Themed News Chum: Jews in the News

Today’s lunchtime news chum should be chewed slowly while you sit in your sukkah, outside…:

  • Madonna and Crew. The LA Times has an interesting two part series (part 1, part 2) on the quasi-cult that is the Kaballah Center. The interesting series looks at its origins, and how celebrities have turned it into what it is today. Interesting reading.
  • So What Do They Eat on Christmas?. Another interesting article from the LA Times explores the Jews of Keifeng, CHINA, and how they have transitioned to living in Israel. This community knew that it was Jewish only by tradition passed down, in a country where Judaism is not an official religion, and yet have successfully integrated in Israeli society.
  • Occupy Judaism. A number of interesting articles related to Occupy. The first ask the questions of why the Occupy movement isn’t condemning antisemitism in its midst. This is not protesting about actions in the Middle East, but the stereotypical belief that all Wall Street Bankers and bank executives are defacto Jews. That’s a very dangerous notion, and must be dispelled. However, there are Jews among the protestors. This can be seen in the “Occupy Judaism” movement that is springing up. The protests are scenes for vivid experimentation in Judaism as well as society. Like the succot built at several protest sites, Occupy Judaism is an indication that there are Jews among the “99 percent” of people protesting their sense of disenfranchisement and dissatisfaction with inequalities in American society. Organizers state that the protests afford American Jews an opportunity to rethink their relationship to their own religion. It is providing a way to work around the Jewish institutions that are dominated by their wealthiest donors, whose views might not be in line with that of the wider Jewish community. Lastly, an article in the Jewish Journal clearly notes that Jews are in the 99%, by putting a specific number on it: According to the Tax Policy Center, the annual income threshold for entering the top 1 percent of U.S. household income is $506,553. So how many Jews earn more than a half million dollars a year? Probably less than a third of the highest income income category or less than 3 percent. So most Jews can look around and assure themselves that they are part of the 97 percent if not the 99 percent. According to the article’s author, Jews constitute about 6 percent of the 1,175,000 U.S. households who together own approximately 40 percent of the wealth of the country, but Jews are disproportionately represented among the wealthy who have come out for greater taxation of their own wealth.