Posts Tagged ‘Jews’

South Park Sacrifices the Red Heifer

November 10, 2013

This post first appeared in The Times of Israel.

Ginger-Cow

Cartman and Kyle make a trip to Jerusalem in last week’s episode of South Park, the longstanding animated series on the Comedy Central network known for its crude language, surreal comedy and social commentary.

Why do the boys leave snowy Colorado and show up in the Holy City on a stage in front of thousands of Jews, Christians and Muslims? Well, it’s kind of a weird story.

Cartman pulls a prank on Kyle (who is Jewish) by dressing up a cow with a curly red wig and painting red polka dots on it. He manages to convince some of the kids at South Park Elementary that cows, like people, can be ginger. Kyle doesn’t fall for it, and admonishes Cartman, “Even the dumbest lie can have big consequences.”

Of course, the devious and manipulative Cartman brushes off the warning. But before long, a trio of Haredi Jews from Jerusalem show up in the principal’s office urgently asking to see the red heifer — the extremely rare animal that was used in Temple times for a purification ritual, and which is also associated with a prophecy about the end of days. “The fate of the world is at stake!” they tell Kyle.

Click here to read more and watch the episode.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand.  All rights reserved.

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Coexistence on the Court

August 20, 2013

This article was first published as “Israeli Arab tennis champs bring sport and coexistence to Jewish summer camp” in Haaretz.

Fahoum Fahoum teaches tennis at Camp Ramah in Canada. (Courtesy)

Fahoum Fahoum teaches tennis at Camp Ramah in Canada. (Courtesy)

As the summer winds down, kids are coming home from American Jewish sleepaway camp and telling their parents all the new things they’ve done. Some will report finally having swum in the deep end of the pool, others that they read Torah or led prayers for the first time. For children who attended some of the Ramah camps, the list also includes their first-ever meeting with an Israeli Arab.

The Palestinian citizen of Israel they met was either Nadine Fahoum, or her brother Fahoum Fahoum. Both are top-level tennis players who have represented Israel internationally and played Division I tennis in the United States.

Ramah, the camping arm of the Conservative Movement, has invited Nadine and Fahoum to teach the sport at its camps in New England, the Berkshires and Canada for the past two summers.

“It was about my teaching tennis, but it was more importantly about exposing the kids to all of Israel,” said 22-year-old Fahoum, who spent a week at one camp north of Toronto and two days at another in Palmer, Massachusetts. “Having me there helps them complete the picture.”

“Some kids didn’t even know there were non-Jews in Israel,” noted Nadine, 23, who spent a week in Wingdale, New York.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Pogroms On Jews Linked To Cold Snaps

March 10, 2013

This post first appeared in The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of ducks on an icy lake (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Illustrative photo of ducks on an icy lake (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Historically speaking, when Jews talked about the weather, it wasn’t just idle chatter.

These days, everyone is worried about the effects of global warming. However, a new study indicates that the Jews have been dealing with the negative repercussions of climate change for centuries already. But rather than rising temperatures being the problem, Jews’ woes occurred when the mercury started to drop.

The Jewish communities of Europe, whose persecutions in the medieval and early modern periods are well-documented, provided the data necessary for economics professors Warren Anderson of the University of Michigan and Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama of George Mason University, who sought to determine when exactly medieval Europe transitioned into the protective, religiously tolerant region of the post-industrial era.

In their paper “From the persecuting to the protective state? Jewish expulsions and weather shocks from 1100 to 1800,” the researchers explain that historical Jewish expulsions were associated with colder temperatures during the growing season, typically April through September.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.