jewin' the fat

Top Ten: The Zionist Conspiracy

In honour of the biggest Zionist day in the calendar year this week, here’s a tribute to the ten or so biggest Zionist-stereotypes, all of whom claiming to hold the key to what a ‘true’ Zionist really is. The reality is, at the end of the day, that Zionism is not a political theory, power conspiracy nor a policy of a government (as detractors/hacks/ignoramuses may assume), it is an ideology which is inherently personal, and interpreted by the individual to facilitate self-determination as a member of the Jewish people.

As it turns out, a bunch of those Jew-Individuals got together a couple hundred years ago and, determined to do more than argue with each other on the value of a state for Jews or a Jewish state, actually set about creating it.

It is neither the plot of the 8th Harry Potter novel, 'Harry Potter and the Zionist Conspiracy to take over the world with superior money-handling skills and uber-developed business acumen mu-ha-ha-ha-hacking-cough-ha-ha!" (HT @ : he's a Zionist - he knows!)

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Top Ten Tips: Blogging for the new-Jew
November 5, 2009, 11:33 AM
Filed under: Comment, Jewish Community, media, Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s the one of the newest crazes, and as with most things, Jews have once again shown their ability to attack, subdue and control the media – or in this case, the blogosphere. Except that this time, we were about five years too late. No matter – young Jewish people are pounding their keyboards with a fierceness we haven’t seen since Chris Brown, and it’s steadily catching on.

Even CNN is starting to sit up and take notice of the new catch of Jewish youth who are taking back their media, and injecting it back out there with a little culture and a whole lot of vengeance. Some with a little more skill than others, but we are all the Prime Minister by our mothers, right?

So it goes – your Top Ten Tips: Blogging for the new-Jew. And just like last time, if you got something to add, don’t forget to do it  at

1) Slick name: Because appearances are everything – your name needs to have enough sparkle to ensure it stands out, enough gravitas and/or hubris to be considered seriously and a generous see-if-i-care chutzpa to separate you from the wretched, grasping unoriginal hoards. Because you are the real deal. And so are you. And you too. We are all individuals …

2) Smooth delivery: Although it pops up later in this Top Ten, it’s not enough to be able to string a sentence together, or at least spell each word correctly (or incorrectly, with irony of courze). Otherwise you would just be another Miranda Devine. Make sure your content is easy to digest, uncomplicated by outrageous fonts/lay out, and entirely free of “she was as light as air” similes. They make people with an iota of intelligence want to light their hair on fire. With swiftness of a strike of a match.

3) A killer Pseudonym: Now I know that there are some out there who want their names up in lights, but let’s be honest – there is something claustrophobic about writing as a Jewish person, especially in a small community like Australia. You can expect the blogging experiment to spread like wildfire, even if you don’t use your real name – it’s called the grapevine, and Jews have been wringing it dry for centuries to make their Carmel wine. Case in point: a dear writer friend, who’s sick, slick and salacious diatribes about his sexual prowess (even whilst written on another continent, 14 hours away), reached our sunny shores and within weeks, he had shut up shop. So be aware that you are writing for an audience of more than just your mother or partner, and be read up on defamation, slander, privacy laws and all those irritating ethical problems writers deal with.  OR just make up a pseudonym.

4) Something to say: No one likes to read yesterday’s news. Make sure what you want to say is original, personal, and above all interesting. Keep it in the Public’s interest, or keep the public interested and you’ve got a winner baby.

5) An axe to grind: Ooh, those pesky (insert most hated noun here). If they (who or whatever they happen to be) really get your panties in a twist, then make a big stinking noise about it. Because in cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream – but remember, don’t go overboard, because we can also simply tune out. Keep it even, Steven.

6) Someone to read it: So we have already covered your mother and partner, but maybe it’s worthwhile, rather than blathering on for hundreds of pars, to work to a demographic. Who do you want to read this? What do they read online? Offline? Do they read at all – or would they be better served by videos, graphic novels, photos – that’s the beauty of multimedia. But keep on track – if you are planning to make a little business outta your baby, you need the clicks.

7) Someone to hate it: Any publicity is good publicity. It doesn’t matter if the people reading you hate you or love you – as long as they read you, you are in business. But don’t take it too personally. Most of the people commenting are overweight 14 year olds whose older brother won’t buy them West Coast Coolers on Saturday nights.

8 ) Spelling and Grammar: This is simple – Like attracts like, and if you write like a demented 11-year-old on MySpace, that’s who will be logging on to read you. So make sure you spellcheck, and re-read, and for God’s sake – any LOL, ROFLMAO, BRB and STFU is ridiculous, juvenile and down-right lazy. Grow up.

9) a LOT of time on your hands: Even if this is just a hobby, or creative outlet, you will have to put some effort and time into getting a blog started. Maybe not hours at a time, but definitely intermittent spurts of energy and creativity, ideally at regular or semi-regular intervals, is what keeps a blog living and breathing, and readers reading. At least once a week is a good start, but any less than that, and you wander into dangerous territory. Not dangerous like Peshawar, but close.

10) Be informed: The only way to write about stuff you know, is to, like, know stuff? You know? So do yourself a favour and get informed. Read newspapers, books, listen to music, watch films, engage in political, creative, educational pursuits – hell, watch YouTube all day. The best writers are the best readers and to get there, you’ll need to put in the hard yards.

Top Ten Tips: Surviving Simchas
September 2, 2009, 3:52 PM
Filed under: Comment, Identity, Jewish Community, Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , ,

Jewish people are a strange bunch. When it comes to their celebrations, however, the ‘strange’ dial gets cranked up to 11. For the uninformed, it can be a treacherous path towards bloating, guilt and lipstick smeared cheeks, should one wander into a simcha without proper forewarning.

“Forgetfulness leads to exile while remembrance is the secret of redemption.”
–The Baal Shem Tov

So in the spirit of generosity and my recent experiences at a myriad of (two) family Bnei Mitzah, I thought I’d share a little wisdom, and introduce my Top Ten Tips for Surviving Simchas.

Feel free to add your own to the list – the more the merrier I say:

1. Tardiness is next to Table-lessness Now this rule can be considered the most important – mostly because it goes against the traditionally accepted notion of ‘Jewish Standard Time’. When arriving at the function venue, being on time is crucialto enjoying the simcha experience, and failure to do so may result in the following shameful realities –

a) Walking in mid-speech, and feeling the death-stares of 200 guests burn through your cheeks                                                          b) Finding your name on the table lists, snaking through the crowd (who are still glowering at you as the MC waits for you to sit before he continues)  and discovering that some intrepid kid/boyfriend/grandparent has taken your place at the table.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c) Those little mushroom risotto balls, and the mini sweet potato latkes are finished. The horror, the horror.

2) Gratuitous Performances The generally abysmal slew of DJs (who run the simcha circuit with the endurance of  a long distance runner) provide sub-par entertainment, that generally includes a bit of Jewish stuff, and a lot of badly-pronounced latino party starters. What they lack in originality and head hair, they more than make up for in enthusiasm and back hair – not exactly an entertaining equation. Here enter the gratuitous performance – depending on the theme, brazilian capoeira musicians/dancers, magicians, soccer stars, tattoo artists, fairy floss machine attendants – what ever you want. Even circus midgets, at the right price of course.  And the right price, of course is: Not Cheap.

3) Old people dancing salsa. Badly. As the DJ yells “every body get on the dance floor”, there is an unfortunate phenomenon that occurs, when old people hard of hearing combine with the music of Ricky Martin, and the rhythmic intelligence of a turtle. It’s the painful, car-crash spectacle, that everyone tries not to stare at as they themselves shimmy past in a conga line. Everyone that is, except the old pair’s children, who are outside shotgunng whiskey, hoping to die of alcohol poisoning rather than go back inside to the communal heckles of “Are those your parents…?!”

4) Creepy old men toting video cameras These are usually relatives from out of town. So give em a little wave, a smile and a kind word of congratulations (“Mah-zell Tohv”), before retreating to warn your kids to “stay away from that guy”.

5) Never wait til they “call your table number” You’ll leave hungry if you do. This rule can be a bit of a maybe, so do take care not to offend the caterers, parents or party-coordinator  – but the reality is, he who eats last, eats the last of whatever is left. And at a function where the food is the reason to attend, you don’t want to be left picking up the scraps. So get those elbows ready, steady your stilletos, and when you see the wait staff clear the path to the heaving tables – remember, it’s first in, best dressed.

6) If the meal is milk, leave room for desert. If its fleish, dont bother. This is a pretty simple one – generally speaking, milk based meals are average to pretty fishy, but the desserts (creme brulee, chocolate fountains, cheese blintzes) are to die for. On the other hand, the meat based meals can be great. So choose wisely, because either way, the only way you are getting outta there is by rolling.

7) BYO – we are Jews, we don’t drink, we eat.

8 ) Simcha thank you speech– usually the father of the barmitzvah boy, this speech is longer, more boring, and less inspiring than an Academy Award thank you speech. All your favourites are there: The overseas guests who made it (who haveto be named individually), the overseas guest who didn’t (also, all named, one by one), the caterers, the immediate, extended, and hyperextended families, the fellow speech givers, the shleppers and shlemiels – it’s just a damn shame we can’t get em off quicker with some thoughtfully place Oscar wind up music. But then there is always next time …

9) Hora etiquette The power of the hora is like a black hole of never-ending dance mania, where those unfortunate souls stuck in the middle are lucky to get out alive, without being hoisted onto a chair, thrust onto a bed sheet and thrown skywards, or forced to jump endlessly on a skipping rope made of left-over table cloths. Add to this some maypoles, a couple hundred balloons filled with glitter, gimmick-sized sunglasses, and enough shmaltz to make the dancefloor shine – and you have the idea. Remember, some simcha’s are gender-separate, so if you find yourself on the wrong side of the elaborately decorated Mechitza, take care, or you could wind up like Anne Barker on one of her much maligned walks through Jerusalem …

10)Saying good bye (And never leaving) This is a simple, yet often ignored phenomenon of the Simcha. It revolves around the Jewish need to be seen, heard, and remembered. Indeed, the second hardest thing about getting your guests to arrive on time, is getting them to leave. There is always “just one more person I need to say goodbye to”, always a mutually insincere cry for that “catch-up”, the wail of “we must not leave it this long next time.” Turns out the love of Jesus isn’t the only difference between gentiles and Jews – Gentiles leave and never say goodbye, Jews say goodbye and never leave. Now I know why they needed to bribe the guests into leaving with table decorations …

These are a few of my favourite things …
August 11, 2009, 3:18 PM
Filed under: Israel, Top Ten | Tags: , , , ,

Jerusalem: It evokes picturesque sunsets and co-existence paradise, but sometimes, the reality is a touch different than what the tourguide said it would be. Too often, I meet people who are fresh off a Taglit-birthright Israel program, and in their last days in the country, they are desperate to make the most of what limited time they still have.
And for people who have travelled to all the historic sites, to all (and I mean ALL) the museums, eaten all the hotel food and spent countless hours asleep in buses, their last days implore them to seek the ‘real Israel experience’, that 10 days could not satisfy.
So here are 10 things to do, in Jerusalem, for those who need to get amongst it.

Jerusalem has some beautiful parks for such a condensed city. In and amongst the Jerusalem stone walls, lie parks large and small for your picnicing, lazing and gazing pleasure. Check out Gan Ha-Pa’amon, Gan Ha’atzmaut and Gan Saccer to see the ‘real’ Jerusalemite: kids with guitars practising their Stairway to Heaven, large families of Charadim and Muslims alike park their Mangal (a small portable BBQ) and spread out over the expanses of grass, starting football games and lavish lunches. On Friday afternoons, five piece bands play to the delight of Arak fuelled university students, and after midnight, they are replaced by deliquent teenagers, too young to buy alcohol in bars, but not too young to get high and stomp around the shrubbery and sandstone. During the week though, the parks are fantastic; if you like Georgian Barmitzvahs, Chinese tour groups and flashers that ask in a few different languages if you want to take a peek. This park-plonker says ‘hell no’.

Getting into the rent market is hard work for any young person, but try renting an apartment in Jerusalem. Scouring the anglo websites for rooms to rent, viewing hole-in-the-wall apartments above the shuq, paying outrageous real estate agent fees, dealing unsuccessfully with noisy neighbours, woken at 4am by the cries of stray cats, calling the cops on your landlady’s mentally disabled son, and being asked by your landlord if you can spot them a few hundred dollars for the weekend, a few days after you paid him three thousand dollars rent. 

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

All this and more awaits you in your search for a home in the holy city of Jerusalem. Happy hunting!

A short balding man in glasses and a suit ‘n tie walks into bars every Thursday night, trawling for young Jewish tourists. Before you jump to an ovious conclusion, let me introduce you to a Jerusalem Legend. Jeff Seidel. Every week, without fail, he hosts young kids at his home for Shabbat, some good food and a little inspiration to boot. He also runs tours to Poland and heads a centre for Jewish outreach. If you bump into him at the Kotel, or in the bars and pub area of Nachalat Shiva in town, make it a point to spend a weekend. Guaranteed good times your grandma will approve of.

If you don’t like drunk screaming Americans with attitude looking to score, just don’t do it. That’s all.

This is only for English and Australians. Just when you thought sitting in a bus as a passenger was death-defying, try getting behind the wheel of a left-hand driver car, on the right hand side of the road. Get past the five minute mark, wait til the terror-shakes subside, and you might just survive the harrowing experience of going around a round-about, struggling to remember if you give way left or right, and then realising that there are no road rules in this crazy city, and the best you can hope for while driving around is that there are no other cars on the road. Throw in peak hour traffic that starts at 11am and doesn’t stop, signs in a language you can’t read, and angry Service taxi drivers who drive like they are being chased by the cops, and you’ve got an Israel experience like no other. You’ll be thanking the gods you managed to get out of the car and onto the plane.

The Birthright Mega Event is a spectacle to behold, with thousands of young Jews from all over the world drinking on buses before converging on the convention centre in the centre of the city to hear speeches from philanthropists and hear ‘Yachad’ sung live by a troop of gorgeous looking Israelis. Did I mention it’s the highlight of the ten day experience? Bah. If you really want to know how to party, be at the Bolinat Bar on Friday afternoons to dance your ass off to some serious hardcore house, drum ‘n bass and dub step in the middle of the street with 2000 young Jerusalemite uni students, all in aid of getting a political party representing students into council.

Summer Street Parties at the Bolinat in Jerusalem are an essential

Summer Street Parties at the Bolinat in Jerusalem are an essential

Tip: Don’t wear white, because the apartments lining the streets are filled with drunk Israelis with water guns, ready to target the girls who are stupid enough to wear something see through. and get to know Arak with Lemon Squash (see ‘Arak is for the fearless’ for more details) and Goldstar. As they say “I dont believe in the Labour Party or the Liberal Party. I just believe in Parties.”

(NB: I realise this is for Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, but get over it. Rules were made to be broken)
You know those gorgeous, buff, oiled guys that pose and strut the beaches? OK, now picture them in forty years, and the fat old men in speedos playing shesh besh are their future. But they still think they are well able to crack onto teenagers in bikinis. And who are you to deny them? Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the attention as they lavish Champagne, cocktails and massages on you, all for the cheap cheap price of a bit of an oggle and some small talk. Pimpin’ was never made so easy. Tip: Ask what they did in the IDF for an hour of respite from the come-ons, and a chance to grab some shut-eye behind your sunglasses.

Like Sambucca with a rocket up its ass, Arak, an Israeli made liquer will stick a rocket up your ass, before sending you into an alcohol fuelled daze that will end with tears, lost clothing and vomit. Often not your own. It is the drink of choice for young Israelis and is cheap. Dirt cheap. Disregard the warning, and give it a go. Satisfaction guaranteed. Tip: Try it with Lemon and mint in a slushie, or take it in a shot for a quick ‘n nasty intoxication.

If there is one thing completely forbidden on an organised trip, it’s venturing into the Old City alone, and its definitely being alone in the Arab Quarter. Which sucks while you are on tour, because some of the most interesting food, bazaars, people and architecture is all in the AQ. Whatever, you are free now, so go crazy! Make sure to eat humous at the tiny cafe next to the water fountain, and enjoy the complementary strong black coffee and baklawah. 200 metres down the road, is some of the best antique shopping in the city, and make sure you ask for Barakat for some great deals. Hot Tip: Stay away from the main strip shuq that leads down to the kotel; it’s full of scammers and is a tourist trap – “Lady, you want shopping? Lady, Ullo Lady!” Just make sure you have a knife slipped in your boot, and get out before dark.

Meeting friends in Jerusalem happens in large open plazas, but make sure you know which is which, because it can get confusing. There is Kikar Tzion or Zion Square, at the foot of Ben Yehuda Street, and it is filled with beat-boxing buskers, bus loads of tourists wearing shorts and sneakers, snapping photos of everything, and seminary kids, taking advantage of a public place to surrepticiously flirt with the opposite sex. Language: American. Next up is Crack Square. Yep, there’s no need to translate that one. It is at the top of Rivlin Street (see ‘Stay well clear of Zollis. or Rivlin Street’ for more details) and is filled with some of the harder drug users in the city. It also has a great vegetarian restaurant right next door. Yum yum. Language: Street cred. Finally, we have Kikar Chatulot or Cats Square. Ok, this is my favourite place, because you can get really cheap cabs here to my place, but mostly, drunk Israelis converge with families out for dinner and heaps of stray cats at the bottom of yet another tourist hot spot, not least because of the great pottery and jewellery stores. Language: Dollars Only.