Archives for category: New Voices

New Voices 2.20.14 Figure skating to Schindler's List

If Lipnitskaia’s performance is inappropriate, then anything other than straightforward facts about the Holocaust, according to these commentators, should be forbidden.

If art is meant to force its viewers to struggle with complex emotions, what is the difference between Spielberg’s use of Schindler’s List to make money and Lipnitskaia’s use of the movie’s theme to win points? Would these same commentators condemn Everything is Illuminated, a Holocaust movie that also contains some of the most brilliant comedy I’ve ever seen? Should libraries pull Phillip Roth’s Plot Against America off the shelves for altering the history of the Holocaust? Should Ballet Austin have shut down Light, a ballet that showcased the beauty of humanity and its suffering during the Holocaust? Should American University, my school, have shut down a children’s musical about the Holocaust (of which I was a cast member) because it originally had a song about cheese?

When did political correctness force us to lose our humanity, our ability to recognize art for what it is: defiance of people like the Nazis who preferred a world of hatred and death?

Read the rest of my take at New Voices. 

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In the ongoing mini-saga in responses to my piece comparing my experience as a Jew in Costa Rica and in Israel, University of Chicago student Jonathan Katz wrote this piece for New Voices, where my op-ed originally ran.

I was not the biggest fan of my colleague’s piece. I found the approach to be too broad-stroke, and I myself cringed at the description of San José. Admittedly, Cohen could have been more charitable. But I also found his piece to be honest, which I thought was important and refreshing.

But the response was unwarranted, cruel, and in some ways anti-Semitic. And in it, there is something interesting to examine: Underlying all of it is a subconscious narrative that, because Costa Rica has gone through certain activities to connote acceptance of Jews, Jews should then simply be happy with whatever experience happens in Costa Rica. Without critique.

If you read my piece for New Voices comparing my experience as a Jew in Costa Rica and Israel, you weren’t the only one.

A number of bloggers read it as well and were not impressed. Some of it reached near libel and/or anti-Semitism. Read the responses for yourself. 

The home page of New Voices featuring the my blog post.

The home page of New Voices featuring the my blog post.

Shortly after my blog post went live, the Costa Rica Star responded (I think?) and confirmed my critique of their earlier article about me (I think?).

Screenshot of my story on the New Voices home page

It was hard being Jewish. There were no Shabbat dinners or daily prayers in my life, so I felt Jewish a grand total of three times in Costa Rica. I had to seek out spiritual enlightenment, and that usually only happened within the walls of the synagogue.

That stood in stark contrast to Israel, where being Jewish was pervasive and, by extension, easy. Everything around our hotel on the Kinerret closed on Shabbat, forcing time for reflection and relaxation. Kosher food is bountiful. Hebrew is omnipresent.

But I felt just as Jewish at services at B’nei Israel as I did when I was surrounded by it in Israel. 10 hours in a shul in Latin America was as spiritually fulfilling as 10 days in the Holy Land.

Read the rest of my reflection on my travels at New Voices.

New Voices 9.18.13

WASHINGTON – When Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn told his former congregants that he was opening a medicinal marijuana dispensary, they were nothing but supportive.

“The cannabis plant was created by God on the second day of creation when God created all the other plants, and touching this one isn’t forbidden,” Jeff said in a June interview.

Read the rest of the story here.

This was a really fun article to write. Jeff and Stephanie were absolutely phenomenal, and they’ve really got a great story to tell. I wouldn’t have put in the time and effort into this piece that I did if I didn’t believe that.

I interviewed them in June but didn’t get a chance to hand it into the editor before I went to Costa Rica. There was a transition between New Voices editors (welcome, Derek Kwait! My old boss, David A.M.  Wilensky, is off to bigger and better things at the Jewish Outreach Institute), so I ended up publishing the piece here, and it was one of the more popular posts I’ve ever published on this website.

I’m glad I now get to share it with the New Voices audience, whom I haven’t written for in well over a year.

If you’d also like to publish this story, please contact me.

UPDATE Sept. 25 12:04 p.m. MT: ABC News’ Susan D. James quoted the story:

“The cannabis plant was created by God on the second day of creation when God created all the other plants, and touching this one isn’t forbidden,” Kahn said in a June interview with New Voices, a national magazine for Jewish college students.