Sex Sells Israel & Woman Rabbi
Part II: The ‘come to Israel’ condom
By Jacob Berkman· June 8, 2009
We noted last week that the Jewish Agency was trying to promote one of its programs last week with a series of racy ads.
We noted last winter that Israel’s Ministry of Tourism was using sex to sell Israel as a destination spot.
And we joked a few months ago that Birthright NEXT, which was giving out flasks to promote itself, should perhaps consider distributing branded condoms as well.
Someone is paying attention to the Fundermentalist, because we now present to you the official “Come and visit Tel Aviv” condom, brought to you once again by Israel’s Tourism Ministry.
No. I did not make up that slogan. It is the official catchphrase for condoms that Israel gave out at a fund-raising event in London last week, according to UPI.
My favorite passage from the story:
The condoms were packed in a box used by a reputable Dead Sea cosmetics firm, used to market cosmetics, the Web site said, quoting one of the agents. "Some thought they were beauty supplies and brought them home to their wives. They were appalled when they opened the package," another official said.
On its part, Israel's Ministry of Tourism issued an apology saying it will investigate the incident. "This was an initiative contrary to our policy," the statement said. On second thought. Maybe we don't want any credit for this at all.
African-American woman ordained as rabbi in Cincinnati
By Natasha Mozgovaya
WASHINGTON - After supporting the election of the first black U.S. president, the American Jewish community is continuing to fulfill its promise of working toward change with the ordination of the first black woman rabbi. Alysa Stanton, 45, who calls herself "the new face of Judaism," was ordained Saturday, along with 14 other new Reform rabbis in Cincinnati.
Stanton is divorced and has an adopted 14-year-old daughter. She grew up in a Christian home in Cleveland, and talks about a spiritual quest that brought her to Eastern religions and various Christian denominations. However, after moving to a Jewish suburb of Cleveland with her family she began to be drawn to Judaism, and converted over 20 years ago while in college. She later studied at the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Many of her family and friends thought Stanton had "sold herself out," and were displeased with her conversion. Some even ostracized her, "but I had to learn who I was, what my values were and move forward," she says.
Trained as a psychologist, Stanton beat out a number of other candidates and was appointed rabbi of Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, N.C.; she will assume the post in August.
She is aware of the heavy responsibility of being a trailblazer and says she hopes to build bridges between cultures and communities. However, she says she also wants people to relate to her as a rabbi who also happens to be an African American - and not as an African American rabbi.
Demographic estimates show that today, some 20 percent of U.S. Jews are non-white. The topic of black Jews in America made the headlines when the media discovered that Michelle Obama, the wife of President Barack Obama, has a cousin, Capers Funnye, who is a rabbi in Chicago.
Brit Jew marries dolphin
Unusual wedding: British woman marries her beloved dolphin in Eilat ceremony - Joe Kot
Till death do us part? An unusual wedding ceremony was held in the southern resort town of Eilat on Wednesday, as Sharon Tendler, a 41-years-old Jewish millionaire from London married her beloved Cindy, a 35-years-old dolphin, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.
The groom, a resident of the Eilat dolphin reef, met Tendler 15 years ago, when she first visited the resort. The British rock concert producer took a liking to the dolphin and has made a habit of traveling to Eilat two or three times a year and spending time with her underwater sweetheart.
"The peace and tranquility underwater, and his love, would calm me down," the excited bride said after the wedding.
After a years-long romance, Tendler decided to embark on the highly unusual path of tying the knot with her beloved dolphin. Last week, she approached Cindy's trainer Maya Zilber with the extraordinary request.
Zilber accepted the challenge and "talked the idea over with the fellow," who apparently consented.
'I'm not a pervert'
And so on Wednesday afternoon, the thrilled bride, wearing a white dress, walked down the dock before hundreds of astounded visitors and kneeled down before her groom, who was waiting in the water.
Cindy, escorted by his fellow best-men dolphins, swam over to Tendler and she hugged him, whispered sweet nothings in his ear, and kissed him in front of the cheering crowd.
After the ceremony was sealed with some mackerels, Tendler was tossed into the water by her friends so that she could swim with her new husband.
"I'm the happiest girl on earth," the bride said as she chocked back tears of emotion. "I made a dream come true, and I am not a pervert," she stressed.
Tendler said she and her newly wed husband will probably spend their wedding night bowling.
"But what kind of children would they have?" one of the children in the crowd asked his father.
"Siddur" Prayer book filth
Gay synagogue’s new siddur arrives
By Ben Harris · June 2, 2009
(New York, NY) -- Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) is proud to publish Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha, (With All Your Heart), a new edition of the community’s long-standing Friday night prayer book. Created for individuals coming from a broad spectrum of Jewish practice and tradition, this siddur introduces numerous liturgical innovations that expand definitions of Jewish family and community to explicitly embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families.
“B’chol L’vav’cha publicly affirms the pride GLBT Jews possess today, and provides a message of tolerance, inclusion, and inspiration that will facilitate meaningful moments of communal and personal devotion and joy for all Jews,” said Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. “It roots itself firmly in the soil of Jewish liturgical tradition and draws creatively upon a whole variety of Jewish sources while providing a host of innovative and imaginative poems and prayers.”
With All Your Heart is a meaningful and important addition to a congregation’s liturgical collection, and is an important resource for LGBT-friendly synagogues.
Highlights of this new, inclusive prayer book include:
• Readings by American, Israeli, and Yiddish poets and by gay and feminist writers, including Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Walt Whitman, Yehuda Amichai, and Rachel the Poet;
• A broad AIDS section with writings by William Finn, Stephen Sondheim, Tony Kushner, Thom Gunn, and others;
• Prayers for coming out, for celebrating transgender experience, and a memorial prayer for Transgender Remembrance Shabbat;
• Readings by transgender and intersex members of CBST;
• An extensive LGBT Pride section, including an LGBT Pride Al Hanisim prayer;
• Prayers and readings on disability, the environment, and social justice;
• American folk anthems, such as God Bless America (written by a Jewish immigrant), America the Beautiful (by a lesbian), and Lift Every Voice and Sing (considered the African American national anthem);
• Prayers for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
• Songs, readings, and blessings in Yiddish, Ladino, Russian, and French reflecting the diversity of the Jewish world;
• The inclusion of feminine God language in Hebrew for many prayers;
• Concubines Bilhah and Zilpah included among matriarchs Rachel, Leah, and Sarah, recognizing all of our mothers, not just the “legally married ones”;
• Removing heterosexual references to God’s love for Israel in L’chah Dodi by changing kimsos hatan al kalah to kimsos lev b’ahavah.
“This siddur represents and embraces all of us in our beautiful and God-given diversity,” said the book’s editor in chief, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of New York City's Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) since 1992. “It represents a key facet of CBST’s mission of creating a kehilla kedosha, a sacred community, built on a love of the Jewish people, a passion for social justice, prayer, and study. Our hope is that this prayer book finds its way to synagogues and into homes across the nation.”
Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha, (With All Your Heart) was edited and compiled by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight Jews and is intended for Jews of every sexual orientation and gender identity. The prayer book is available for order in hardcover, as well as in a deluxe, personalized edition. A companion CD, With All Your Heart: A Musical Celebration of Shabbat at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, is also available for purchase. Those interested in placing orders may visit the CBST website, (http://cbst.org/NewSiddur.shtml).