In a series of interviews, Mel Gibson sought to combat his anti-Jewish reputation. “When I said the Jews were responsible for all the wars in the world, I meant that as a compliment. You know, it’s good to be responsible. But I was drunk, so I guess I wasn’t articulating clearly.” Gibson explained that the controversy was blown out of proportion by the media, “which everyone knows is controlled by a bunch of hook-nosed, money-grubbing Hebes.”
Rabbi Avi Weiss conferred the title “rabba” on Sara Hurwitz, a member of his synagogue staff. The RCA responded by conferring on Weiss the title “troublemaker,” “out of control,” and “off the deep end.” The president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance was available for comment, which was “Yippee!”
An Israeli manufacturer began marketing “Rambam soap” (I’m not making this up!). Handmade “according to the philosophy of the Rambam,” the herbal soap is packed with moisturizers, exfoliants, and Aristotelian metaphysics. The perfect Chanukah gift for the medieval history professor who has everything. Not to be used in conjunction with Raavad Shampoo.
New York State inspectors raided the chasidic village of New Square, investigating allegations of child abuse by Skver chasidim at a bar mitzvah, where children under 18 were served unlimited amounts of borscht.
In Tel Aviv, Anat Kam, a former soldier, copied thousands of military documents from an army computer onto a memory stick and smuggled the information out using a device known as a “knapsack.” Israeli courts cancelled the gag order on the story, after bloggers on the Internet broke details using a sophisticated code, “Irlgay who olstay ecretsay eldhay for eyingspay.” Kam leaked the documents to an Israeli journalist who declared his innocence shortly after fleeing to England.
President Obama nominated a Jewish woman, Elena Kagan, to the Supreme Court. At her bat mitzvah in 1972, she gave a sermon entitled “Reading Pharaoh his Rights.” Kagan never served as a judge, but during her years in academia and government she was routinely required to make difficult decisions such as whether to wear skirts or slacks to work. At the Senate confirmation hearings, Republicans raised concerns over her support for the Boston Red Sox. Nevertheless, Kagan’s appointment was confirmed, allowing her to join the other two Jewish Supreme Court Justices, Ruti Ginsburg and Shlomie Breyer.
JTS, facing a multi-million-dollar budget deficit, announced that it will eliminate its doctoral programs and reorganize its academic program to focus exclusively on teaching bar and bat mitzvah lessons. Chancellor Arnold Eisen explained, “JTS will retain its traditional emphasis on scholarship, but our focus will be broader and more inclusive, touching our member-families and communities. Also, you would not believe how much bar mitzvah teachers make!”
In a year of scandals, controversy and economic uncertainty, the RCA Halakha Committee proved itself keenly connected to the concerns of the Orthodox community by producing a 110-page study regarding brain death. In a courageous display of rabbinic leadership, the authors offered no conclusions. But the study raised the hackles of medical specialists, especially when it cited medical studies showing that brain death causes drowsiness and dizzy spells in rhesus monkeys.
After the bungled assault on the Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza, the Israeli navy announced that its commandos would no longer raid ships armed only with pepper spray, whistles, and homemade slingshots.
Rabbi Avi Weiss stirred up another scandal when he organized a special Kabbalat Shabbat service led by Lady Gaga. Agudath Israel issued a press release criticizing Yeshiva University for ordaining Rabbi Weiss 37 years earlier: “A Torah-true institution would have seen this coming.”
Rabbis from the “modern” wing of Orthodoxy issued a “Statement of Principles” declaring that Jews with a homosexual orientation should be welcomed “as full members of the synagogue and school community.” To the disappointment of the gay activist community, the rabbis’ statement did not offer discounts in membership dues or tuition.
The engagement was announced of two teenage great-grandchildren of the Vizhnitzer rebbe (who spent five years as the Belzer rebbe before being traded for an outfielder and two shortstops). The combined age of the bride and groom was 33, which is 231 in dog years. Before next year’s nuptials, both members of the happy couple are expected to reach puberty.
A clerical error retroactively nullified every conversion performed in Israel since 1803. Moran Moran, a clerk at the Israel’s Ministry of Religious Indifference, accidentally pressed the wrong button on a ministry computer, while applying nail polish and Facebooking her friends at the same time. The computer malfunction also disqualified 5,541 divorces, 269 adoptions, and 14 circumcisions.
America’s Next Top Model contestant Esther Petrack showed that 12 years of day-school education (at $20,000 per year) was great preparation for walking down a runway on six-inch stiletto heels and headlining an advertising campaign for suede underwear. Striking a blow for Jewish pride, Esther proved to millions of television viewers that not all frum girls have fat thighs. Sadly, she was eliminated from the competition for her inability to spell the word “exhibitionist.”
The Conservative movement was reported to be considering a name change. “Our name’s a little embarrassing, because, um, we’re actually liberal,” said JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen. Movement leaders agreed that the term “Conservative” has unwanted associations with anti-abortionists, the gun lobby, and faith in God. To project a hipper image, the Conservatives are considering the following names:
1. Jews You Can Use
2. Schechter’s Shtick-kickers
4. The Democratic Party
The controversial lobby J Street was embarrassed by press revelations that three of its biggest donors live in Saudi Arabia. A spokesman for J Street, David Irving, explained that the lobby supports Palestinian policies, “but we believe this ultimately helps Israel.” J Street has also declared that buying Pepsi helps Coca-Cola and voting for a Democratic candidate helps the Republicans.
England’s Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton, whose great-great grandmother on her father’s side was not Jewish. However, the prince is known to have tasted garlic-flavored Tam-Tams and was once seen laughing at a joke by Jerry Seinfeld.
After suspending construction of its new building for lack of funds, a New York synagogue received a surprise pledge of $20 million. The anonymous donation will allow completion of the new home of Lincoln Square Synagogue, soon to be renamed the Sheldon and Sylvia P. Schwartzman Synagogue.
A music video featuring fourteen Yeshiva University students became a surprise hit on YouTube, garnering over four million hits, only 37,000 fewer than a clip featuring a dancing hamster. Singing “Candlelight,” a Chanukah parody of a rap song, the MaccaBeats parlayed their Internet fame into concerts, television appearances, and 691 marriage proposals.