The Link Sink

kitchen sink

I know you’re supposed to clean house before Passover, but here are some interesting links that have piled up in the last week or two:

  • Tamara Podemski is an unknown in the U.S. but she’s starred on a handful of Canadian TV shows and recorded three albums. Her father is Israeli and her mother is Ojibwa (a native Canadian tribe). She proudly refers to herself as a “fully functional half-breed,” and appears to take great pride in her mixed heritage–which, incidentally, produced a gorgeous woman. For more on here, read this profile in the Canadian Jewish News.
  • An educational publisher agreed to withdraw and destroy the remaining copies of a reference book on Israel after a major Orthodox organization objected to the book’s characterization of Orthodox Jews, according to The (New York) Jewish Week. Agudath Israel of America was upset over a passage in the book that said that “some ultra-Orthodox Jews” want to limit Israel’s Law of Return to exclude Reform and Conservative Jews because “they are not really at all because they are not strict in their observance of all the religious laws.” There’s no question the passage is wrong, but it contains a kernel of truth. It is not uncommon for ultra-Orthodox Jews to ridicule and denigrate more progressive streams of Judaism, especially Reform, because they doesn’t fit their strict definitions of what Judaism is. It also taps into the larger issue over conversions and the fact that Israel’s acceptance of converted Jews is hamstrung by bureaucracy, corruption and political subservience to the Orthodox.
  • Building Jewish Bridges, one of the country’s best outreach programs, located in San Francisco’s East Bay, recently started a blog. Keep up the good work.
  • After they vigorously clean their house of all chametz–non-kosher-for-Passover food, meaning bread, pasta and the like–traditional households “sell” their chametz to a non-Jew and then buy it back after Passover is over. The tradition requires that the buyer be a non-Jew. The Jerusalem Post has an interesting article about the issue, and what happens if you sell your hametz to a non-Jew who is actually Jewish by traditional definitions? The article notes that it is preferable to sell hametz to Arabs in Israel because there has been so little Arab-Jewish intermarriage that one can feel quite secure that the buyer is not “actually” Jewish. It’s not remotely the writer’s intent, but I found that the piece highlights the silliness of basing Jewish definition on descent rather than practice or self-identification. Under traditional rules, it would be OK to sell hametz to a committed Reform Jew whose mother wasn’t Jewish but not OK to sell it to an evangelical Christian whose mother’s maternal grandmother was Jewish! Oy.

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