(New York Jewish Week) — It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and I don’t mean Christmas. Rather, it’s the season of “best-ofs,” when publications across the boroughs and from coast-to-coast share their selections for the year’s best books, music, restaurants and more.
Last week, the New York Times food critic Pete Wells published a list of the “most memorable” things he ate in the city this year, “Top 8 New York City Dishes of 2023.” They include just one dessert: the Black-and-White Seven-Layer Cake from Gertrude’s, a Jewish bistro that opened this summer in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
“Many liberties have been taken since Hungarian Jews carried the recipe for Dobos torte across the Atlantic,” Wells writes. “Gertrude’s monumental version, almost as dense and moist as pudding cake, alternates chocolate and yellow layers like piano keys.”
Black and white cookies are about to hit the mainstream in January, when Oreo releases a new version channeling the Jewish New York classic. But at Gertrude’s, the Black-and-White Seven-Layer Cake is one of three desserts on a highly curated menu designed to “push the Ashkenazi tradition,” as co-owner Nate Adler told us in August.
Other inventive, Ashkenazi-inspired items on offer include a burger that can be ordered “Reuben-style” (a beef patty topped with melted Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and sauerkraut on a challah roll), latkes and a Nicoise salad made with smoked sable.
Gertrude’s is run by the same folks behind Williamsburg’s popular Jewish diner, Gertie. Both restaurants are named after Adler’s maternal grandmother, Gertrude Aronow, a Jewish woman whom Adler describes as “a really colorful and eccentric human being who was the life of the party.”
As it happens, in September, the New York Jewish Week published its very own roundup of top Jewish dishes to eat in the city, “25 Jewish Dishes to Eat in NYC Right Now.” Gertrude’s also made our list — but not for its dessert. Rather, we selected the bistro’s Seder Plate Margarita, a unique, refreshing beverage made with Passover flavors like bitter orange, parsley and salt water, plus lime and mezcal.
Other must-try items on the New York Jewish Week’s list include a cheddar jalapeno knish from Yonah Schimmel’s and jachnun from 12 Chairs Cafe. And if you’re looking for something sweet, there’s malawach churros from Balaboosta and New York-style cheesecake from the S&S Cheesecake, a Bronx institution founded by Holocaust survivor Fred Schuster in 1960.
Wells has touted Jewish eateries in the city before: In April, he named two Jewish delis (Flatiron’s S&P Lunch and legacy Upper West Side appetizing shop Barney Greengrass) and a tiny, Israeli-owned falafel joint, Midwood’s Tanami Falafel, as three of the 100 best restaurants in the city in 2023.
The post New York Times names this Jewish dessert as one of NYC’s best dishes of 2023 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Creating a ‘Parallel Diplomatic Channel’ Between Israel and South Africa
JNS.org – As chief rabbi of South Africa, I undertook a recent diplomatic mission to Israel amidst the hostility of the South African government and a breakdown in communications between the two countries.
I met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and other senior government officials, assuring them of the support of the Jewish community and millions of non-Jews in South Africa.
The purpose of my trip was to establish a strong, parallel diplomatic channel between the people of South Africa and the Jewish state.
I conveyed a message to the government and the people of Israel on behalf of the South African Jewish community, as well as millions of our fellow citizens throughout the country. I told them that the African National Congress government does not speak in our name and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in its battle against the forces of evil.
When I met with President Herzog, Foreign Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz and Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli, I reassured them that despite the ANC government’s morally repugnant support for Hamas and Iran, most South Africans have distanced themselves from the ANC’s position. Millions of South African Christians pray for and support Israel. Israel has many allies and friends here in South Africa who are ashamed of their government’s support for terrorist regimes and despots. Moreover, the ANC’s support has sunk to 40% and is still falling.
I sought to tell the government and people of Israel that the bond between the Jews of South Africa and Israel can never be broken, no matter what the ANC does.
As Jews, we speak the name of Jerusalem at every funeral, saying a special blessing to mourners: “May the Almighty comfort you amongst all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” At every wedding, we recite the immortal verse, “If I ever forget thee, O Jerusalem.” Three times a day in our prayers, we pray for the redemption of Israel and Jerusalem. When we pray, we face in the direction of Jerusalem.
Zionism is an essential part of our Jewish identity. It’s part of our soul. Our connection to Israel began almost 4,000 years ago when God spoke to Abraham at the dawn of Jewish history. As a nation, we have maintained an unbroken presence in the land for more than 3,300 years—since the time of Joshua. Our connection to our land is older than that of any people on earth. Our bond with Israel is unbreakable.
Going forward, great efforts will be invested in building this informal diplomatic channel between Israel and South Africa until such time as a sound official diplomatic relationship can be re-established. I undertake this task for the sake of our Jewish community, but also for the sake of South Africa, which will only benefit from a closer bond with the only democracy in the Middle East.
In numerous areas of life in which the South African government has failed its people, citizens have stood up and come forward to make a difference. Here, too, with the country’s connection to Israel under threat, we must come forward, speak up and reinforce our connection with Israel. Those who can should visit to express solidarity.
The current foreign policy of the ANC government, which associates our country with the world’s worst terrorist states and tyrants, is not in the interests of the South African people. South Africa can benefit greatly from Israel’s innovation, people, technology and economy. Most of all, it can benefit from the Divine blessings that flow into South Africa from Israel: The promise made to Abraham that those who bless Israel will be blessed.
In our time, we have witnessed these Divine promises fulfilled. After 2,000 years of exile—no nation on earth has ever survived such a protracted exile—we returned to our biblical homeland.
Just as promised in the book of Deuteronomy: “Then G-d will gather you in from all the nations. … If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there the L-rd your G-d will gather you in and from there He will take you … and bring you to the Land that your forefather possessed and you shall possess it.”
Our bond with Israel, forged in exile and sanctified by Divine promise, will never be broken. Am Yisrael Chai.
The post Creating a ‘Parallel Diplomatic Channel’ Between Israel and South Africa first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Meet the Ethnic-Studies Antisemites
JNS.org – That the American educational system is thoroughly polluted with antisemitism has been obvious to many of us for some time. It became clear to all, however, after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, when thousands of academics, students, teachers, administrators, and other denizens of the dictatorship of the professoriate erupted in full-throated celebration of the mass slaughter and rape of over 1,000 people.
What followed is well-known and even somewhat encouraging, given that—with the toppling of two university presidents who proved ambivalent about killing all the Jews—the professoriate is finally being held responsible for its atrocities for the first time in decades.
The problem, however, goes well beyond the universities. This, along with much else, was proven last week by The New York Times, which usually does its best to run interference for antisemitism.
The Times appears to have realized, somewhat late in the game, that “ethnic studies” programs in California high schools have a serious problem with antisemitism. Of course, a group of dedicated activists and skeptical politicians fought to revise the state’s ethnic studies curriculum for the better part of a decade, and with very good reason. The Times report, however, was prompted by the pushback they are now facing from a self-congratulatorily named “liberated ethnic studies” that restores the antisemitic material.
Like all such curricula, California ethnic studies is essentially an attempt to institutionalize a Manichean theology. The ancient Manicheans viewed the world as a battle between two metaphysical forces: Light and good versus darkness and evil. The new Manicheans’ theology is political in expression, but not a great deal more complicated. It holds that the world is a battleground between light and good in the form of the “oppressed” (usually people of color) and darkness and evil in the form of the “oppressor” (usually but not always white people).
Like many religious sentiments, this cult’s theology is unfalsifiable and thus impossible to prove or disprove. Two things, however, can be said with some certainty: 1) It is obviously inadequate as an account of the world in which we live, and 2) It is self-evidently racist.
Unsurprisingly, it is also bitterly antisemitic. In all its forms, this theology places the Jews firmly in the category of “oppressor.” In other words, it sees the Jews as a manifestation of metaphysical evil—quite literally satanic. If viewing the Jews as satanic is not antisemitism, then nothing is antisemitism.
None of this is surprising to critics of the proposed curriculum. But we should be grateful for the Times’ report because it provides us with some formidable evidence for the prosecution.
Given its proclivities, the Times probably did not wish to provide such evidence, but it had no choice because the antisemites appear to have been quite eager to give it to them.
The Times presents us, for example, with Guadalupe Cardona, a teacher of ethnic studies at a Los Angeles high school, who helpfully volunteers on the Israel-Hamas war: “If someone is going to teach that conflict from a true ethnic studies perspective, it’s going to be critiquing settler colonialism in Palestine.”
For his part, Professor Dylan Rodriguez firmly rejects giving equal time to Jewish perspectives on the conflict because “It creates false equivalences.” The Times states, “He then asked if creationism should be covered in biology classes, or climate change denialism in environmental science,” as if he were teaching a STEM course rather than a religious creed.
These are the least of the defamations chronicled by the Times. In one of many such examples, the paper tells us that “In November, several weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, an ethnic studies teacher at Menlo-Atherton High School, in Silicon Valley, presented a lesson that inaccurately claimed the United Nations considered the creation of Israel illegal.”
That is lies enough for one class, even in California, but during the lesson “a slide depicted a hand manipulating a puppet,” which even the Times was forced to admit recalls “antisemitic tropes about secret Jewish control of government, the media and finance.”
One might wonder, of course, why this kind of hate speech is not only tolerated but literally institutionalized in California high schools. The Times, helpfully if inadvertently, supplies the answer:
Ethnic studies grew out of student activism at Bay Area colleges in the late 1960s, when Black, Latino, Asian and Native American students went on strike to demand more focus on their groups’ histories and cultures.
Some activists were part of the Third World Liberation Front, a student group that linked racial segregation and discrimination in the United States to colonialism, imperialism and militarism across the globe.
For early scholars and students of ethnic studies, pro-Palestinian activism was also crucial, said Keith Feldman, chair of comparative ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
Whether the Times realized it or not—and it probably did not—this is the most powerful indictment of the ethnic studies movement as can be imagined. It provides firm historical proof that ethnic studies is not education. It is a political movement and a distinctly nasty one at that. Indeed, it appears that, on the issue of Israel and the Jews, it is nothing more than Palestinian nationalism dressed up as a kind of altruistic universalism.
This is of immense importance because while some nationalisms are liberal, democratic, and progressive, Palestinian nationalism is not. It is uncompromisingly reactionary, bigoted, tyrannical, revanchist, racist, and ultimately genocidal.
After the events of the last four months, no further evidence of this is required, not even from the Times. Thanks to Hamas, we now have definitive and absolute proof of it. Thanks to Hamas’s supporters in the West, we have equally definitive proof that the progressive left—the fountainhead of “ethnic studies”—supports this toxic nationalism with every fiber of its being and is willing to justify, excuse, and commit any atrocity necessary to further its ambitions.
What this means is quite simple: Palestinian nationalism and its supporters, whoever and wherever they may be—even in California high schools—have no place in the public discourse of any decent society. Their movement is fundamentally illegitimate. In a free society, of course, it must be allowed to exist, so long as it puts an end to its criminal activities. But it should be shunned, ostracized, and relegated to the far corners of the dark web and easily surveilled gated compounds in the Midwest.
At the moment, however, a generation of American children is being threatened by unscrupulous cultists who are determined to pound their ideology into the minds of those children at any cost. No sane society should allow such people anywhere near a classroom, but systemic hate cannot be ended overnight. In the meantime, the cultists should not be permitted to poison the hearts of thousands of students by teaching them that people who hate and kill Jews are the children of light.
Murder in the Gulag
JNS.org – While Tucker Carlson was marveling over the opulence of Moscow’s subways, Alexei Navalny died in the “Polar Wolf” prison camp in northern Siberia.
Navalny was Russia’s most prominent dissident, the only serious opponent to Vladimir Putin who, for more than 20 years, has held this vast and troubled land in a tightening stranglehold.
Navalny’s supporters called him the “hero of the new era.” That era is now, at best, very far off.
Earlier this month, Carlson conducted a two-hour interview with Putin. What did the Russian strongman have to say about the charismatic rival he incarcerated 40 miles above the Arctic Circle in the sunless winter?
Not a word, because Carlson—formerly a Fox News talk show host, now an idiosyncratic commentator on X, formerly Twitter—didn’t bother to ask.
To paraphrase a quote attributed to Stalin: A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths are a statistic.
The number of deaths for which Putin is responsible, already in the hundreds of thousands, could soon reach that mark. His forces re-invaded Ukraine two years ago this week, having first invaded in 2014.
His generals deliberately target civilians. Many of his troops are conscripted from the ethnic groups of Russia’s Central Asian possessions. He uses them as cannon fodder.
The grim statistics of the war against Ukraine do not appear to trouble Carlson.
Following his amicable interview with Putin, he filmed himself touring a Moscow subway station (where, like Bernie Sanders on his 1988 honeymoon, he was wowed by the chandeliers) and shopping at a Moscow grocery store where, he said in wide-eyed wonderment, a family of four can buy enough food for a week for only $104!
Apologies for the digression ahead but I think Navalny would have wanted you to know the facts about Putin’s Russia.
The average monthly wage for a Russian is less than $800. The average monthly wage for an American is more than six times that. Average Russians spend more than 50% of what they earn on food. Average Americans spend less than 12%.
Are grocery stores in the boondocks—say in Grozny or Irkutsk—as well-stocked as those in the capital? Carlson did not investigate. (But I bet you can guess the answer.)
Inquiring minds also might want to know that one in five households in Russia lacks indoor plumbing. In rural areas the ratio is two out of three.
And a smidgen of history: Stalin built Moscow’s subways in the 1930s to glorify Russia’s socialist dictatorship. He used slave labor from the Gulag, his archipelago of prison camps, and British engineers, some of whom he later imprisoned for “espionage.”
In this same period, Stalin manufactured a famine in Ukraine to punish “kulaks,” farmers resisting collectivization. In the Holodomor, as it became known, more than four million men, women and children perished.
Does this atrocity help explain why Ukrainians are adamant that never again will they be ruled by Moscow? That’s another question Carlson did not raise.
Littering in a Moscow subway may be strictly verboten, but with impunity have Putin and his cronies appropriated Russia’s natural resources, thereby making themselves spectacularly rich.
This corruption was one of Navalny’s major themes. The “party of swindlers and thieves,” he called the Kremlin cabal.
He opposed Putin’s war against Ukraine, and his strengthening alliance with the anti-American dictators in Beijing, Tehran and Pyongyang.
The son of a Red Army officer, Navalny entered politics around the time Putin was rising to power.
In 2013 he unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Moscow. In 2018, he attempted to run for president. Putin had him thrown in jail and then disqualified his candidacy based on his criminal record.
In August 2020, shortly after boarding a domestic flight, Navalny became ill. Poisoning by Putin’s agents was suspected.
In a comatose state, Navalny was flown to Berlin, where German doctors determined that he had been exposed to Novichok, a Soviet-era, military-grade nerve agent not available in Russian pharmacies.
He was treated, he recovered, and, in January 2021, he returned to Russia where, upon arrival, he was promptly arrested.
Why did he come back? Because he was a man of unfathomable courage and conviction. The fight for a new Russia was his life’s work.
“I don’t have another country,” he once said. “I have nowhere to retreat to.”
He also was confident that, working through his lawyers and allies, he could continue his struggle against the dictatorship in ways not possible from exile abroad.
Last Thursday, a video of Navalny in a courtroom was posted on X. He appeared to be in good health and even good spirits. He was 47 years old.
On Friday, Russian prison authorities announced: “The inmate A.A. Navalny started to feel unwell after a walk and almost immediately lost consciousness at correctional facility No. 3 on Feb. 16. Medical staff arrived immediately, an ambulance was called. None of the resuscitation efforts yielded positive results.”
“He was murdered,” Bill Browder, once the most important foreign investor in Russia, told a reporter. “He was murdered at the hands of Vladimir Putin” who wanted to demonstrate that he “can cross every red line and get away with it.”
There are other red lines—in Ukraine, in Europe and beyond. So long as Putin continues to get away with murders at home and abroad, he will cross them.
Tucker Carlson is among those who doesn’t see that as an American problem. That demonstrates an astonishing lack of awareness.