W hen you think unusual and extravagant holiday gifts, the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalogue automatically comes to mind. In conjunction with the publication of the retailer’s commemorative book, “Over the Top: Fifty Years of Fantasy Gifts from the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book,” JInsider asked comedian Marvin Silbermintz to compile a list of essential fantasy gifts for Chanukah.
Why is it so difficult for our male leaders to just admit to their mistakes and publicly apologize? The news media reminds of this character flaw on a 24/7 basis. On his book tour, George Bush refuses to acknowledge his grave error about Iraq’s not having WMDs; Barack Obama can’t bring himself to admit that he has failed to live up to commitments to voters; Keith Obermann, in trouble for conflict-of-interest political contributions, can’t simply say “I’m sorry. I screwed up.”
A hot Wall Street concept and media buzzword these days is the “Black Swan Theory” developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. According to Taleb, almost all major scientific discoveries, artistic accomplishments and historically significant events are “black swans” — undirected and unpredicted. The Internet, the personal computer, World War I and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks are examples he gives of Black Swan events.
Last week was a big week for Jon Stewart: He held a mock rally on the Washington Mall and interviewed President Barack Obama. Stewart could be one of the most influential — and at times one of the most controversial — Jewish personalities in the media. He is an “equal opportunity” satirist whose popular fake news show and best-selling books use humor in a thoughtful and provocative manner. “Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race” (Grand Central Publications), Stewart’s newest book, is no exception.
We hear great buzz about the Jewish camp experience, so to get the scoop on the summer of 5770 we traveled to the front lines for reports from two campers, a communal organization and a significant funder. JInsider directs major kudos to the Foundation for Jewish Camps (FJC), which supports these activities.
Kabbalah – the ancient study of Jewish mysticism – continues to be one of the spiritual movements du jour in Hollywood and around the world. If you are interested in exploring why Kabbalah is relevant today, you should attend one of the lectures by world-renowned author and lecturer Dan Matt when he makes a rare visit to NYC on Halloween Weekend (10/29 - 10/31). To experience Matt’s thoughtful wisdom, below are highlights from an interview with him about various teachable moments from the Kabbalah.
Zeitgeist is “the spirit of the times,” a sense of the direction and mood of an era. Tina Brown, premiere commentator and editor, reflected last week on the current state of America’s Zeitgeist and what we want to read and consume:
Flying high from the joyful celebration of Simchat Torah, JInsider is weary of potential letdown as we start yet another annual Torah cycle. As an antidote to post-Simchat Torah withdrawal, we asked Rabbi Eli Kaunfer to highlight the value of Torah study in everyday life. The always-cerebral Rabbi Kaunfer excerpted his popular new book “Empowered Judaism” (Jewish Lights) as the remedy. Tell us what you think or offer your own advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of our final 5770 reflection, JInsider wanted to weigh in on what created the most buzz in the Jewish community. Here is our first annual list of most popular stuff (as reported by those in the know). Tell us what you like or what should be included at email@example.com.
During 5771 JInsider will commemorate the legacy of one of the most important scholars of our generation, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Rabbi Kaplan’s clear, coherent and meaningful teachings and his 60-plus books have been regarded as a significant factor in helping make Judaism relevant. To showcase this wide body of knowledge, we will launch a dedicated website (aryehkaplan.org) and co-sponsor learning events with Rabbi Naftali Citron of the Carlebach Shul and the JCC in Manhattan.