jewin' the fat


From the vault: Ennui-tainment 1 & 2
April 12, 2010, 9:57 AM
Filed under: Comment | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today marks Yom HaShoah, Israel’s national Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Memorial Day, and around the country and the world, ceremonies are being held to commemorate and consecrate those who perished under the Nazi regime. In Israel, the theme centres around “The Voices of the Survivors”, and the ways in which survivors themselves have contributed to Holocaust commemoration over the years.

But what happens when there are no more survivors to tell their own stories? How will we carry the heavy burden of remembrance?

Take a look at this double-header from September 2009, on the power of commemoration and the importance of maintaining its relevance for future generations.

Part One

Part Two

Velvele Valentin Pinkert, one of the 33 771 victims of the massacre at Babi Yar on September 29-30, 1941 (HT @ Yad Vashem - http://www.yadvashem.org)

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It’s a long way to the top
April 11, 2010, 9:55 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , , ,

Reading this story on Gawker got me thinking about university and the nasty game of graduate journalism. It’s been three years since I graduated, and lo and behold, while I am still in the media field, I have gone over to the dark side. Not because I lost the spark of independence, or my sense of the power and justice of the fourth estate. Nope. I needed the money, and this job was not only looking to hire, pay, and respect me for my time and efforts accordingly, but they hired, paid and respected me a helluva lot more than most graduate journalism jobs. 

It starts with the fight to get the marks to get into the degree, and the smarts to keep up with the fast paced course, unforgiving markers, and the burning hole in your pocket kept smouldering with hundreds of dollars of investment in chasing stories. 

If that doesn’t kill the fire to tell Australia and the world something worth sharing, when you finally land that (unpaid) job at a regional/local/suburban paper (because the other 70 applications bounced right back atcha) the painstaking hours spent pitching, preparing, driving, meeting, interviewing, transcribing, writing, typing, editing, re-editing, re-working, photographing, captioning, editing – It’s little wonder Journalists are known for their drinking habits. I’d be driven to the bottle too. 

We can't all be Hunter S Thompson ... but we all learn to drink like him (Photo: aquariumdrunkard.com)

Given that even seasoned journalists everywhere are fighting to keep their jobs in the wake of one of the greatest revolutions of modern news media, it is a bleak future ahead for those who are looking to make it big as a reporter. A boom in blogging, online media start-ups (drudge report, huffington post – even our very own JC), and a shift to Public Relations has saved some, but far too many are being convince that the only way is the hardest way. 

Call me crazy, but the second a graduate lawyer or physician or accountant has to work for free, I’ll just right on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.  Hell, it might even get my parents off my back for choosing Journalism over Law. Maybe.  

But in Australia, you can’t get a job unless you’ve been working for that paper/news organisation for free all the way through university, and then someone managed to convince someone up high that you are worthy of taking that maternity leave gig, or fortnightly column, or that you don’t mind going under the pen-name “News Desk Staff”. 

With that being said, there are plenty of smart, talented, ambitious students who have worked hard, learned fast, and put in the networking hours to get a great job as a radio/tv/print/online journalist. But there are far more who are working nights, steadfast in their belief that a television captioning gig, media monitor/summaries job, or working for by-lines (and little else) is the way to the top. 

Sadly for the time being, it may not be right, but it’s true. It’s a long, long way, and if you don’t know the right people, have the right timing, or got the endurance, it can be a bumpy ride.



Under-estimated and Under-age
April 8, 2010, 10:03 AM
Filed under: Comment, Jewish Community | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I remember sitting in early morning Prayers in high school, a quietly fuming 14 years old and one detention note closer to threatening to turn the whole institution on its head. No, I wasn’t the kid who called in bomb threats to get out of History exams, nor was I the student who lit the computer room on fire, or the idiot who stood on a chair to get the teacher’s frayed attention and stuck his hand in the fully operational ceiling fan. They were the best of times and the worst of  times …  

Nope. I was a rebel with a cause, and that cause was the hypocrisy I could smell on every teacher in every carpet in every classroom. My school reeked of it, and I recall this morning in morning prayers because that is when I came face-to-face with the woman whose hypocrisy went so deep, even Easy-Off BAM’s poor example of grammar couldn’t have scrubbed it out. Looking back it was a simple matter of insubordination – a refusal to a direct order to open a prayer-book. But I stuck it out, protesting the inadequacy of prayer recited without proper intention, and made an offer of silent meditation in its place. My peace-offering rebuffed, I went to that afternoon detention with a smile on my face, content in the knowledge that I had stood up for what was right, and not submitted to what was expected.Lo and behold, over a decade later, I am (sadly) shocked to happen upon the same stench, thick and repulsive, all these years later. It’s still just as offensive, and although I am an adult, with power, influence and killer letter-writing skills, I can still feel the rage of underage subjection and underestimation stinging my senses.  

Except that this time, it isn’t happening to me.  It’s happening to other vulnerable, underrepresented young JC. And that is something I cannot abide.

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Just a small town giiirl
April 1, 2010, 4:39 PM
Filed under: Jewish Community | Tags: , , , ,

"OMG he was so good in Snatch. Totally Gangster"

One would assume growing up in a tightly encircled JC subculture would more than prepare me for a move from the Big Smoke to the Smaller, Less populated Smoke.  And of course, the fact that I grew up in what Real Estate agents and lazy journalists refer to as the ‘Leafy North Shore”, the sea change would really be more like a sleepover at a mate’s house just over Mona Vale Rd.

What I didn’t expect, was how much I would come to dread the return to said Big Smoke. The noise, the pollution, the traffic – everything country bumpkins have hated about Sydney, was suddenly everything I hated about Sydney. The pretension, the ‘extra hot skinny lattes – but do you have equal?’ coffee drinkers, the distance between everything, the tourists, the haphazard arrangement of suburbs and of course, the saturation of JC.

Sure, it’s a pretty Jüden time of year – Exodus season and all, but there was something about a particular gig last night that really irked me. And it was the sheer quantity of JC that I knew crammed into one tight Roundhouse spot.

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Explosive!
March 22, 2010, 10:15 AM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I can’t wait to see this in Cinemas. Four Lions is the name of a movie released in the UK in May about a group of hapless terrorists plotting an attack on London. Director Chris Morris describes the film as a ‘farce’ exposing the ‘Dad’s Army side to terrorism’. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010 and was short-listed for the festival’s World Cinema Narrative prize. Take a look at the trailer:



Flashpoint or Excuse?

“This time the flashpoint was the reopening of a restored 17th century synagogue close to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Rival Palestinian factions united in condemning the opening of the landmark Hurva synagogue, which was last destroyed 62 years ago in fighting with Jordan during the 1948 war that followed Israel’s creation.”

Police responded to the stonethrowers by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. HT@ Reuters: Darren Whiteside

Read more here.
 
“This time?!” I’m not sure what frustrates me about this article more –
– the fact that Palestinians are protesting the opening of a building (that has been under going construction since at least early 2004),
– that the Palestinians are “united in condemning” the opening of what Anne Barker calls “the landmark Hurva Synagogue” which was destroyed in the war of Independence (click here for a photo of the synagogue),
– the fact that the Hurva synagogue had been in a state of ruin for almost 50 years,
– the lack of context as to the exact location of the Synagogue (which is and always has been in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and has remained there since 17th Century)*
or perhaps the glib little phrase “This time”, which not only belittles the legitimate concerns of both sides, but reduces the conflict to a matter of incidences, easily avoidable if one side would just stop doing that one thing – bombing, building, walking, talking …  
 
Flashpoint, or excuse?
_ _ _ _ _ _
 *Case in Point: WordPress links this post to another, by Al Manar newsite, whose headline reads ““Israel” Hands Out Invitations to Attend Opening of Synagogue inside Aqsa Mosque”” … The article goes on …The sources added that the occupation authorities is making all preparations for that day, adding that according to a prophecy claimed by a Jewish rabbi in the 18th century, this synagogue will be established in the aforementioned date on the ruins of the Aqsa Mosque.

The sources added there is an agreement between the government and parties in Israel on the opening of this synagogue and Palestinian cooperation by Mahmoud Abbas’s authority to facilitate the opening ceremony and repel any Islamic moves to defend the Aqsa Mosque. 

In light of the Israeli preparations to quell any moves to defend the holy Mosque on that day, the occupation authorities prevented Jerusalemite worshipers under age 50 from entering the Mosque and launched a wide kidnapping campaign against Palestinian young men in the holy city.”Need I say more…?



Girls who like boys, who like girls, who like other boys
March 14, 2010, 4:43 PM
Filed under: Comment, Jewish Community | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As someone who never really ‘got’ the relationship game, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to find out that I am the only singleton in my group of girlfriends. Not that I mind in the slightest. In the community where being attached to a significant other is to be ‘figured out’, it has definitely ruffled a few feathers, and everyone from my Lubavitch uncle, to my friends, to my employer has tried (and failed, thankfully) to get me right, and fix me up with someone who is (always) perfect for me! And thankfully, I always dodged that bullet.

But what has got me writing this time is not so much about the single-relationship-marriage cycle that has defined the expectations of the majority of young Jews (those who take it seriously, of course). It is the unexpected conversation I had with a girlfriend of mine, who happens to be the official girlfriend of her parter.

After a whirlwind romance that broke all the rules (no professions of interest, guy must always been older, no sex on the first date, wait two to three days before calling, wait until she calls), a year later this remarkably odd couple are still going strong. She is the consummate lady, he is the ragamuffin, and surprising both their friends and themselves, they have it down. At least, I thought so.

It’s worth mentioning that the reason I find myself single is not for lack of opportunity, but more for lack of accessibility – I’ve never subscribed to the belief that there is one person for me. Rather, there are many people who float in and out of your life to make your world a little brighter for the time they are destined to be there. My Grandfather, for example, found love a second time after the death of his first wife, my Grandmother, and married again on his 80th Birthday. Mazal Tov! Unfortunately there seems to be a firm belief that, like fondue, once you dip there is no going back for seconds, regardless of how tasty that cheese may be.

So, believing myself to be the only person in my circle who followed this kind of thinking, I was surprised to find out, over the phone, that this ladyfriend of mine had done the unthinkable – and cheated on her partner.

Well, kissed another bloke, but let’s assume any and all exchange of bodily fluids constitutes betrayal. And let’s also ignore the fact that he was H.O.T.

In a community where we are prepared to neglect the Orthodoxy of our faith, the geographic togetherness of our families, the traditional gender roles, the traditional professional roles and even the expectations of our parents to seek our own destiny – what about cheating, seemingly betraying those closest to us? What about it makes it so morally reprehensible, when everything else is ok, and ours for the taking? Why are we so intent on sleeping with/kissing/seeing films with only one other person. It’s definitely a risk, and one that doesn’t seem to have a pay off big enough to warrant it. Sure, companionship is one thing, but why limit yourself to one significant other? Seems a significant waste of investment.

There is no doubt a high premium paid to enter into a relationship these days, and far too many of us are paying the excess to get rid of our exes.