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“Radical centrism” and the Jewish community

Does hyper-polarized America need a new “radical centrism” to get us past the stale ideologies of both right and left and the resulting national paralysis?

Speaking Frankly, About Anne

Though it only got a brief mention in today's New York Times, the attacks on a soon-to-be-published novel about Anne Frank have received considerable more play in England.  The Sunday Times of London broke--or rather, made--the news when it got Gillian Walnes, a member of the Anne Frank Trust, to publicly criticize Sharon Dogar's upcoming Anne Frank-inspired novel.  Walnes took issue with a section in the book, to be titled "Annexed," where Peter van Pels, a boy in the attic who Anne lived with, expresses romantic feelings for Anne. "I don't understand why this story has to be sexualised," Walnes told London's Sunday Times.

It looks like this latest kerfuffle will take its place in the long list of woes surrounding Anne Frank's legacy. It's worth remembering that Frank's diary, published by her father Otto, in 1947, two years after his 15-year-old daughter died in Bergen-Belsen, has always attracted controversy.  In last year's "Anne Frank: The Book, The Life and the Afterlife," Francine Prose showed how even Otto tried to sanitize Anne's writing, cutting out the parts where Anne belittled her mother or talked about her period.

There's a Kosher App for That

As someone who not only keeps kosher, but also works as a mashgiach (kosher supervisor), I often find myself away from the computer and searching for kosher food options. There are two good iPhone apps that help users locate the closest kosher options, whether it's a box of cereal or an Italian restaurant you're looking for .

RustyBrick's kosher app links to the largest kosher database on the web at the Shamash site. With over 2,000 restaurants in the database, the Jewish Kosher App for the iPhone or iPod Touch looks up the nearest kosher place to eat from your current location, using the iPhone's GPS features. (If GPS or localization isn't on or available, a location or name can be typed in.) Additionally, a kosher symbols database is available to quickly look up what kosher symbols are backed by which organizations or rabbi. As a bonus feature, all of the food blessings and prayers in Hebrew are included in this app so one can give proper thanks before and following the meal.

Another new iPhone app to help the kosher eater locate food is called My Grocery Master. It allows users to browse and search a database of over 100,000 Kosher, gluten-free and lactose-free items across the United States, meeting the user’s lifestyle and dietary requirements. Created by Nosh Maven LLC, My Grocery Master enables people following kosher diets to find acceptable food near their location.

 

New Apps Locate Kosher Fare

Treif Steak Knives For The Hubby

 I grew up in an uber-secular home where pork chops and shrimp were served regularly, but for a brief period I toyed with the idea of keeping a kosher kitchen.

That fell by the wayside. Now the only dietary law I uphold in the house is that no shellfish can be cooked on Shabbat. (Send on the outraged comments, I’m ready for them!)

Obama's big headache: Afghanistan, not Israel

To listen to Jewish bloggers and pundits, you'd think President Obama's Middle East policy and his chilly relations with Israel will be his biggest foreign policy headache when he faces voters in 2012.

Well, maybe it'll be a big problem with a small minority of a small minority, but nothing like the problem he could face if the Afghanistan war is still going on – and if he's still clueless about how to fix the problem.

The Joys of Marriage or How to Scare a Single Gal to Death

We were discussing my favorite topic: Bad breath.

I mean, people! Are you aware of just how many folks there are walking around with stink emanating from their mouths like fire from a dragon? Ick Dot Com! It’s enough to make me want to wear one of those masks people in Asia sport when they have a cold. Only mine would be a stink-deflector mask. Has anyone invented this yet?

As I was saying, I was relaying to some friends a very scholarly story of how another friend works with an anorexic woman whose breath, she reported back to me, smells just awful on account of the fact that she never eats.

“And she’s married, too!” I told the ladies present, both married themselves. “I mean, doesn’t her husband say to her, ‘Damn, woman! You’ve got some stanky breath!”

“But married people don’t kiss,” said one, rather too matter of factly for my taste.

“Married people don’t kiss???””

Making Waves For Gilad Shalit

On Thursday, a small "flotilla" of boats will make their way down the Hudson River and up the East River to the U.N. to call attention to the plight of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier imprisoned by Hamas for what will soon be four years. What's the point, some people will ask. Is this the best way to help?

The Lost Book of Bielski

Posthumous books are all the rage these days, but here's one that's bound to make waves soon.  An unpublished memoir by Tuvia Bielski, the leader of the Bieslki partisans, which saved 1,200 Jews in the Polish woods during the Holocaust, and was the subject of last year's film Defiance, has just been found.  According to a story published in The Jerusa

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