"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)



Profile of Shmarya Rosenberg in The New York Times
On Friday, Samuel Freedman had a profile of Failed Messiah's Shmarya Rosenberg in The New York Times. Here are excerpts:
[Rosenberg's] indignation with Chabad coincided with a big story later in 2004, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released video of the slaughtering practices inside Agriprocessors, a vast kosher-meat plant in Iowa owned and operated by a Lubavitcher family, the Rubashkins.

Mr. Rosenberg posted a link to the video and went on both to report his own investigative pieces and to spread those of other journalists, particularly Nathaniel Popper of The Forward. When a public-relations company, 5WPR, fabricated online postings by a rabbi who was pushing for ethical reform in kosher foods, it was Mr. Rosenberg who uncovered the “sock puppet” scam.

A recent post, replete with supporting photographs and documents, showed how even after Agriprocessors had been disgraced and its chief executive convicted of financial crimes, members of the Rubashkin family continued to sell meat through a Web site. . . .

“Shmarya often reminds me of journalism in the old days — when editors would sometimes go at one another physically in the street,” Jonathan D. Sarna, a historian of American Jewry at Brandeis University with expertise in Jewish journalism, wrote in an e-mail message. “I know that he is fiercely hated in some Orthodox circles, but he has had many a scoop, and is certainly THE destination for those who want dirt about Orthodoxy exposed to the world.”
Click here to read my May 2009 post "One Year After the AgriProcessors Raid: An Interview With Shmarya Rosenberg of Failed Messiah."

Gangsta Rabbi Signs With JDub

JDub Records has added Steve "Gangsta Rabbi" Lieberman to its roster. The vegetarian and self-professed "father of the punk-rock flute" has released 17 CDs independently. When I saw Lieberman live in 2006, I rocked out in the front and a friend stayed all the way in the back, appalled by Lieberman's raw, unpolished sound.

In my very first article about Jewish punk back in 2005, I wrote that Lieberman is "a one-man band who plays a wide range of instruments, including flute, bass, and shofar. He regularly invokes Jewish themes in his songs and has released eight albums in the last three years—including 'Punkifier,' 'Jew in the Underground,' and 'Jewish Riot Oy Oy Oy.' Lieberman is Shabbat-observant, has payot, and dons tefillin, but his distorted sound and emotional angst are undeniably punk."

Matthue Roth on Vegetarianism in Judaism
After I posted my interview with Matthue Roth earlier this week, he posted a link to it and additional reflections on MyJewishLearning.com (and his personal Web site). Roth wrote:
Judaism isn’t really a religion of choices. In general, in Jewish law, there are no circumstances that get either/or verdicts. You’re either commanded to do something, or you’re commanded not to do it. Being a vegetarian falls into a kind of shady ground. Some people will tell you that Jews are required to eat meat on Shabbat or holidays. Others will say that eating meat is a [concession] that God made to people after that whole Noah thing didn’t work out, and the world was full of people with unrealized hostility. (At least that’s sort of the way it’s portrayed in the Torah.) In essence, you can kind of say that Judaism supports either position — that we either have to eat meat, or that eating meat is one of the most base and degrading parts of being human that there is.
Vegetarianism and Conflict in the Middle East
Last week, Haaretz ran an article titled "Can a Vegetarian Chef Help Solve the Mideast Conflict?" It began:
Could vegetarianism help solve the Middle East conflict? U.S. celebrity chef Christina Pirello, who is currently in Israel teaching about macrobiotic cooking, doesn't suggest peace would break out the moment Israelis and Palestinians stopped eating schnitzel and shawarma. She believes, however, that meat causes people to lose their ability to accept somebody else's point of view and that most conflicts in the world could be solved if people ate less meat.

"Meat tends to make people opinionated and inflexible in many ways, physically as well as psychologically," the 54-year-old told Anglo File this week.
Luminescent Orchestrii
On Monday night, I saw Luminescent Orchestrii perform for the second time in the past year. Upright bass player Benjy Fox Rosen sang one song in Yiddish.

A 2008 New Voices article explained, "Luminescent Orchestrii describes its music as 'Gypsy Tango Klezmer Punk,' and though it seems a convoluted label, their sound could not be better described. Their seemingly schizophrenic leaps between Eastern European Jewish Wedding music, surrealistic carnival ballads, and East Village punk, meld into a surprisingly coherent whole."

In a letter to the editor in response, Fox Rosen said, "I would not call Luminescent Orchestrii ... Jewish music. Luminescent Orchestrii is influenced by Klezmer music, but we are much more influenced by Romanian Gypsy music, The Dead Kennedys and Serbian Brass Bands. The Luminescent Orchestrii is not a Jewish music ensemble. We play some Jewish songs, I sing a few in Yiddish, but that is it."

'Non-Christian Religious Punk'
On Monday, Alternative Press posted an article about Jewish punk, taqwacore (Muslim punk), and Krishnacore (Hare Krishna punk). The Shondes were the only Jewish punk band mentioned. I have my qualms with the article, but it was fascinating to see the three different subgenres lumped together under the banner "non-Christian religious punk."


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