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Revamping Jewish Cultural Stereotypes–Through Food!

Just as Jewish culture isn’t all about black hats and beards, and Jewish humor isn’t all about guilt and your mother, stereotypical Jewish foods such as bagels, matzah balls, and gefilte fish may soon have to share the plate with lesser-known Jewish delicacies hailing from the traditions of Bukharian Jews from Central Asia.

Thanks to a recent New York Times article touting the flavor of the Bukharians living in and around Queens, N.Y., chebureks and kebabs–savory deep fried pies and hunks of crisp lamb fat–get their chance to shine as Jewish food with a culinary conscience.

I came to know the Bukharian culture through my first boyfriend, the child of Russian-speaking Jewish parents living in the Queens neighborhood Forest Hills. His character was spicy and pungent, just like the dishes his mom prepared when I met her for the first time. I was thrilled to have landed a Heeb who didn’t seem, well, the stereotypical bagels-and-lox Jew. But it was always a challenge to explain to friends–Jewish and non-Jewish alike–that even though he had dark skin and listened to music with Arabic-inflections, he was in fact a member of The Tribe. I would tell them he was Bukharian. What? BUK-HAR-IAN.

They didn’t get it at the time, but if the Times article is anything of an indication that the world is ready to broaden its image of Jewish culture, let’s pick up our forks and do so one bite at a time.

Cumin-scented pilaf of rice anyone? Yes, please.

Pat Robertson’s Perplexing Protein Pancakes

posted by jmcgee

It may be old news, but in light of his recent statement regarding the health of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Pat Robertson’s moral compass is an open target for scrutiny.

Although not as attention-grabbing as his verbal forays into the world of public embarrassment, Pat Robertson’s August 2001 introduction of a recipe for “Pat’s Age-Defying Shake” raised some eyebrows—and some questions. For someone so ready and willing to express the word of God by spinning Scripture into something of an admonishment for the world, Robertson, it seems, is just asking for a taste of his own medicine.

Touting his concoctions’ curative properties, Robertson offers two recipes for time-halting foodstuffs on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s website: one for “Pat Robertson’s Age-Defying Shake,” and another for “Pat’s Age-Defying Protein Pancakes.” The instructions for self-manufacture of these miracle products are available for free after registration. Although this may offer the illusion of legitimacy, it is perhaps the “age-defying” property of these foods that calls for further examination. Does it not defy God to pursue the vanity of youth? Is it not God’s will that you should age gracefully, on His terms? It seems Pat Robertson has failed to consider one of the most ignored of the seven deadly sins, the sin of pride.

Even more provocative is the televangelist’s turn as entrepreneur; a similar product he developed for weight loss has become a readymade vehicle for profit. In a deal with national health and nutrition chain GNC, Robertson is marketing “Pat’s Diet Shake” in two flavors: classic chocolate and its milder counterpart, vanilla. Although there is no co-branding with his nonprofit endeavors evident on the label or in its marketing, the use of his name, a moniker synonymous with “The 700 Club” and the Christian Broadcasting Network, is as easily identifiable as, say, “Atkins” or “The Zone.” So even though Mr. Robertson has the freedom to explore business ventures outside the confines of his media empire, profiting off his already well-publicized personality is neither a righteous nor an ethically sound means of adding money to his coffer.

My Baby, My Moses

posted by burb

Naveen Andrews, who plays the Iraqi character Sayid on “Lost,” recently admittedly that he had impregnated a woman—pardon, “fathered a love child”—while on hiatus from his longtime girlfriend Barbara Hershey. Unfortunately, that news preempted a bunch of more interesting tidbits from the British actor, which had appeared in a Gannett interview just days before the fathering bombshell.

Andrews–who wears a cross, calls his mother a “Christian maniac,” and believes “there are many ways to God”–will appear as Egyptian prince Menerith in a version of “The Ten Commandments” coming to ABC this Spring. On the list of things Andrews won’t be saying again once network publicists get to him is this observation: “Our Moses is portrayed as a nut case.” Also: “God basically orders genocide in the name of ‘you do what I tell you.’ In this sense, the miniseries, he says, “is a study of dogma” and the dangers of fundamentalism. (Lest you think the film set was all furrowed brows and deep thoughts, Andrews admits in another interview, that the actors had a hard time shaking off the feeling that they were in a remake of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.”)

George Costanza’s Ten Commandments for “Working Hard”

posted by donna freitas

Apparently, good old George from “Seinfeld” has his own version of the Top Ten things We Shall and Shall Not do. This was forwarded to me by a friend:

1. Never walk without a document in your hands: People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they’re heading for the cafeteria. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they’re heading for the toilet. Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do.

2. Use computers to look busy: Any time you use a computer, it looks like “work” to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal e-mail, chat and generally have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. These aren’t exactly the societal benefits that the proponents of the computer revolution would like to talk about but they’re not bad either. When you get caught by your boss–and you *will* get caught–your best defense is to claim you’re teaching yourself to use new software, thus saving valuable training dollars.

3. Messy desk: Top management can get away with a clean desk. For the rest of us, it looks like we’re not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer, last year’s work looks the same as today’s work; it’s volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your cubicle, bury the document you’ll need halfway down in an existing stack and rummage for it when he/she arrives.

4. Voice Mail: Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. People don’t call you just because they want to give you something for nothing–they call because they want YOU to do work for THEM. That’s no way to live. Screen all your calls through voice mail. If somebody leaves a voice mail message for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during lunch hour when you know they’re not there – it looks like you’re hardworking and conscientious even though you’re being a devious weasel.

5. Looking Impatient and Annoyed: According to George Costanza, one should also always try to look impatient and annoyed to give your bosses the impression that you are always busy.

6. Leave the office late: Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and storybooks that you always wanted to read but have no time until late before leaving. Make sure you walk past the boss’ room on your way out. Send important emails at unearthly hours (e.g. 9:35pm, 7:05am, etc.) and during public holidays.

7. Creative Sighing for Effect: Sigh loudly when there are many people around, giving the impression that you are under extreme pressure.

8. Stacking Strategy: It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor etc. (thick computer manuals are the best).

9. Build Vocabulary: Read up on some computer magazines and pick out all the jargon and new products. Use the phrases freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember: They don’t have to understand what you say, but you sure sound impressive.

10. MOST IMPORTANT: DON’T email this to your boss by mistake!!!

Words to live by!

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