kottke.org posts about Judaism

The Jewish prisonerMay 02 2013

In a piece published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, David Arenberg describes his experience as one of the very few Jews in the state prison in which he's currently incarcerated.

I am always the last person to eat. It's part of a compromise I worked out with the skinheads who run the western state prison complex where I am incarcerated. Under this compromise, I'm allowed to sit at the whites' tables, but only after the "heads," and then the "woods," and then the "lames" have eaten. I am lower on the totem pole than all of them, the untouchable. I should feel lucky I'm allowed to eat at the whites' tables at all.

Not that there's anywhere else I could eat. The prison yard is broken down into five distinct racial categories and segregation is strictly enforced. There are the "woods" (short for peckerwoods) that encompass the whites, the "kinfolk" (blacks), the "Raza" (American-born people of Mexican descent), the "paisas" (Mexico-born Mexicans), and the "chiefs" (American Indians). Under the strict rules that govern interracial relations, different races are allowed to play on the same sports teams but not play individual games (e.g., chess) together; they may be in each others' cubicles together if the situation warrants but not sit on each others' beds or watch each others' televisions. They may go to the same church services but not pray together. But if you accidentally break one of these rules, the consequences are usually pretty mild: you might get a talking to by one of the heads (who, of course, claims exemption from this rule himself), or at worst, a "chin check."

Eating with another race, however, is a different story. It is an inviolate rule that different races may not break bread together under any circumstances. Violating this rule leads to harsh consequences. If you eat at the same table as another race, you'll get beaten down. If you eat from the same tray as another race, you'll be put in the hospital. And if you eat from the same food item as another race, that is, after another race has already taken a bite of it, you can get killed. This is one area where even the heads don't have any play.

Castro, Israel, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and dolphinsSep 09 2010

Jeffrey Goldberg visited with Fidel Castro recently and has two posts on his Atlantic blog about his meetings with the former Cuban head of state: part one and part two.

After this first meeting, I asked Julia to explain the meaning of Castro's invitation to me, and of his message to Ahmadinejad. "Fidel is at an early stage of reinventing himself as a senior statesman, not as head of state, on the domestic stage, but primarily on the international stage, which has always been a priority for him," she said. "Matters of war, peace and international security are a central focus: Nuclear proliferation climate change, these are the major issues for him, and he's really just getting started, using any potential media platform to communicate his views. He has time on his hands now that he didn't expect to have. And he's revisiting history, and revisiting his own history."

This is substantial reporting but I'll admit my favorite line was:

I've never seen someone enjoy a dolphin show as much as Fidel Castro enjoyed the dolphin show.

Because of Goldberg's reportage on Castro's remarks regarding anti-Semitism, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (and strong critic of Israel) announced yesterday that he would meet with Venezuela's Jewish leaders. Someone get Errol Morris down to Cuba to make a sequel to his film about Robert McNamara. The Fog of Cold War perhaps? (via @kbanderson)

Sabbath ModeMar 25 2009

Some appliances are sold with a Sabbath Mode for those who observe the Jewish day of rest. Here are the notes for a Sub-Zero refrigerator:

- The door can be opened/closed at any time without concern of directly turning on or off any lights, digital readouts, solenoids, fans, valves, compressor, icons, tones or alarms.

- Any defrost cycle that becomes active will not be a function of the number of times or the length of time that the door is opened.

- The ice maker is disabled automatically. Ice cubes can then be made manually (using a standard ice cube tray) as needed for that Sabbath/Holiday.

- All dispenser functions are deactivated.

There are also special Shabbot elevators that stop on each floor so that no buttons need to be pushed. One could imagine a Sabbath Web Browser that would require no button pushing...it would just browse through a list of your favorite web sites automatically and you could dip in and read when you wanted.

Forgotten Architects.Mar 14 2008

Forgotten Architects.

Nearly 500 Jewish architects were working in Germany before 1933; today the fate of most of them is unknown. Following is a look at 43 of these architects whose groundbreaking work is sadly forgotten.

Here's some context about the project.

Tags related to Judaism:
religion judaism

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