Monday, May 31, 2010

Flotilla Fadicha

If you have been following the news lately, you might have heard about the planned flotilla to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Yesterday, the flotilla made good on its word to proceed, and the Israelis made good on their word to stop them from illegally entering Israeli territory.

The activists, who claimed to have peaceful intentions, reacted violently to the boarding of their ships by Israeli special forces. Many attacked the Israelis with metal pipes, some with mace and even knives. The Israeli forces boarded the ships, but left 9 activists dead and tens more injured. See first hand footage of the Israelis boarding the ship and being met with violent resistance.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Only We Can Make Fun of Ourselves

I know, you come to the St. Lou Jew looking for insight into being a Jewish young adult in St. Louis and you just get a youtube video. If it makes you feel any better, it isn't just any video. It happens to be a great video from Israel (with English subtitles). In a style described as the 'SNL Oh Really' of Israel, the reporters cover some of Israel's biggest issues in a way that calls out the sheer absurdity of it all. Check it out!
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Press Coverage in the Huffington Post

Looks like Next Dor isn't the only game in town getting some great press coverage. We were recently tipped off to this great story in the Huffington Post about Aaron Woolf, which cites our interview with the documentary film maker.

Click here to read the full HuffPo article, and here to read our full interview Read More......

Monday, May 17, 2010

This week in the Lou

So you looked into your magic 8-ball and it came up cloudy for the week... never fear, The St. Lou Jew is here to make sure you know what is happening in St. Louis

Here is some light reading before we jump in about why young Jews don't affiliate and the failure of the American Jewish Establishment (our favorite discussions topics).

Now on to the main events:

Tonight, be sure to catch Aaron Woolf's new film, entitled "Beyond Motor City" which is making its local debut at the Tivoli tonight at 7 PM. Aaron will be in the house along with Congressman Russ Carnahan, so be sure to stop in and meet them.

Tomorrow, catch Twilight Tuesdays at the History Museum followed by Shavuot, which pops off with Yoga at the Next Dor House, headlined by a brief prayer by Rabbi Susan Talve at 8 PM.

On Wednesday, TriYoga will be at Next Dor at 6:45, with Moise House holding a Movie night at 7:30.

Thursday, Autiomadic will be performing with the Hood Internet at the Gramophone. Show up early for free PBR.

Friday, 3rd Friday's is back at Next Dor, bringing a meal fit for a king at a price fit for a pauper (free!). This month, Melody from AIPAC will be in the house to talk about her work. More information here

As if you didn't already have enough to do, right?
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

How's Your Thursday Shaping Up?

Trying to figure out what is going on tonight? Maybe you are looking for some mental stimulation, or just want to hear some great music. Not to worry, the St. Lou Jew has you covered!

Tonight, the St. Louis Israel Connection's Israeli Film Series continues with Waltz With Bashir, the internationally acclaimed movie dealing with the director's search for memory and meaning in the events of the Lebanon war and Massacres in the Sabra and Shattila refugee camps.

Waltz with Bashir is an astonishing work of art that sets fire to the deep human questions emerging from contemporary Israel. Israel's Ari Folman tries to wrap his head around 1982's Lebanon War (the title refers to Lebanese leader Bashir Gemayel). Why do disturbing dreams plague his former army colleagues, while he remembers nothing? Folman meets with nine of them to find out.

The film contains adult and graphic content, so note you've been warned. Here is the info: 6:45pm @ the Holocaust Museum, 12 Millstone Campus Drive St. Louis MO 63146

If you are in the mood for something a bit less heavy, make sure to get over to the City Museum and check out Midwest Mayhem for dancers, DJs, food, drink, and 12 bands on four stages. Make sure to be there for the FUnky Butt Brass Band.

You have no excuse to sit at home alone tonight. If you don't know, now you know.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

JAPS on TV... Jewsey Shore?

Two signs of the apocalypse, Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore are two of the most popular shows on TV. So how could it get any worse? By combining the two of them into a show about Jewish American Princesses.

Oh yea, it's that bad. According to a story on Radar Online, "An email sent out by Get Some Media says “Production company looking for ‘Super Jappy’ groups of friends! Women ages 21 – 45 are able to apply for this reality show. Gone are the days where being a JAP is a bad thing – today Jewish American Princesses are proud.”"

This is exactly what our country needs! A way to show off super materialistic upper-crusters who are chosen because they are Jewish. I love a good set up.

So not only are we hurtling ourselves towards all-out class warfare, now we are opening the door for stereotypes and begging them to take flight.

Jezebel has already weighed in on the story, but I certainly hope that there are enough people out there who believe this idea to be complete crap that it never makes the light of daytime television (or any other time for that matter).

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let's Get Street (Car)

In the wake of the Metro Prop A win, and in anticipation of Aaron Woolf's visit conjunction with the debut of 'Beyond Motor City', it seems particularly pertinent to shout out Cincinnati for its progress on an urban street car line.

That's right, Cincinnati, the city that makes St. Louis look progressive on most issues, has taken major steps in bringing back the street car.
In moves that come right from the top levels of local government, a Cincinnati city council committee has recommended approval of $64 million in bonds to create a street car line. Not to say that they are going to make this happen overnight, but this shows that the city is really committed to making something happen. From the article:

Most public speakers encouraged the council members to, after several years of often contentious review, forcefully move ahead on the streetcar project, which has become a political flashpoint inside and outside City Hall alternately seen as a linchpin of the city’s future or a symbol of ill-conceived government spending.

“The question isn’t whether we can afford to build the streetcar,” said David Cole of Westwood. “The question is whether we can afford not to.”

Dear St. Louis... are you paying attention?
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Review of Rabbi Akiva Tatz Talk at Next Dor

Last night, Rabbi Akiva Tatz, known for his talks, lectures and books covering a variety of Jewish subjects, spoke to 20 young adults about relationships and the idea of Jewish marriage

It is perhaps important to note the difference between the 'Jewish idea of marriage' as compared to 'the idea of Jewish marriage'. The subtle difference between the two is that the Jewish idea of marriage focuses on what a marriage provides, the relationship, the connection, etc., while the idea of a Jewish marriage focuses by definition on two Jews marrying for the purpose of creating a Jewish family. Follow me so far?

Rabbi Tatz began by laying out the non-negotiables for the basis of the marriage, that the relationship had to be between a man and a woman, that both partners must be Jewish (although a convert is 1000% Jewish, so long as they were converted in the Orthodox fashion).

He delved into some of the Kabbalistic understandings of marriage as the reunification of a single soul torn into two upon its journey from the spiritual to the physical world.

Rabbi Tatz went on to speak about attraction/chemistry as the most important factor, followed by the person's character, and along the way provided examples of marriages that had worked out, or hadn't depending on these various items.

Now it is important to note that Rabbi Tatz, although not born religious, is now quite religious, and is fairly black and white in regards to right and wrong ways to do things Jewishly. This made his comments all the most interesting when considering that his audience was composed of a mixed crowd of both fully secular and more religious Jews.

Rabbi Tatz did recognize that, while in religious communities, being set up with a wife without knowing her can work, that it is necessary to spend more time getting to know a potential partner in the secular world.

He raised a point almost totally foreign in the secular world. "How do you know when it is time to get engaged or call it off?" he asked. "When you know that one more date with the person will not reveal any new information." That is to say that once you know everything you need to know to make the decision, it is time to make it.

This runs fully counter to the flow of the secular world, in which people are often not considering marriage (particularly early on) during dating. For Rabbi Tatz and the Orthodox world, why date if you aren't moving specifically towards marriage?

The conversation was certainly an interesting one and brought up, in true Jewish fashion, more questions than answers. To learn more about Rabbi Akiva Tatz, please click here

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Aaron Woolf: Director of Beyond Motor City

Aaron Woolf is a documentary filmmaker is best known for King Corn, which looks at the complex outcomes of our country’s decision to heavily subsidize the production of corn. His new film, called Beyond Motor City, takes Aaron’s incisive ability to understand interacting systems and present them in a digestible way through the medium of film.

We had a chance to speak with Aaron in anticipation of the St. Louis debut of Beyond Motor City (May 17th at the Tivoli at 7 PM). Check out what the man has to say!

The St. Lou Jew:
You have spent a lot of time looking into agricultural systems, particularly the Corn Industry, and focused a lot on local agriculture. How did you make the jump from that into looking at transportation?

Aaron Woolf:
It is actually not that huge of a leap. After making King Corn, I became really interested in the nuts and bolts of local and regional food economies so I opened a small grocery store focused on local products (in Brooklyn) to see what the challenges really are. The bottleneck in the adoption of local and organic foods isn’t lack of demand...or even supply. In fact, arable lands near big cities are the some of the only places where we’re seeing a lot of young people returning to agriculture. It is the infrastructure [of getting the food to market] that’s lacking.
We played around with the idea of listing the carbon footprint of everything in our store, but found that the truth is that a kiwi from New Zealand can have a smaller carbon footprint than an organic tomato from New Jersey, which has a lot to do with the systems of getting these items from one place to another.

So I became interested in understanding how these systems, rail and highway, get built.

It turns out that, in terms of a national vision for transportation, America has radically transformed itself before...but really only once in a generation. I think we are at that point in our generation where we can once again transform.

STLJew: How did you settle on Detroit as the focal point of this film?

AW: I was initially interested in Detroit based on the vigorous local food movement there, but the more I looked at it, from a transportation and infrastructure standpoint, the more I saw the way that, historically, the city was so much more just the place we associate with the auto industry. Detroit has actually embodied each of the previous transportation chapters our nation has been through as well - from canals and rail through to the highway dominated system we have today.

In the early 19th century, Detroit went from being a sleepy outpost to a thriving river city due to the commerce created by the construction of the Erie Canal. It was an incredibly audacious act. Prior to that point, the longest canal in the US was 30 miles. The Erie Canal was a 300 mile project – and represented the can-do spirit of the new nation. It had a huge transformative effect. It is likely that without the Erie Canal, New Orleans would have eclipsed New York as the country’s premier port and economic capital. The entire outcome of the Civil War might have turned out differently!

When you examine the introduction of rail and highways systems in later epochs, you can see that Detroit was always at the vanguard. I would like to see an audacious investment in a 21st century transportation infrastructure take hold in Detroit again and I think it’s possible.

If Detroit could rethink transportation, as they have done before, they could create an new model for what a city could be. Detroit could turn the decay, isolation, and abandonment into an opportunity. By combining new transportation infrastructures and a renewed initiative to bring real manufacturing for a green economy back to America with urban agriculture in Detroit’s abandoned sectors, Detroit could recreate the urban model and possibly be the first major city to feed itself!

StLouJew: You mention the decay and abandonment that permeates Detroit. Just recently the government of Detroit just announced a plan to raze entire areas of the city. How did we get to this point of being so spread out that our cities are that unsustainable?

AW: I think we have improperly come to conflate the car with the idea of freedom in this country. It was easier to say that cars and freedom were connected when oil was $11 a barrel and before we began to feel so un-free on our myriad clogged highways. For far too long, public transit has come to be thought of as the transit of last resort. But what form will a 21st century transportation landscape take?

You know, I was born in 1964. I remember some time in elementary school a teacher told me that in my adult lifetime we would have the metric system and physical transportation based around jetpacks. We already had the technology… Well it turns out that teacher was way wrong on both counts.

Of course if “freedom”, as in freedom of movement, were our only objective, jetpacks would represent the ultimate in freedom. But they also take immense amounts of energy to operate. Maybe when, knowingly or unknowingly, we decided not to invest in jetpack technology, we actually made a responsible choice… maybe for once we didn’t go with the most reckless and excessive way of doing things.

In my parents’ generation, everyone wanted to move to the suburbs, in your generation we are seeing a yearning to be part of a dense urban community. Maybe there’s another kind of freedom in NOT having a car. We once imagined infrastructure in a way that would make us free, but that so called freedom is totally unsustainable.

StLouJew: When it comes to food, individuals have the ability to impact the market by voting with their purchases, with transportation, change often comes from the top down. How do we take the 30,000 foot view?

AW: Perhaps we will find our motivation from the sense of competitiveness with other countries. China, Japan, Brazil and Europe are all re-thinking their transportation systems based on a balanced and sustainable future. They’re taking the long-term view, even though transportation investment can be expensive in the short term.

But perhaps we can find some of the motivation to change by looking at our own history… Creating this idea of a new American system is a powerful idea. Abraham Lincoln was a protégé of Henry Clay, who based his political thought on just that, creating a “New American System” which was based in large part on investing in a national transportation infrastructure. This is how the legislation that gave birth to the transatlantic railroad got snuck in during the civil war.

Look at what the Chinese and Spanish are doing today. They have invested heavily in the infrastructure that is going to build the next economy. The Chinese have spent $350 billion over the past 10 years on building a high-speed rail infrastructure - to put this in perspective, note that Obama just signed an $8 billion high speed rail bill into law.

We have the technology to do what we want to do. But we have to be willing to make the physical planning choices necessary and we have to understand how these interlocking systems locally, regionally, and nationally connect. We need to think long-term and think through the consequences of our choices.

In the realm of agriculture, I don’t think Earl Butz - who set us on a course of all out corn production - was “Doctor Evil” but his policies stressed productivity above all other considerations like environment and health and now we’re dealing with the unintended consequences. I don’t think Henry Ford thought cars would contribute to the disintegration of our communities. He thought he was democratizing transportation, but at the dawn of the 21st century we can see that our unbalanced emphasis on car-centered transportation has really helped remove people from each other -- and ironically has contributed in places like Detroit to a decaying sense of community. I really feel like we need to look at history to know how to move forward. That’s why we focus on that so much in the movie.

We are at a pivotal point in history, and in the world today we have countries who are hungry and willing to do what it takes to build their communities. Our greatest strength in this country is our diverse communities and our incredible reserve of human resources. But building a transportation infrastructure that supports human interaction and becomes a foundation for enterprise is prerequisite to taking full advantage of those resources.

We have the opportunity as a nation to meet that challenge. I think there are seeds of it almost everywhere in the country right now - not least of all in Detroit. Detroit is a place that has ridden the highest highs and the lowest lows of our national transportation choices. I believe the city can once again lead us toward a new vision. But it’s a conversation we need to have now.

Take the next step in the conversation, see the movie and meet Aaron on May 17 at the Tivoli!
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Monday, May 3, 2010

International Speaker and Author Dr. Akiva Tatz in St. Louis

It's not everyday that you get to hear a renowned (and famous) person speak (for free), just some days, and that day this week is Thursday.

Rabbi Akiva Tatz has spoken all over the world on topics such as Jewish medical ethics, relationships, finding one's purpose in life.

Wikipedia has the following to say about Rabbi Tatz:

Rabbi Tatz gives lectures to Jewish student groups and organisations across the UK, including an annual medical ethics lecture at University College London hosted by both the Jewish Society and Medical Ethics Society. He is also a regular lecturer on the Jewish Learning Exchange Genesis leadership programme. He has become a recognized expert in matters of Jewish thought and philosophy, which he covers in his authored texts. Zoketsu Norman Fischer, former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center and founder of and teacher at the Everyday Zen Foundation, describes Tatz's work, Letters to a Buddhist Jew, as "a fascinating book - the most serious contribution in this field to date."

Tatz is both the founder and director of the Jerusalem Medical Ethics Forum, whose purpose is to promote knowledge of Jewish medical ethics internationally, giving lectures worldwide[9] in Jewish thought and medical ethics, as well as on modern applications in medicine.[10] He is also involved with the Jerusalem Center for Research in Medicine and Halacha, often speaking at their annual European events.

To learn more about the event, please click here
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