Friday Five: Mark Fields, Honey Boo Boo, Guy Pnini, Rolando Matalon, Martin Bryand

Mark Fields became the chief operating officer of the Ford Motor Company on Dec. 1 (Courtesy Ford/Graphics by Uri Fintzy)

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Mark Fields became the chief operating officer of the Ford Motor Company on Dec. 1 (Courtesy Ford/Graphics by Uri Fintzy)

Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism was so deep and widely recognized that the hire of a Jew in a senior position at the company Ford founded is being hailed as a milestone. Mark Fields became the chief operating officer of the Ford Motor Company on Dec. 1. A New Jersey native and graduate of Rutgers and Harvard, Fields is only the second Jew to hold a senior management position at Ford and is seen as the heir apparent when the current CEO steps down in 2014.

It wasn’t Israel’s finest stretch, what with the recent U.N. vote for the Palestinians, Stevie Wonder bailing on a Friends of IDF benefit and even a “Sesame Street” actress piling on. But relief came from an unlikely source: Honey Boo Boo. An Israeli fan wrote the child reality TV star to say how much pleasure she brought to Israelis during the recent Gaza conflict with her show. Boo Boo responded by taking a photo of herself with the letter and an inflatable hammer emblazoned with an Israeli flag and posting it to Facebook. Cheers to Boo!

Israelis are understandably sensitive to having the term “Nazi” casually hurled around as an insult. So it’s probably not surprising that after Maccabi Tel Aviv captain Guy Pnini was caught on camera calling a rival player a Nazi, he was subjected to swift punishment: a $26,000 fine, indefinite suspension and his removal as the hoop squad’s captain. Pnini’s rant was directed against Jonathan Skjodebrand, a blond Israeli of Swedish descent. Pnini later apologized. “I’m ashamed of myself and of the way I acted,” he said.

Rolando Matalon’s cheer for Palestine

It’s not often a synagogue’s weekly email becomes a front-page story in The New York Times. But B’nai Jeshurun isn’t just any synagogue, and its rabbi’s message was anything but routine. Along with his clerical colleagues at the Manhattan shul, Rolando Matalon issued a full-throated endorsement of the recent U.N. vote to upgrade Palestine’s status. Not all his constituents were pleased, and Matalon subsequently said the email was sent out in error and expressed regret for its triumphant tone. In a message co-signed by the synagogue’s two other rabbis, however, Matalon stood his ground on the substance. “Although we recognize that not all are in agreement with our views, we trust that we will find a way to live with our differences, challenging as that may sometimes be,” the rabbis wrote.

Martin Bryand believes there’s no problem with his Swedish art gallery’s decision to exhibit a painting that uses ashes from Holocaust victims. Artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff, who reportedly admitted to having stolen the ashes from the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland, mixed them with water to create the work, which is included in the Lund exhibition due to open on Dec. 15. The decision prompted howls of outrage; the Majdanek museum charged that there was no way the ashes were legally obtained. But Bryand is unperturbed, telling a radio station that he “sees no moral problam or flaw” with the exhibition.

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Adam Soclof writes for the JTA Archive Blog. “Like” the JTA Archive on Facebook and follow @JTAarchive on Twitter.

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