Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shana Tova from The CJN and The Maccabeats

Jewish song-spoofers, The Maccabeats, have done it again with a parody of One Republic's hit single "Good Life". It arrived just in time to greet the Days of Awe with song.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All together, each alone

Dear Ella,
The Jewish New Year was always a nice time in our home. Memories of wonderful smells filled the house, and there was a sort of bustle that surrounded the dinners on those nights. Dad would have to set up the large dining table, and my sister and I were in charge of polishing the silverware and setting the table with the good china.

When I was younger, I actually went to shul with my parents, too, but did little praying. Instead, my friends and I ran through the corridors of the synagogue and often got in trouble for making too much noise. But the awe of hearing the shofar was always the highlight. It was a very special memory that fills me with warmth.

Then my parents separated and the entire mood in the house changed. My sister and I stayed with our mom. At first, she tried not to involve us in their fighting, but eventually, the venom spewed and the hatred was evident. Our first Rosh Hashanah as a split family was nothing short of torture. They fought over us and forced us to choose. I’m thankful that I’m now away in school and can make excuses for not coming home. I actually dread the High Holidays now and feel very lonely. I wanted to share my story in case any of your other readers feel this way, too.

Alone for the holidays

Dear Alone for the holidays,

I can hear in your letter the longing for those days that have left their mark in your heart. It’s time, however, to make new memories to carry with you. Rosh Hashanah is a time for self-reflection. However, when you do it together with others as part of a community or group, you’re given guidance and a sort of “program” to follow. The warmth you’re looking for is still there, it just has to come from within.

I’m sure that if you try, you’ll find other young Jewish students that are alone at school during the holidays. Perhaps there is a Hillel at the school, or a Chabad, or another congregation nearby. You don’t have to know anyone there. You’ll meet new people. I think you’ll be surprised to see that your situation isn’t so unique and that many people, for one reason or another, are alone for the holidays.

All of us together, each of us alone. The High Holidays are a time when all of us stand alone before God as we reflect on our lives and review our past year. But whether you realize it or not, you’re part of a much larger Jewish community. Don’t go it alone. Go to a place where, once again, you can hear the shofar. It may bring back memories, but at the same time, you’ll be making a new connection, one you’ll carry with you through adulthood, a new memory that’s yours alone, not one from your past.

The memories you shared with your family will always live on in a special corner of your heart, but you have room for many more special moments. Find your own compass and follow it in other directions. Embrace the new community you’re part of. Don’t sit alone in your dorm room listening to the shofar on YouTube. Go online and find a service nearby. Who knows what’s waiting for you.

Shanah Tovah.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Previewing: All together, each alone

In next week's advice column, Ella advises 'Alone for the holdiays', a student who looks back on past Jewish new year celebrations that were a little less awesome and filled with a different kind of dread.

Ella says, The High Holidays are a time when all of us stand alone before God as we reflect on our lives and review our past year. But whether you realize it or not, you’re part of a much larger Jewish community.

With reasons for not wanting to go home for the holidays, 'Alone for the holiday' feels a great sense of loss.

Stay tuned to The Shmooze for next week's installment of Ask Ella.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Skate Park in Alberta defaced with a giant swastika

As tweeted by @CJPAC (Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee) and reported by Pamela Roth for, a swastika was carved into Castle Downs Park's Edmonton Hill.

A mother and her two young boys came across the disturbing symbol on Wednesday while playing on the playground in the park. The night before a group of young males had been seen jumping the temporary fence.

Constable Patrick Ruzage of the city police said while it is not uncommon to see graffiti around town especially in the summer months while school is out, the size of the swastika carved is rare.

Councilor Amrjeet Sohi, leader of the Racism Free Edmonton initiative, hopes the vandalism was merely a thoughtless act, rather than a co-ordinated effort to make a racist statement. In a statement made by Sohi, the councilor said, "This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. This does not reflect what Edmonton is all about."

City crews have since removed the swastika and will likely have to seed the ground again as it continues to renew the look of the park.

In related news former Christian Dior designer John Galliano was found guilty of antisemitic remarks and racist behaviour. Full story on

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shatner, The Captains and FanExpo Toronto!

Exactly one year since we last saw the legendary William (Bill) Shatner grace the stage at Fan Expo in Toronto, he was back again. While he saw many of the TV projects that he promoted at last year’s convention cancelled in the last 12 months, Shatner was quite upbeat and excited about his two new documentaries.

In The Captains, an original documentary both produced and directed by the original series captain of Star Trek’s Enterprise, Shatner travelled the world reconnecting with each of the actors who have played captains as part of the Star Trek franchise. Among them are Patrick Stewart, Scott Bakula and Chris Pine, who discuss their experiences captaining the famed starship. Special appearances by Kate Mulgrew and Avery Brooks are also accompanied by clips from their respective shows.

In speaking with Stewart, Shatner has an epiphany about his time playing Captain Kirk and what the ongoing love from fans at the conventions he attends ultimately means to him.

The Captains had a showing on the U.S. cable channel Epix in July. Look for the DVD to hit stores in early October.

The second documentary Shatner has been working on is the yet-to-be-officially-titled Fanatics. In it, he explores what genre lovers are after when they take part in the communal experience of attending conventions.