Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Jew & A – DuJane Special

Filed under : Jew & A,Judaism
On July 20, 2006
At 3:37 pm
Comments : 20

And so, as promised, here’s Jew & A, with all questions courtesy of DuJane. What I love about DuJane’s questions is that they’re so long that they make up half the post. It’s kind of like she inveigled herself a spot as Guest Blogger without me actually being on vacation.

Without further ado, except my standard explanation that these opinions are strictly my own and don’t represent any other Jews, goyim, Martians, or other form of life, here we go.

1. I was watching Sarah Silverman’s “Jesus is Magic” and she had a lot of commentary about Jewish people that buy German cars, especially those that were commissioned by Hitler. She even had a song about it. What do you think about this?

I don’t know. Was the song good?

Well, I have friends in Germany and I have visited and had a delightful time. That is to say, the Germans of today are no more responsible for what happened during the Holocaust than I am for slavery in this country. As a matter of fact, they are more acutely aware of anti-Semitism and right-wing racism than almost any people I’ve ever encountered.

But, for me personally, I feel uncomfortable when I ride in a friend’s Volkswagen and I certainly wouldn’t buy one. And not just because the mini-Cooper is the only car I could ever own. Volkswagen is quite symbolic, to me, of Hitler’s ideas. It’s a bit too much for me.

2. On Sex and the City, Charlotte converted in order to marry Harry. I always wondered if “real” Jews would take that kind of woman seriously. Are converts like the nouveau riche to the people who are born into Judaism? And would it be different if a person chose to convert for their own reasons instead of so obviously doing it to marry a person of the faith? Do you think Harry wasn’t a “good” Jew for dating her in the first place – I mean, really, it was such a date-this-type but marry-this-type situation that I don’t think he was fair to her and yes I watch too much SATC and this question has turned into a statement but I’m going to use a question mark anyway? And do they really refuse a person three times?

I don’t claim to represent all Jews. But as far as I’ve seen, converts are as accepted as any other Jews and are treated no differently. I do think that people who convert just for their spouse are often not as committed as those who find it on their own. But I need to clarify that. Some people just pay lip-service to it. Others, through their loved one, discover the religion and the culture and embrace it totally. Charlotte was in the latter group and so I thought that was lovely. We can see that from the fact that even during the period when she lost Harry, she still stayed the course with Judaism.

And maybe it was always in Harry’s mind that she might convert. That is to say, I saw those episodes a really long time ago and don’t totally remember that part. But we already knew he had problems because he was a Mets fan.

Yes, they refuse a person three times. We play hard to get. You have to really want it.

3. My ex-boyfriend was a Jehovah’s Witness who couldn’t salute a flag or say the pledge because it meant he was worshipping a false god. My new (hot) boyfriend is a retired military man that would spank me if I didn’t show the proper respect for a national anthem or flag presentation. I hate the “under god” part of the pledge and my Christian-right-wing family thinks that any question of removing “under god” is a direct attack on Jesus. So where do Jews stand on the flag, anthems, and pledging allegiance?

We love America! It’s been really good to us. I was always taught that July 4th and Thanksgiving were really important to celebrate because America was the land where Jews had found such incredible freedom. I went to Jewish schools and the pledge of allegiance was said every morning.

It is a Jewish custom to follow the laws of the country in which you reside and to pray for the government of that country. In Jeremiah it says: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have caused you to be exiled, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its prosperity you shall prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).

I’m not sure how we got from your hot boyfriend spanking you to Jeremiah, but that’s the Joy of Jewball.

As for “under God,” well, I don’t like religion being injected into secular things. Sure, I believe we’re under God, but I don’t need to hear it in a pledge. And what’s next? Under Jesus? That wouldn’t be something I believed. So let’s keep the whole thing out, shall we?

4. When I was a Christian, there were so many instances where I disagreed with the “official” church stance on the issue, but still considered myself a Christian despite that differing personal viewpoint. Are there any issues where you strongly disagree with the official position of your faith?

I just have to say, the phrase “when I was a Christian” is really disconcerting to me, because there’s no instance of saying “when I was a Jew.” I think that’s because Christianity is a faith, but Judaism is both a faith and a people.

First off, there is no official position of my faith, really, but since I’ve peeked down below, I know that’s your next question and I won’t explain further. Patience!

It’s a common Jewish practice to believe that anyone who does less than you is doing the wrong thing and those who do more are insane. I follow this tradition closely. So, let me take this occasion to criticize those to the right of me, why not? There’s a tradition amongst married Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women to cover their hair when seeing men other than their husbands. I have to respect anyone’s right to do anything they like but I find the idea that men can’t control themselves when looking at a woman’s hair and that women should thus wear a hat or wig at all times both ridiculous and unbelievably sexist. But this is why I don’t let most of my relatives read my blog. That and the fact that I swear. So let’s keep all that between you and I, wink wink.

5. Does Judaism even have a governing body and “official” opinions? I know Lutherans have a big panel of people that vote and issue declarations and whatnot, and Catholics have the Pope and his people. What do you have?

Depends on the denomination. On the left, Reform Jews have the Union for Reform Judaism which hammers out their ideology and rules. In the middle, Conservative Judaism has an organization called United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which does pretty much the same thing. I have a personal connection to that organization and their rules but perhaps that’s best left to e-mail (that was for DuJane; what, were the rest of you reading too?). As I mentioned in an earlier post. I grew up within this movement. Don’t make me find the post. The search box isn’t just there for decoration, you know.

With the Orthodox, there are fewer “official” positions. If you are Hassidic, your Rebbe makes all your decisions. If you’ve seen the Movementarian episode of the Simpsons, you have some idea of what I mean. With anyone else, you either learn the laws for yourself or ask a learned person you trust (often your Rabbi) what the law is. Different Rabbis have different opinions as to interpretation of the law. The key is to stick with one person to answer your questions and not pick and choose answers you like from different ones.

Thanks for all the fine questions, DuJane! And next time, I’ll give some of my other fun readers a chance.

Tori Amos – God


Everything is fine and good

Filed under : Life in general
On July 19, 2006
At 10:32 am
Comments : 10

Hm, who was that angry person posting yesterday? I think someone broke into my server. But anyway, I feel quite validated by the article in today’s NY Times, Travelers Swelter Amid Power Failures and Transit Shutdowns. And my line was the worst!

But this all enables me to share this conversation I had yesterday with a co-worker who is also a dear friend of mine. I was in his office and it went something like this.

Him: Oh, man. Did you get stuck on the train today?
Me: Yes! No, wait, I’m not going to tell you, just read my blog, you’ll know everything.
Him: I forgot the address.
Me: It’s OK, it moved.
(I type it into his browser)
Him: Hey! It’s like a real website.

Great. That will be my new tagline, I think. “Magic Jewball: Now like a real website.” But it went on.

Me: It IS a real website. I’m a real person. I had a real designer. It’s on the real Internet.
Him: Cool. I’ll read it later.

Now, if you have ever heard a person say to you at the end of a date, “I’ll call you,” then you will know that he will never, ever read this blog. So this is a bit like a test, I suppose. If I get an indignant, “Hey! That was me you were talking about, wasn’t it?” I’ll know he actually read it. If not, well, I’ll know I was right, which is probably just as good. Either way, I have readers in Egypt now! I don’t need someone in the office one floor up.

But in case you couldn’t sleep last night, wondering if my day got better, it did! I slipped into the refrigerator that is my office, the trains were running by the time I went home, the situation I was angry about before the subway enraged me got resolved, and the Yankees won at 1 in the morning. So now I no longer feel pissed off enough to add a pissed off song.

Instead, I’ll go with this sarcastic number from which the title derives. It’s by one of my favorite bands who should have been big but weren’t.

Local H – Fine And Good

And in case my friendly co-worker is reading this, I must give him props for introducing me to many of my favorite bands. The way it works is, he’ll lend me a CD he thinks I will like, I let it sit on my desk for four months, I listen to it one day when I’m bored, I fall in love with it, I tell him, and he says, “you could have been listening to that for four months, you know.” I know, I know. Amongst these bands are The Walkmen, The Vines, Spoon, The Editors, VHS Or Beta, and many more. This one’s for you, Mr. DJ.

The Vines – Get Free


Subway McRantRant

Filed under : New York City,Rants
On July 18, 2006
At 12:21 pm
Comments : 15

I know I said the next post would be Jew & A, but I lied. I’m just a big liar. You caught me. I’m so ashamed.

Anyway, this morning, the subway train I was riding stopped moving for no apparent reason. Finally, they announced that there was a train ahead of us and we’d be moving shortly. Speaking of liars, I had been waiting 10 minutes for this particular train I was on and so I can reveal to you that THERE WAS NO TRAIN AHEAD OF US.

As if this lie wasn’t baldfaced enough, I could dimly hear an announcement on the platform that the entire line was out of service due some problem having to do with the heat. (It’s a furnace here right now, as if to show us liars what Hell is like, that is, if I believed in Hell). Now, I was angry this morning to begin with (just one of those angry days) but by the time I walked a mile to work in the blazing heat, I was enraged.

Were there no heatwaves in 1904 when they built this thing? How can iron rails not withstand 100 degree heat? Why do tourists not cross on red lights? Why did that taxi feel the need to come thisclose to running over my foot? Why must Starbucks blast air conditioned coffee aroma at me while I’m trying to get to work and only be an hour late? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS CITY?

I’ll add a song later when I’m good and ready and you’ll like it, damn it!


Bizarro photos of New York

Filed under : New York City
On July 16, 2006
At 9:27 pm
Comments : 19

Every now and then I’ll take a photo because I’m so baffled by a situation that I need your help in making sense of it. I can’t do it on my own, people! So here are three recent ones, all collected together for your amusement. As always, click to enlarge.

This was an …I don’t know….sculpture in front of Lincoln Center. I guess it’s attractive in its own way. But a dazzling array of canoes doesn’t usually strike me as art. But what do I know? Not much, and if you’d been reading this blog for a while you’d surely know that.

As you may have already noticed, I occasionally spot things atop tall buildings. I’m usually looking for Superman, but every now and then I’ll see something strange. I mean, sure, we all walk around with mega-zoom cameras. How else to explain why you’d fly five flags from a crane no one can see with the naked eye?

Here’s something fun. A lady just setting up in the middle of my block (and I live on a quiet side street) in front of a pile of trash with a harp and commencing to play. Later on, she was gone, but I did spot a young woman inspecting that shelving unit. She didn’t take it, I have no idea why. I mean, it looks so fresh and so clean.

Yeah, I just live here, I can’t explain all the crazy people. Anyway, did you want to see some really lovely pictures of nature? The kind they only have on the Left Coast? My friend, Lisa, (not World Cup Lisa – I have a lot of Lisas in my life) is a brilliant photographer and here’s her site. If nothing else, it will keep you from having to actually go to California. Lisa doesn’t know I’m linking to her here, so let’s surprise her and all go over there!

Next post will be another edition of Jew & A but unless your question just can’t wait, don’t bother sending it in. DuJane already sent in five.

Shiny Toy Guns – Photograph

Outkast – So Fresh, So Clean


Magic Jewball, sporting fool

Filed under : Sports
On July 14, 2006
At 11:55 am
Comments : 19

I rarely eat my blogwords, but I have to admit that I did get into the whole World Cup hoopla towards the end. It sucked me in slowly slowly. Here’s my problem. Even with a sporting event I care nothing about, I can’t help picking favorites. Then my favorites lose and I feel depressed about it even though I never watched a single game. I started with the US (I do live here, no matter how pathetic they are). That lasted for the two days they were actually in the tournament. I then moved onto Ghana which has some players who play in Israel normally. So I had to go for them. Yes, another crushing defeat. Then I had Argentina. That was for David Nalbandian. When he’s happy I’m happy. I don’t need to tell you how that ended. Finally, I had France. Enough said.

I never did get what’s so beautiful about the game. I will say that even though there are fewer goals than those “Macarena” guys had hits, there are more near misses than you’d think. Plus, I spent the last two games in downtown bars with my friend Lisa, who’d recently returned from a French vacation and would have taken home the whole country in her suitcase if she could have. So she was quite enthusiastic. And the bar experience was really cool. The first one we went to, versus Portugal, was more like a library than a bar. I have never heard such silence in a bar in my life. Everybody had the intensity of combat fighters in that place. But it was fun and the scene in the street was brilliant, unless you were Portuguese. But I’ve never seen a Portuguese person in NYC and I didn’t really see any here either.

The atmosphere at the final was a little different what with Italians outnumbering French people in the New York area 13 to 1. Lisa, her family, and I were in the distinct minority. I won’t give away the ending in case you haven’t gotten around to watching it on your Tivo, but suffice to say, we kind of felt like we’d been headbutted in the sternum. I did see those same guys from this picture, and the Italian girl who’d been sitting in front of us yelled “losers!” at them. Nice.

I should also say that I began that day by waking up at 9am to watch the Wimbledon final (my guy, Nadal, lost) and then later went home to watch the replay of the Yankee game (they lost too).

So, should you be an athlete and wish to buy me off so I won’t support you, please e-mail me with your bids. I am, as always, for sale.

Beck – Loser