The movie Noah

At times, you have to pity Evangelical Christians – largely being ignorant of the Bible and the traditions it is rooted in, screaming that anything that doesn’t go on within their church is “witchcraft” (while laying hands on the sick, praying and doing all sorts of rituals that many anthropologists might actually consider witchcraft and certainly people of other religions might view it as such), etc. According to this review of Noah, this is one of those times….and I quote from the review:

“Noah,” then, is a film that fundamentalist Christians are right to abhor. It is midrashic, magical, and radical. Its characters are deeply flawed and deeply complicated. It questions the meaning of faith. It is, in the best senses of the word, quintessentially Jewish.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but this review has made me eager to do so. Aronofsky is a Jew and is coming at these stories from an entirely different perspective than Christians. As the review also states:

But most of Noah’s extra elements come from Jewish legendary sources: Midrash and Kabbalah primarily. Noah’s wife, for example, goes unnamed in the Biblical text, but the midrash in Bereshit Rabba 23:3 identifies her as Naamah, sister of Tubal-Cain. Aronofsky partially follows suit, keeping her name but severing the connection to Tubal-Cain. In Aronofsky’s film, the children of Cain and the children of Seth are almost like two different nations, never to mix.

So, this movie isn’t just a run of the mill Hollywood blockbuster hopeful. It is a Jew’s midrashic retelling of the story as it is in his mind. I hope when I see it I can be proud of it as a piece of Jewish culture – weaving the written Torah along with the oral Torah (Talmud) and revealed Torah (Kabbalah) into Aronofsky’s own d’var Torah.

Belle Knox – Porn, Sexuality and Religion

I ran across this article on the Huffington Post and I have to say a few things. If you don’t know, Belle Knox is an 18 year old college girl who has turned to porn to pay her way through college. First, I have to say that is so cliché that it is ridiculous. College girls turning to stripping, porn, prostitution…especially “sugar daddies” and whatever else is so common as to be almost unworthy of note.

But, there are things about this article and situation that makes it worthy of note and I’d like to bring up a few of them. One is that people are threatening to kill her, threatening to rape her, harassing her and her family, etc. Now, I’m sure that if you ask them why they are so enflamed by what she does, they will cite that she’s crazy, that they’re religious, and she is doing the “wrong” thing. I would rebut two of those assertions by saying that I can’t think of many things crazier or more wrong than threatening to kill someone, rape them, etc. other than actually following through on the threats.

The religion aspect is something I want to spend the most time with, however – since religion is a great passion of mine. Many of you know that not only do I see nothing wrong with the fact I’ve explored other religions, I – like my rabbi and whole beit den, see that as a good thing. You’re not a better person, religious or otherwise, because you’ve done less exploration in your life. You’re just more ignorant of what’s out there and how others truly view the world. But, having experienced Christianity and being a Jew until I die, I want to look at it from that perspective. (more…)

Abe Foxman and Anti-Semitism

Abe Foxman is retiring as head of the Anti Defamation League, the ADL. He leaves at a time when anti-semitism is at a historic low in the United States. Of course, Foxman is a Holocaust survivor and, as such, has always been a vanguard against the appearance of anti-Semitism. But I, for one, would like to congratulate Mr. Foxman on a job well done. Because of him and people like him, you are more likely to encounter a racist in your day to day life than an anti-semite. In the South, you’re more likely to find support and well wishes when people find out you’re Jewish than anti-Semitism….at least where I am. It’s a good time in history to be a Jewish American.

New Cloud Storage Service

This is like Google Drive or Dropbox. But, it’s run by Barracuda, the hard drive people.

Normally, it’s 15 GB free, but while they’re getting their name out, every person you refer gets an extra 5 GB and you get an extra 5 GB. There’s no upper ceiling on that right now. So, if you want 20 GB of online storage where you can share files, keep backups, etc. then CLICK THIS LINK.

A bonus for this over Google Drive is Google Drive sometimes mangles filenames (as noticed with Calibre). This service, however, does not. Also, unlike Google Drive, this has a native Linux client which seems to work well.

Late comer to Ereaders

A few weeks ago, I was in Torah study and I had not pre-ordered the book we needed for that week’s Torah study. I saw someone else reading the book on their tablet, so I downloaded the Kindle app and, within a minute, had purchased the book and downloaded it to my Samsung S3. I was in love…

When I converted to Judaism, I sold all my books on the occult, Kabbalah from an occult perspective, other religions, etc. It was around 50 books. It was really nice actually clearing out the space. Here was a way to get the books I read, get them cheaper (I saved $5 over the printed version) and get them immediately. I bought a kindle keyboard and fell in love with the whole ereader experience. It was also a way to make reading exciting in the house…which is an important benefit.

Well, I sold the kindle keyboard and bought a Nook HD so I can display childrens’ books in full color. It arrives tomorrow. I’m a little upset that Torah: A Modern Commentary for Modern Times is not available in ebook format, because that would make the ereader even more useful in synagogue. It also sucks that many of the Union for Reform Judaism’s books in general are not available. But, there ARE plenty of Jewish books available.

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