Jewish Women Watching sends out fake JTS press release

Conservative Movement Angrily Disavows Message of Equity and Non-Discrimination

New York, NY (March 30, 2005) – Jewish Women Watching (JWW), the anonymous collective of feminist rabble rousers, has claimed responsibility for infiltrating last night’s Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) event celebrating twenty years of women as Conservative Jewish rabbis.

Unsuspecting attendees at a public panel discussion entitled “A Movement Transformed: Women’s Ordination and Conservative Judaism” enthusiastically greeted a press advisory announcing JTS’s plan to accomplish gender and sexual equity in the Conservative Movement by the year 2010. The press advisory was a fake created by Jewish Women Watching.

“JTS has been talking for so long about their intention to fully incorporate women in the rabbinate, we thought they might just need some creative thinkers to figure out a plan to make it happen,” said JWW’s Adah Menken. The three-step plan detailed in the press advisory committed the Conservative Movement to ending exclusion of gays and lesbians from the rabbinate, closing the $10,000+ pay gap between male and female rabbis, and dismissing non-egalitarian synagogues from its roster. “If JTS had wanted to claim the plan and commit to the actions outlined in it, JWW would have been happy to step back and let them take the credit,” said Clara Lemlich, a JWW member.

In reality, the panel’s moderator dissociated JTS from any proposal to comprehensively embrace egalitarianism and equity. “The Conservative Movement has a lot of chutzpah to celebrate 20 years of women’s ordination when they continue blatantly sexist and homophobic practices in the rabbinate,” said JWW’s Sophie Tucker. “It’s time for JTS to match action to their rhetoric.”

View the fake press advisory and JWW’s candid assessment of the Conservative Movement’s rhetoric.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Natalie Portman Makes Huge Gift to Hadassah!

Jewish Actress Helps Expand Trauma Unit For Jerusalem Hospital

Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital received a $50 million donation last week from one of the people born there – famed Jewish actress Natalie Portman.

Portman’s donation is earmarked for an improved and expanded emergency trauma center being funded by the Hadassah Women’s Zionist movement. The expansion will enable three times as many victims to be treated at once.

At a ceremony Thursday evening at the Jerusalem Theater, Dr. Kobi Assaf, Hadassah Hospitals’ director of surgery and shock trauma said the expansion of the trauma center will save many lives. “One of the most crucial things we can do for trauma patients is treat them quickly,” he said. “The new unit is arranged specifically to do that – everything we need to treat them is right here.”

The old center could handle 23,000 admissions a year, but demand rose to 73,000 due to Arab terrorism as well as an increase in car accidents.

23-year-old Portman, whose family name is Hershlag, was born in Israel, and her father worked as a doctor in Jerusalem. She spent last summer studying Jewish History at the Hebrew University.

While studying at Harvard University, Portman wrote an open letter defending Israeli security policies after a pro-PLO student attacked Israel in the campus newpaper. She also frequently paid visits to Israeli victims of terrorism in hospitals during the course of the Oslo War.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Say What?!?

From the NY Times
March 28, 2005

A Dutch Soccer Riddle: Jewish Regalia Without Jews

AMSTERDAM – Just minutes before a high-stakes soccer game not long ago between this city’s home team, Ajax, and their rivals from the southern city of Eindhoven, a chant built to a roar in the hall packed with supporters where they were serving plastic pint cups of Dutch beer.

“Jews, Jews, Jews!” thousands of voices cried.

Outside, souvenir stalls sold Israeli flags or flags with the Ajax logo, the head of the fabled Greek warrior, emblazoned inside the star of David. Fans arrived with hats, jackets and scarves embroidered with Hebrew writing. Until recently, the team’s official Web site even featured the ringing tones of Hava Nagila and other Jewish songs that could be downloaded into fans’ mobile phones.

Few, if any, of these people are Jewish.

“About thirty years ago, the other teams’ supporters started calling us Jews because there was a history of Jews in Ajax,” explained Fred Harris, a stocky man with brush-cut hair and a thick gold chain around his neck, “so we took it up as a point of pride and now it has become our identity.”

For years, the team’s management supported that unique identity. But over time what seemed to many people like a harmless – if peculiar – custom has taken on a more sinister tone. Fans of Ajax’s biggest rivals began giving the Nazis’ signature straight-arm salute or chanting “Hamas, Hamas!” to provoke Ajax supporters. Ajax games have been marred by shouts of “Jews to the gas!” or simply hissing to simulate the sound of gas escaping.

The most disturbing displays have come during games against teams from The Hague or Amsterdam’s greatest rival, Rotterdam. But even Eindhoven fans get into the act: not long after the game started, a chant arose from the corner section of the city’s stadium reserved for fans of the opposing team.

“Everyone who’s not jumping is a Jew!” the crowd cried over and over again as thousands of people in the section jumped up and down.

Ajax games have become so charged with such anti-Semitic displays that many of the team’s Jewish fans now avoid the games altogether. The offensive behavior is not one-sided: during a game against a German team late last year, a group of Ajax supporters displayed a banner that read “Jews take revenge for ’40-’45,” a reference to the Holocaust. [more…]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Remedy at Israel Bar Night

Rap star Remedy Ross performed at Israel Bar Night last night. The event was sponsored by AMI (American Movement for Israel). Remedy’s song Never Again about the Shoah appeared on a Wu Tang Clan album back in 1998.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Sklar Brothers Rock Michigan’s Campus

Jason & Randy Sklar of ESPN’s Cheap Seats performed tonight at the Power Center on University of Michigan’s campus. The event was sponsored by Michigan Hillel, Big Ticket Productions, and the Mel Gibson Foundation for the Anti-Semitic Arts through Religious Film Production. The Sklar Brothers were hillarious. They are clearly the only stand-up comedians currently using the term “eiruv” in their routine.

It’s very possible that prior to the Sklar Brothers taking the stage at the Power Center tonight, I was the last Conservative Jew to perform at the venue (Yom Kippur 2004).

Close to 400 people were in attendance including members of the high school senior class from Nosh ‘n’ Drash at Adat Shalom Synagogue led by Warren Frankford (1); Hillel student leaders Perry Teicher, Monica Woll, Dina Pittel, Michelle Gorman & Sarah Kirschenbaum (2); Dr. David & Rebecca Salama (3); Jordan Sherman & Matt Orley from ZBT (4); and, my brother Jake & his posse (5).

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

From the website

University of Michigan Student Government Votes against Divestment in Israel
March 21, 2005

The Michigan Student Assembly (MSA), the student government at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, soundly defeated a proposal last week that would have created a committee to examine university investments in companies that do business with Israel. The 25-11 vote against divestment was heralded as a huge success for the pro-Israel community on campus.

“This is all about the students – they rose to the occasion,” said University of Michigan Hillel Assistant Director Rabbi Jason Miller. “They are so proud of themselves, and we couldn’t be prouder of them.”

“It was really nice to see that student activism exists on campus and people really care,” said Perry Teicher, a member of both University of Michigan Hillel’s governing board and the MSA. “It was incredible how many Jewish and non-Jewish supporters came to the meeting.”

The MSA meeting on Tuesday, March 15 had already been moved to a larger room due to an estimated high attendance, according to Miller, but when it quickly became apparent that the crowd far exceeded the room’s 150-person capacity, the meeting was moved to a ballroom where, ironically, a [former] white supremacist had spoken earlier in the evening [at an event sponsored by Hillel’s Conference on the Holocaust].

Speakers both for and against the resolution voiced their opinions during the meeting, which lasted into the early hours of Wednesday morning. The resolution attacked the Israeli military’s practices toward the Palestinians as “reprehensible” and “unjustifiable” in 14 paragraphs leading up to its conclusion, which “put the verdict before the trial,” according to MSA President Jason Mironov.

“That’s not how we do things in the MSA, and that’s not how we do things in America,” Mironov said.

Even with a motion to strike 11 of the 14 clauses from the resolution, which would have eliminated any direct condemnation of Israel, the measure still failed. Hillel student leaders credit the large contingent of Jewish students – including Jewish members of the Greek system, birthright israel participants and activists in the campus pro-Israel group American Movement for Israel – who attended the meeting to demonstrate their opposition to the resolution for ensuring the victory.

“These people, who largely wouldn’t show up to a Jewish event even if you paid them, showed up in blue and white. It was incredible,” said Monica Woll, chair of University of Michigan Hillel’s governing board.

“Members of the Jewish community should be commended for their articulate speech and their respect for the issue and the people involved,” added Mironov, who made the unusual move of coming out against the resolution before the vote.

A Tuesday morning article in the Michigan Daily, the campus student newspaper, that predicted the resolution had a “reasonable” chance of passing also boosted attendance at the meeting, Miller said.

“It was a thinly veiled attempt at vilifying Israel, and it’s especially sensitive to me, as it attacked my own people and a country I believe has a very strong right to exist,” said Mironov, who is also active in Hillel and chair of its Half-Shekel Campaign.

Though excited about the vote’s outcome, Jewish student leaders know their work is far from over. Dialogue with those who supported the resolution is an essential part of creating a welcoming environment for all students on campus, Woll said.

“There needs to be a system of education and a place where groups can talk and see where the other side is coming from,” Woll added.

Both Mironov and Teicher said they felt comfortable with their dual leadership roles in Hillel and the MSA.

“Being president of MSA is my responsibility. Representing the Jewish community is my duty,” Mironov said. “I was elected partially because of my commitment to the campus community and partially because of my beliefs.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Daily Show video clips

See the best clips of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) at this site:

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Dan Ahdoot

Comedian Dan Ahdoot performed tonight at the Michigan Union for Hillel students. Dan was a finalist on Last Comic Standing and he also writes for Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Camera article on divestment vote

Students Mobilize to Defeat Anti-Israel Resolution at University of Michigan

On March 15th, the University of Michigan Student Assembly soundly voted down (25-11) a proposal to create a committee to investigate the university’s investments in companies doing business with Israel. Kudos go to Alana Kuhn and Jessie Risch, co-chairs of the American Movement for Israel, as well as UM Hillel student Governing Board President Monica Woll, Governing Board rep Michelle Gorman and Andrew Yahkind, who mobilized the campus to stand with Israel and against the unfair, inaccurate misinformation being disseminated by the anti-Israel activists.

The 7:30pm meeting had to be moved twice to accommodate the crowd of students who wanted to show support for their side. They finally ended up filling the 500 seat ballroom, with many students standing in the back and aisles as well. The meeting lasted until 1am with students from both sides taking turns to passionately voice their opinions.

According to Alexis Frankel, program director for the Univ. of Michigan Hillel, the student daily paper, The Michigan Daily, may have inadvertently motivated increased attendance by pro-Israel students by predicting in a large front page article the day of the vote that the anti-Israel proposal would likely pass. Students who normally don’t get involved in such issues were so concerned to read of the “likely” success of the proposal that they showed up in huge numbers, demonstrating their pro-Israel support by wearing blue sticky tape all over their shirts and pants, on their foreheads or as armbands. Many students also sported blue streamers in their hair and T-shirts made by the American Movement for Israel (AMI) that said, “It’s not JUST a committee.”

Frankel noted, “The shirts made by AMI were homemade and spray painted with the slogan in blue….it had a great grassroots look which really strengthened the visual impact of their message.” The pro-resolution supporters wore black shirts with the Palestinian flag that said: “Divest from Israeli Apartheid.”

According to Frankel, “The Israeli Student Organization was also present and one of their members, Arik Cheshin, who served in the territories with the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), spoke passionately to the assembly about Israelis’ commitment to peace and about the one-sided wording of the resolution that neither placed accusations of human rights abuses in their proper context (such as the reason roadblocks are erected in the first place), nor made any mention of the vast suffering inflicted on Israeli civilians by Palestinian groups.”

UM Hillel is the umbrella group for over 33 Jewish student groups on the University of Michigan campus, including AMI and the Israeli Student Organization. Hillel staff offered logistical and moral support to the students throughout their organizing efforts. “While we were there to offer students support in whatever capacity they needed, it was the students themselves who took the initiative and lead in organizing this tremendous response. It was very empowering for them and inspiring for us as staff to witness” said Frankel.

Frankel commented that the successful defeat of the anti-Israel proposal was also greatly aided by the fact that many of the student representatives in the assembly came to the debate already well informed about Israel, and so were not easily swayed by inaccurate, misleading anti-Israel propaganda. Student body president Jason Mironov spoke eloquently against the resolution and MSA rep. Stu Wagner was also key in organizing opposition to the resolution. This underscores the importance of pro-Israel activists getting involved in student government so that fair, informed people are in positions of power to vote on important issues.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Are there 12 or 13?

12 people turn into 13 people!

Count the people, wait until they shift, and then count them again.

Hmmm… I wonder if this trick would work when we only have 9 for a minyan?

Send this to someone else

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |