I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in irritation and were suddenly silenced.

So I thought you might need an open thread already. Because it doesn’t really look like it’s fixed yet, does it? And if the boss shows up, all commenting engines firing – well, whatevs. I’m trying here, people!


Standard FYI clause: I generally wait about 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would typically open a thread (roughly noon, EST, back when such a thing was typical…!), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

My President is a feminist, part the several.

In case you were wondering:

President Obama strongly condemned Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) during a surprise press conference Monday for his remarks that “legitimate rape” doesn’t cause pregnancy. Obama said Akin’s statement was reflective of the broader Republican Party’s treatment of women.

“Let me first say the views expressed were offensive,” Obama said. “Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

…Obama, while acknowledging criticism of Akin from within the Republican Party, said that his remarks were indicative of the GOP’s anti-abortion record. He pointedly referenced a House Republican bill co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan that distinguished “forcible rape” in banning funding for abortion, language that was subsequently withdrawn after an outcry from women’s advocacy groups.

“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women,” Obama said. “So although these particular comments have led Gov. Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think that the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women … or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape are broader issues.”

FYI, and so on.

Via TPM and @MichelleObama.

Oops! I wrote a bunch of stuff.

I forgot to post any of the following! Here are my latest Open Zion/The Daily Beast pieces:

  1. An Equal-Opportunity Curse (August 10, 2012)
    In the wake of the failed Geneva Peace Conference of 1973, Abba Eban famously observed that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” It’s a line beloved by those who say neither the Palestinian people nor the Arab nations are partners for peace. But I have to wonder what Eban would think of Israel’s own failure to grasp the opportunities presented by none other than the Arab League.[On Aug 9], Ha’aretz reported that in 2007 “Ehud Olmert rejected an invitation by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and other Arab leaders to address an Arab League convention and set in motion a regional process based on the Saudi peace initiative….When I look back on the decade since the offer was first made, and the five years since Olmert almost took a chance, I’m frankly moved to tears. The rivers of blood, the mourning families, the entrenchment of Hamas, and the overwhelming helplessness now felt by so many in the region—could it all have been avoided?

    We’ll never know. We can only know that missing opportunities is an equal-opportunity curse.

  2. On Laws and Walls (August 14, 2012)
    This past week, Israel’s Justice Ministry issued new regulations that, if implemented, will make it impossible for many Palestinians and all undocumented immigrants to file suit in Israeli courts.

    What looks like mere bureaucracy would in fact serve to close Israel’s justice system to the people most vulnerable to injustice: Migrants fleeing hunger and oppressive political regimes, and Palestinians who are stateless and (often) paper-less—the latter usually a result of some other Israeli regulation or bureaucratic machination, such as the thousands of Gazan and West Bank Palestinians who happened to not be in Gaza or the West Bank on the day that Israel conducted its first census of the territories, or the quarter of a million Palestinians who had their West Bank or Gazan residency covertly revoked by Israel between 1967 and 1994.

    The new regulations are, then, “new” in word only, not in spirit. The endemic violence and bloodshed get a lot more attention, but the truth is that bureaucracy has long been Israel’s favorite tool of control.

  3. How Will We Sleep Tonight? (August 17, 2012)
    As a writer and activist, I’m forever asking people to consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from another perspective—whatever perspective they might happen to have.

    And so today I ask: What would Israel, the Israeli people, and American Jews be doing if the following news reports concerned an Israeli family and three Israeli young men?…

To read the thrilling conclusion of any and all of the above, please click on the links embedded in the headlines.

Open thread, because I’d never forget you. Except for yesterday. When I forgot you.

I didn’t really forget you, per se. I just didn’t remember to act my knowledge of you in a timely manner. Forgive me, Horde (and thank you ani for catching us!).

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait about 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would typically open a thread (roughly noon, EST, back when such a thing was typical…!), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.