Jewish Explosion: Purim Edition


All the news that’s fit to print in a revival of our Purim shpiel. The holiday begins the night of March 4.

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El Al Strikes out With Phillie Phanatic

Shai Liam Beittig, JE staff

An El Al flight bound for Israel was held up for several hours on the runway of Philadelphia International Airport on Monday morning by the Phillie Phanatic, the lovable but uncomfortable green mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Apparently the Phanatic, who was joining the Birthright trip of his younger cousin, Phreddie, was forced to take up two seats when he couldn’t fit into one, according to an El Al flight attendant.

“At first I thought he was upset because he was seated in between two women — we’ve had that problem before — but then I saw that he was hanging out of his seat,” said the attendant, who preferred to remain anonymous. “He was irate and throwing hot dogs all over the place; while we were able to determine they were all beef, they were not certified kosher!"

The tearful woman added, “He shook his belly at me.”

Nathan Thurm, the spokesman for the Phillies organization, said the team was looking into possible legal action it could take against the Israeli airline for “embarrassing our mascot even more than our team’s record the last couple of years.” Thurm also noted that the Phanatic intended to eat schwarma on the trip regardless of his weight issues.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Phanatic to branch out and try new Mediterranean cuisine,” he explained. “We aren’t too worried about his weight slowing him down on the field.”

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Bieber in Hot Water Over Queen Esther Tweet

Gail Haim Boetti, JE staff

Canadian singing sensation and heartthrob Justin Bieber has gotten into yet another tweeting controversy after making what some are calling a chauvinistic tweet about Queen Esther.

The tweet, which was taken off Twitter a few hours after being posted, read “#QueenEsther. Wood luv 2hav u danse in my nu music video, wat u think? #Purim#Belieber#AhashverusGotItRight.”

Several women’s rights groups immediately slammed the tweet as sexist and inappropriate.

After the various groups held news conferences to publicly chide the Calvin Klein underwear model, Bieber took to Twitter yet again, this time to explain himself.

“I didn’t mean to harm anyone, I just heard that Queen Esther was a fan and thought it would be cool to have her collaborate on my next artistic project,” read the tweet. A follow-up tweet continued, “I understand now that my actions may have been construed by some as sexist or inappropriate and I want to state publicly that I respect women with all my heart #Apology#WorldPeace.”

Afterwards, Bieber revealed to Seventeen magazine that his mother had penned the surprisingly articulate tweet. He added that he planned on extending Queen Esther an invitation to cover Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” with him as a duet on his next album.

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Bar Refaeli Addresses Congress at Biden's Invitation

Woody Bernstein, JE Staff

Vice President Joe Biden invited Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli to address Congress despite calls for Biden to keep a lower profile.
Refaeli accepted the invitation and spoke on March 2, one day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress and warned about the danger of the proposed deal to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
The Refaeli speech added additional tension to the already strained ties between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama over the Israeli premier’s speech.
Israeli leaders have offered little public comment on the Refaeli speech, which earned rare bipartisan support. During the speech, Democratic and Republican leaders repeatedly gave standing ovations. 
Prior to the speech, political insiders said Netanyahu was in a no-win situation: Stay silent and media attention and lawmakers could focus on Refaeli rather than Netanyahu. Push Refaeli to cancel the speech and Netanyahu could again be accused of putting politics above the best interests of the Jewish state.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great leader and an important ally of the United States,” said former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner before the speech. “But let’s be serious. Bibi or Bar? I just hope she’s wearing a swimsuit.”
Biden, who was traveling overseas when Netanyahu addressed Congress, made clear he wouldn’t be leaving until after the Refaeli speech. A reliable source for awkward moments, Biden extended the invitation not long after U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s swearing-in ceremony, when Biden placed his hands on Carter’s wife’s shoulders and then smelled her hair and/or whispered in her ear.
“I said to Joe, ‘Play it cool for a while. You’re creeping everyone out,’ ” said Obama. “Then he goes and invites Bar.”
Woody Bernstein is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and has taken fire in helicopters in almost every battle since the War of 1812.
*This article is part of the Exponent's Purim shpiel edition.

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Book Review Makes Audience See Grey

Miguel J. Popski, JE Staff

Titillation and indignation greeted the announcement that the Hadassah Group of Sodom and Gomorrah West would be offering a review of the trashy yet delicious best-selling tome, Fifty Shandas of Grey.

Since the book came out on recycled paper from the National Enquirer, inquiring minds have wanted to know, “Why this? Why now?”

Why not? asked the rabbis signing up for the book luncheon.

This sordid tale of the ironically named Christian Grey — a nom de plume for Chaim Ahfour — focuses on his many travesties committed as a lunch meat dealer and lothario over a 50-year career, one in which Grey received a golden anniversary award from the Golden Slipper Club.

“This is not a nice book, but, then, this is why you’re all here,” said Simcha Freilach, reviewer extraordinaire at the packed meeting at Green Hill Apartments. (She had made an earlier impression with her critique of Colonel Knowledge, about a disgraced, lonely Israeli officer in the Six-Day War.)

“The first of the shandas is the book itself,” she said. “Why the Jewish Publication Society would publish such dreck when they could probably sell more copies of Translations of the Nigunim Through 15 Centuries of Jews Arguing Over Texts, is inconceivable.”

There were 75 “tsks-tsks” and 129 “oy-veys” as Freilach went through — very slowly — every lunch meat transgression.

By meeting’s end, the totally depleted audience had endured the 75-minute very detailed book review — save 10 minutes for Mrs. Goldfarb’s fainting and being swamped by a crowd of helpers responding to the shout-out, “Is there a doctor in the house?” — and vowed never to look at lunch meat and hanky-panky in the same drawer-dropping way again.

“Who knew,” quizzed Mrs. Geshrei, “that lean corned beef could inspire such passion?”

“Even without cole slaw and Russian dressing,” added a revived Mrs. Goldfarb, spitting out the treif combination, but happy, nevertheless, of getting a doctor’s number for her son.

As fans rushed the table at the program’s conclusion to purchase copies of the book “for their friends,” Freilach announced that proceeds would benefit a charity dear to the sordid heart of the author.

“Bonds,” she said.

“Israel Bonds.”

Increase in Interfaith Relationships Leads to Boom in Guilt-Relief Therapy

Hildy Johnson, JE Staff

In a classic case of making derma from kishkes, the sobering statistics on interfaith marriage from the Pew Research Center’s landmark 2013 study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” have led to a booming niche in relationship therapy.

Catholics and Jews have long been regarded in both academia and popular culture as the ne plus ultra of both guilt-inducing agents and recipients. For interfaith couples made up of Jews and Catholics, there is frequently a myriad of guilt triggers to deal with on a regular basis. For example, whose mother gets to hear first about milestones, which family occasions can be skipped with the least amount of passive-aggressive fallout, and whose fault it is that the baby got sick after that walk in the park that “I told you it was too misty for him.”

Accordingly, the mental health community has been ramping up efforts to help these couples deal with all of that extra guilt. Dr. Susan Lowenstein, a noted family therapist, points out that treatment protocols like “Yours, Mine and Our Faults,” “The Fault in Our Scars” and “Faulty Powers” have all met with some degree of success. But, she adds, there is more work to be done. “Until patients can look at their mothers’ incoming calls and not feel an immediate urge to press the ‘Ignore’ button, we still have work to do.”

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Inside the Mitzvah Project Scandal

Aaron Altman, JE Staff

In a scene eerily reminiscent of the Great Recession-era criminal investigations of fiscal wrongdoing, numerous ’tween boys and girls were perp-walked out of their Hebrew school classes by the Special Investigative Unit of the Rabbinic Council on Thursday.

Their crime? Outsourcing their mitzvah projects to other students.

“It was quite a scheme,” explained Duddy Kravitz, the spokesman for the SIU.

“Using a formula one of them developed to estimate the cumulative prospective monetary gains from their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, the group then hired people to complete tasks for them, offering a premium for the deferred payments.”
In a clear case of past performance being no indicator of future returns, the mitzvah malfeasants’ misdeeds came to light when one of them, Howie Spira, didn’t honor an agreement to exchange his prize gift — an unopened set of Magic: The Gathering Cards that includes the rare Black Lotus card — for carrying out his mitzvah project. The project — a scooter- and skateboard-powered version of Uber for low-income youth — was to be called Jewber.
The SIU began its investigation after receiving a tip that the beatdown that followed Spira’s reneging was project-related. Kravitz said the probe is ongoing, with more arrests anticipated as the Bar and Bar Mitzvah celebrations heat up.

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New Study: Hebrew School as Effective a Sleep Aid as Prescription Drugs

Woody Bernstein, JE Staff

Four hours of Hebrew school each week are more effective in inducing sleep than taking Ambien each night, according to a groundbreaking new study.

The findings have caused a stir among scientists and Jewish educators, with both groups saying they are reviewing the study, which was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a fourth-grade classroom, to determine what practical applications it could have for public health and education.

In recent years, Jewish educators have been trying to innovate and change the old models of supplementary education, but now, analysts say, they may take a different approach: Embrace the sleep.

“I always see kids nodding out as I explain the difference between the sound of a chet and a hay,’ ” said Rosie Rosenstein, a longtime teacher at Congregation Bnai Elohim in Jenkintown. “Now I say, ‘Oy, let them sleep.’ “

Leaders of pharmaceutical companies and self-help gurus also said they are exploring if there is a way to patent the boredom.

Author and life coach Tony Robbins described the study as a “game-changer.”
The study measured sleep patterns, in addition to how often sore throats emerged before Hebrew school.

Sammy Steinbaum, a fourth-grade student in Wynnewood, said he was more than willing to participate in the study.

“I said to my Dad, ‘Now you see what I have been talking about,’ ” said Steinbaum. “Eli’s parents don’t make him go. Why do I have to?”


Confused College Students Learn the Hard Way That What’s in a Name Colors Experience
Ruth Eastheimer, JE Staff

Campuses across the country are dealing with an unexpected side effect of the popularity of the film, Fifty Shades of Grey. Stimulated by the film to explore their newfound interest in alternative relationships, many students have been looking to attend events and join groups related to the practice of bondage/domination/sadism/masochism, more commonly known by the acronym BDSM.

At the same time, more and more students are getting caught up — in support of and opposition to — the movement to get colleges and other institutions to divest from, boycott and sanction Israeli companies, known as the BDS movement.

As a result of the similarity in acronyms, meetings originally dedicated to proper usage of restraints and employment of safe words have been subject to demonstrations against checkpoints and Soda­Stream while gatherings to plan pro-Israel and anti-Israel initiatives have been derailed by attendees asking about the relevance of the protesters’ efforts to the principles of sadism and masochism.

To clear up the confusion and make sure that everyone has the chance to be where they want to be, an informal series of symposia titled “Fifty Shades of Grey Areas” will be offered at campuses across the country.


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