Tablet is a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture. Launched in June 2009, it’s a project of the not-for-profit Nextbook Inc., which also produces the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters book series. Our archive holds all the articles and features that originally appeared on the website Nextbook.org.

A New Read on Jewish Life
Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 3:04pm

The firing of Wall Street Journal correspondent Jay Solomon is the rare media story with potential real-world consequences. As the Associated Press reported this week, one of Solomons sources, an Iranian-American businessman (and sometimes-CIA gun-runner) named Farhad Azima, had offered the journalist a 10 percent stake in an inevitably-failed defense and intelligence-related business venture. The AP found incriminating text messages and emails in the course of reporting out an investigative profile of Azima, who had a hand in the Iran-Contra scandal and who is now being investigated in multiple countries for a hotel kickback scheme allegedly involving Iranian nationals who were under U.S. sanctions. WSJ promptly fired Solomon on Wednesday.

Its ironic that Solomons career was derailed over a possible business deal with someone who was himself allegedly in business with sanctions-busting Iranians. Among straight-news reporters, the Iranian government had fewer obstacles bigger than Solomon, who had a hand in breaking nearly every major Iran-related story of recent years. Last year, he broke news of the Obama administrations secret $400 million cash transfer to Iran, part of a quid-pro-quo that freed four American prisoners that the regime had been holding. Solomon was deeply sourced in Asia, Washington, and the Middle East, and reported extensively on the relationship between North Koreas nuclear and ballistic missile programs and Irans. His 2016 book, The Iran Wars, is one of the definitive accounts of Obama-era U.S. policy toward the country and was widely read as being critical of the former presidents approach.

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Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 3:04pm

The word melech means king in Hebrew, but theres nothing too precious or pompous about Melech Zilbershlag, a 20-year-old, kippah-clad Israeli who’s quickly becoming a Hebrew-language YouTube sensation. His fast-talking yet eloquent demeanor is helping to bridge the gap of understanding between Orthodox and the secular cultures in his country.

Zilbershlag’s videos, which typically run about two minutes long, are published by Kan 11, the newly established Israeli Public Broadcasting Corp., which recruited Zilbershlag as new talent. In them, Zilbershalg refers to taking selfies and using Tinder, a dating app typically affiliated with hook-ups, as easily as he talks about Passover-friendly foods. He touches upon many topics often unspoken of in the Orthodox society, like romance (and Tinder, for that matter) and celebrating Independence Day (many Orthodox Jews do not identify with this secular holiday). He also doesnt shy away from clichés or stereotypes about the Orthodox community, which he quicklyand charminglydismantles. Other topics include: the Orthodox “dress code” and how to create a WhatsApp or a Snapchat story, exclusively in Yiddish.

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Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 1:59pm

Millions: Migrants and Millionaires Aboard the Great Liners, a new exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum, compares the journeys of immigrants and millionaires cruising into New York Harbor at the turn of the century. Its a smart idea for a showthe timing, of course, could not be more apt, given the swelling national discussion around immigrationand it offers a glimpse into the real lives of Titanics Jack and Rose who in real life, of course, would never have met. The exhibit spotlights just how separate the lives of Third Class and First Class passengers really were.

Nearly 13 million immigrants traveling in Third Class came into the United States between 1900 and 1914, the show notes. At the same time, around 150,000 of Americas one-percenters went to Europe and back in First Class; they spent over $11.5 billion (in 2017 dollars) on their Grand Tours. A journey of two different classes, two different worlds, but a journey made together on the great ocean liners of the North Atlantic, the text poetically notes. New York was the epicenter of it all. Seventy-five percent of immigrants and 86 percent of American First-Class trans-Atlantic travelers traveled via the Port of New York.

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Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 1:44pm

June is a great opportunity to celebrate Pride, but the gay rights movement cannot be contained to just one month. There are a number of other events throughout the year, like Bisexual Awareness Week in September, National Coming Out Day in October, and the student-led Day of Silence in April, intended to address the bullying of LGBT students. Similarly, Tablet covers the experiences of LGBT Jews, and issues affecting the community, year-round. Today, for example, in Isaac Levy’s “Transgender and Jewish” personal essay, he writes about how relationship with Judaism changed while transitioning physically from female to male.

Heres a collection of Tablet pieces published by Jewish members of the LGBT community, and also features about Jewish LGBT organizations:

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Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 10:48am

As a patriotic Israeli expatriate of noble proportions, I have reacted to reports of my native cuisines moment as the darling of New Yorks sanguinolent restaurant scene with pangs of pride and hunger. I was familiar, of course, with the fields luminaries, patricians of the pita like Einat Admony and Meir Adoni and the saintly Michael Solomonov, but seeing my homeland cuisine described in terms usually reserved for multilateral peace talks sponsored by the European Unioncomplex, contentious, and actually Palestinian, is how a recent New York Magazine article described itI decided it was time to go eating. With a dear friend by my side, I zoomed, like a mad and ravenous Colonel Kurtz, up the river to Brooklyn, to see what familiar flavors tasted like far from the source.

Where we ended up eating isnt important. Theres no point lingering on the inanities that gum up the usual restaurant reviews, quibbling about textures or aromas or other terms technocrats make up when they cant feel a thing. Whats important is what we learned as we bit into one dish after another, which is that Israeli cuisine in New York, with a few shimmering exceptions, is an embarrassment precisely because it makes no effort to be Israeli at all.

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Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 12:00am