Ben Murane

Ben Murane is formerly the Communications Coordinator at Hazon. He is new to the intersection of Jews, food and contemporary life and in particular he is new to vegetables which are not microwaved. Ben Murane was also the Executive Director of Jewish Student Press Service/New Voices Magazine in 2005-2006. He serves on the organizing committees for Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the National Havurah Committee's Summer Institute and Matzat; and is a proud resident of Crown Heights. He is also a senior editor of Jewschool.com. He would like you to sign the pledge to support President Obama's drive for Middle East Peace at www.obamapledge.org.

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Are we anti-establishment?

Here’s a little foray from recipes and cookie cutters: Jo Ellen Kaiser, editor in chief of Zeek Magazine, covered the burgeoning Jewish social justice sector for Sojourner’s Magazine, a liberal Christian mag. In it, she cites Hazon as an example of how the Jewish social justice movement has shunned the organized Jewish world. Over at Jewschool.com, they’re discussing whether that’s true or not.

Jo Ellen, who is a good colleague of mine who I respect greatly, portrays us oddly:

Kosher “Organic Batter Blaster” vicariously attends the Hazon food conference

batter-blaster-300x287

My dear friends The Wandering Jew and David Levy over at Jewschool, sick with envy that they couldn’t attend the Hazon Food Conference this year, produced this tongue-in-cheek video to vicariously participate nonetheless. Please enjoy their playful snark as we consider how the hell this product fits into the eco-kashrut movement.

The (Food) Court Jew?

Here’s an uncomfortable intersection between Jews and food ethics — the Jewish spokesman for food lobby American Council on Science and Health, Jeff Steir, appeared on the Daily Show last week to receive a royal roasting.

I presume the days when people don’t know they’re on a parody show are past, surely Steir knew what he was getting into. Presumably he thought this was the only way to get a hearing out there. But the entire segment me cringe. How embarrassing:

Little Crop of Horrors
thedailyshow.com

A View of the Victims of the “War on Kosher”

No warOver at Jewschool, Borough Park-born blogger “chillul Who?” covers the email chain letter promoting a petition by supporters of the Rubashkin family, condemning (denying?) the events as the “War on Kosher.” As of almost 1 pm today, it has over 10,500 signatures.

But more interesting to me than the content of the petition are the comments of the signatories. Ranging from the persecuted panic to the phenominally ignorant to the poetically philosophical, the thousands of pages contain jewels of understanding of a world almost totally un-JCarrot. Enter the dramatis personae:

The conspiracy theorists: 

Name not displayed, New York
What started out as a PETA tactic to stop the slaughtering of as many animals as they could, became a government witch-hunt far disproportionate to any alleged crimes committed.

The clever: 

Raphael Chudaitov, New York
DONT HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME.

Do We Need to Pay Birthright Alumni to Have Shabbat Dinner?

Money in foodI’ve posted on this already in a couple other forums, but this is of special relevance to readers of JCarrot:Birthright’s post-trip program, Birthright NEXT, is not only reimbursing trip alumni $25 per head to hold a Shabbat dinner, but now they’re offering alumni organizers $20 Amazon.com gift certificates for each Shabbat dinner they recruit. Including up to $1,000, the email boasts.

What? Since when was Shabbat a pyramid scheme? When was multi-level marketing a way to excite people about cooking a meal with friends? Must we harness self-interest in consumerism in order to get kids to be Jewish? Have we fallen to a new level of desperation? There is something deeply smelly about this tactic. Once again, the organized Jewish community has decided to answer the droopy quality of Jewish life offerings with a marketing campaign and financial largess.

English Al-Jazeerah Does Jerusalem Cuisine

Al-Jazeerah’s English channel explores via YouTube the cuisine of Jerusalem (part 1 and part 2) and according to an excellent article by the Jerusalem Metro Blog (JMB), “…You know what? They did a great job.”

JMB explains the revealing twists of this video piece, because this isn’t just about mashed chickpeas, but (as with all things Middle East) also identity and politics. Jewish viewers might be surprised at Al-Quds University’s Dr. Ali Qleibo’s  passionate rant about the appropriation of hummus by the Jewish State.

The JMB post is a few months old, but just last week, Lebanon sued Israel over claiming hummus as it’s own, saving this half-written post of mine from purgatory in the “Drafts” folder.

Kashrut has no God — But shouldn’t it?

Talk to GodPeople often are confused by my explanation of my Jewish practice. They ask, “How kosher are you?” or “What’s your Shabbat practice?” and my answer is always something along these lines:

“Whatever the Old Man Upstairs and I decide that day.”

For whatever reason, that’s always chuckle-worthy to them. Which is unusual, because in Christian circles, talk of personal relationships and conversations with God is very common. Whereas as close as Judaism seems to get, the Bratslav tradition of hitbodedut, is extremely radical, even now: “To talk to God in your own tongue, without pre-prepared words, like you would a friend? How weeeeird.

Jewy Foodie Newsie

The week is already off to a big foodie Jewy start:

Kosher Olympics – Very Hungry?

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The JTA reported that one of the kosher restaurants in Beijing shechted (kosher slaughtered) 7 1/2 tons of beef and 9 tons of chicken in preparation for the kosher Olympics. They also plan to fly in five rabbinical supervisors specifically for the event.

Jokes about Jewish grandmothers being over-prepared aside, just how many Jews can possibly be going to the Olympics?

Teriyaki Dog Off the Oympics Menu – That’s Just Wrong

Dog on a plateApparently Beijing has ordered the 112 approved restaurants for the Olympics to stop serving dog with “the sensitivity of foreign visitors in mind.”

Vegetarian satire aside, I extremely disagree with this decision. Dog, as unappetizing it might be to us sheltered Americans, is a part of the cuisine of a large part of the world (the extent of which I can’t say).

But what if Israel hosted the Olympics — would we put aside gefilte fish? (Hell, even lots of Jews think that one’s nasty.) Or ban schnitzel? Hummus? Olives? No way. That’s what we eat. We don’t have to apologize to anyone for kashrut, nor latkes.

Kosher Ham

No, not for real, but some food-based humor from t-shirt jokesters KosherHam.com, which is (yet another) clever culture jokes apparel site. But as a testament to our people’s connection to food, here are my favorite food jokes/designs:

21 One fish Jew fish shirt

Hummus-related Mishegaas

A quick food round up from the Jewy blogosphere:

Mishegaas Leftovers

Briefly:

Matzah Verges on Destroying Israeli Government

After months of the largest religious party’s membership waffling on participation in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coaltion – on issues as divisive as partitioning Jerusalem and a ceasefire with Hamas – Olmert might find his coalition collapsing over an unexpected blindside: matzah.

As the Forward reports, a landmark ruling by the Israeli court system abrogated a law illegalizing the sale of leavened bread during Pesach (NY Times article from 2001 on the chametz police here). The ruling cited that restuarants and stores are private property and thus not violating any “public display” of bread.

But further, the judge ruled that “Hametz prohibitions as they are outlined in the Halacha,” are not relevant. The secular law only prevents the display of goods that look like bread, such as “bread, rolls and pitas.”

Needless to say, the ultra-Orthodox are pissed.