Friday Five: Yaakov Rosenblatt, Anat Hoffman, Ehud Halevi, Jeremy Epstein, Wim dan Dijk

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt and Sarah Silverman

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Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt and Sarah Silverman

Who knew comedian Sarah Silverman’s father reads The Jewish Press? Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt‘s open letter to the comedian in last week’s issue caught Donald Silverman’s attention when Rosenblatt blamed Sarah’s sex-laced brand of comedy for her failure to marry and have kids. A response from Silverman’s father addressed to “Rabbi Idiot” — “…take your false god and shove god up your judgmental ass” — prompted so much attention that it crashed the Jewish Press website. Sarah later weighed in with this: “Oh, Dad! You’re my hero. Where do you get such moxie??”

Depending on your perspective, it was either Anat Hoffman or Israeli police who stirred up a hornet’s nest this week when Hoffman, the head of Women of the Wall, reportedly was arrested by police while praying at the Western Wall. Her crime: disturbing the public order for leading about 250 women in the Shema prayer at the holy site. Among those present were Hadassah members in town for the organization’s centennial. American Reform Jewish leaders complained to Israel’s ambassador in Washington about the episode (Hoffman is also the head of the movement’s Israel Religious Action Center), and the group called for the protection of women’s prayer groups in Israel.

He’s no Rodney King, but 21-year-old Ehud Halevi’s beating at the hands of two New York cops trying to arrest him at a Chabad facility in Brooklyn this week prompted debate in New York’s Chasidic community about police overzealousness. The beating, which was caught on camera and posted to YouTube, came after Halevi appeared to resist being handcuffed while the officers were trying to arrest him. Police said they were called to rouse the sleeping Halevi from the Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults in Crown Heights, that he was drunk and that their actions were justified. But Halevi says he had permission to sleep there and had been doing so for the past month, and that the beating was not merited.

OK, so we sat up a little when the first person to pose a question at Tuesday night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University was named Jeremy Epstein, an exercise science major at Adelphi University. And we know he’s Jewish because of how he and his sister responded to a New York Times staffer’s mockup of debate-as-bar-mitzvah-aliyah. But let’s be candid, we really shepped nachas when Epstein turned a question about getting jobs after he graduates into a bid … to get a job after he graduates. He launched a Twitter feed the day after the debate and used it to lobby for internships from journalists who called to interview him. Then his sister Kayla tagged along to his CNN appearance trying to do the same for herself.

If not for Rabbi Wim van Dijk, the names of Jews murdered in the Holocaust would have been interspersed with those of Nazi soldiers in a new Dutch monument to World War II. Van Dijk went on TV to demand the names of his relatives be removed from the monument scheduled for unveiling on Oct. 20 in Geffen, in the eastern Netherlands, if names of Wehrmacht soldiers also appeared there. The municipality, which previously had defended the monument as a sign of reconciliation, reluctantly agreed to remove all the names — Jews and Germans. “I don’t need to find reconciliation with Germans today because they are not my enemies,” van Dijk, a historian from Amsterdam and the Dutch army’s former Jewish chaplain, said in the TV interview. “As for the dead, they are beyond reconciliation now.” 


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