In the Spirit of This Time of Year… Something Jewish…

userpic=levysIn the spirit of this time of year, here is the present of some News Chum that has been accumulating the last two weeks. In the spirit of religion of the source of the upcoming holiday, it’s also Jewish. What? You thought Jesus was Christian? Nope. The religion was created by his followers. Let’s dig in:

  • Let’s Go Shopping. A little late, but the news brings the report of the death of Lillian Vernon, Catalog Queen. Lillian Vernon (born Lilian Menasche) was the daughter of Jewish Germans who fled to Amsterdam during the rise of the Nazis in 1933, immigrated to New York in 1937. She attended NYU, but left after two years to marry the owner of a dry goods story in Mount Vernon, NY. With $2000 of their wedding money, Vernon, who was also pregnant, decided to start “a mail-order business on her yellow Formica kitchen table,” reported The New York Times. “With the help of her father, who by then was in the leather goods business, she advertised a personalized leather handbag for $2.99 plus tax—and a matching belt for $1.99—in the September issue of Seventeen magazine. The ad generated $32,000 in orders, and the Lillian Vernon brand was born.”
  • Interfaith Cooperation. Thus reporteth NPR: A mosque, a church and a synagogue go up on the site of an old Jewish country club …It sounds like the setup to a joke — but it’s not. It’s actually happening in Omaha, Neb. The Tri-Faith Initiative may be the first place in history where these three monotheistic faiths have built together, on purpose, with the intention of working together.
  • And On The Other Side… The Jewish Journal is reporting: The Jews for Jesus organization has denounced the Vatican for saying the Catholic Church must not try to convert Jews to Christianity. David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, said in a statement that his organization finds the position “… egregious, especially coming from an institution which seeks to represent a significant number of Christians in the world.” Translation: Jews for Jesus is a group whose specific aim is to pull people away from Judaism, so that they can be saved in Christ. Why is it wrong when Islam does it, but right for Christianity?
  • Jewish Fusion Cuisine. Quoth Haaretz: In Los Angeles, we’re seeing dishes like pastrami quesadillas at fast food Mexican spot J&S.  In Seattle, a food truck called Napkin Friends serves “latke press sandwiches” in decidedly non-kosher varieties like a BLT. In New York and San Francisco, you can order Kung Pao Pastrami at Mission Chinese Food. And El Nosh, a Puerto Rican-Jewish food mash-up that started as a food truck in California, threw a pop-up event in New York as recently as October.
  • Resurgent Yiddish. Earlier in the week, I wrote about my daughter and her work with Yiddish. That article mentioned her trip to Eastern Europe last summer with Helix. It is also impacting the stage, notably the new production of Fiddler on the Roof:
    Adam Kantor, the first in the procession of suitors for Tevye’s daughters, said the research he did last summer visiting where his ancestors are from and where the Tevye stories were written (“I, basically, found Anatevka”) empowered him for the moment when Motel the timid tailor becomes a man and asks for the hand of Tzeitel (the wonderful Alexandra Silber). “Feeling the landscape and learning about the culture of the shtetl and learning about my roots strengthened my performance, I believe. I come from a line of Jewish immigrants who had to fight for their lives to make something of themselves. I just drew from them and what they went through.”