Welcome everyone to my first attempt at hosting that grand institution of the Jewish blogosphere, the Haveil Havalim! Some of my readers (particularly the non-Jewish ones) may be scratching their heads wondering what that all means. Well, luckily the originators of this Semitic smorgasbord have given me a handy little description.
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Kohelet, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
So there you have it. And while I can't offer pretty graphics and wittily-coordinated photos for you this week, I can promise my fellow writers that I will pimp your selected post to the best of my abilities. And for everyone else, please enjoy the diverse range of articles that only a blog carnival can provide. Oh, and everyone help us help bloggers and publicize this endeavor on your own blog, Twitter, Facebook status, smoke signal business, what have you.
Originally, this subheading started as the Humor section. Then I noticed that all the pieces had a Pesach theme running through them, because what could be funnier than enslavement folllowed by 40 years of half-starved wandering in the desert? After all, Mel Brooks said, "Look at Jewish history. Unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable. So, for every ten Jews beating their breasts, God designated one to be crazy and amuse the breast-beaters." Sage wisdom. Now, on with the show!
In one of my favorite posts of the whole carnival, Esser Agaroth teases his Pesach zealot friend with some classic Cleaning for Pesach shtick. As a bean/rice eating Ashkenaz, this was very much up my alley. On a less humorous than slightly pyromaniacal bend, Harry of Israelity tells his own tales of lighting bread products on fire with Burn Baby Burn.
We only get to say birkat hachamah every 28 years, so why not devote a post to it? Direct from Israel comes Batya's ray of light from the united Shiloh group. You're also invited to spend Passover there. And who doesn't love Good News from Israel? Jacob sure does and he's shared pictures from his own sun salutations.
Sometimes we can get bogged down into the mundane details of Pesach preparations. But Manely Montana brings us the Zen and encourages us to look inside for the real meaning of the holiday with Enough Already, Dayeinu. We made it past the sederim, but just to help us get ready for next year, Paul Kipnes writes a little Seder Redux: Deal or No Deal, Where's Your Egypt? Game, What Doesn't Belong on the Seder Table, Progressive Seder posted at Or Am I?.
What's a blog carnival if not a forum for shameless self-promotion. With that, I sneak in my (Shtetl Fabulous's) own seder experiences across the nation with Dispatches from a Wandering Jew.
Muse gives us a few Pesach-themed pieces... first, It Takes More Than Matzah Balls... posted at Shiloh Musings and then she thinks about those Chol HaMoed, In Between Days posted at me-ander. Who doesn't love a little entertainment with his/her typographical errors? Clearly A Time of the Signs finds it all too easy.
CHAMETZ (aka miscellaneous and Jewish-themed)
Haveil Havalim stalwart The Rebbetzin's Husband writes about the Arba Banim (four children) we discuss at the Pesach seder, but it's the only non-humor based Pesach piece, so I stuck it in this category. He also makes the point that the strength and predicted longevity (quality is his term) of the Orthodox community cannot be determined by its quantity. Denomination is a thorny issue for me, so I'll stay out of this discussion in my polite hostess role.
It's more personal than Jewish, but barring a separate personal category, this seemed like just as good a place as any for What War Zone's pre-Romanian holiday getaway opus, giving us his state of the blog address/inaugural mailbag. It comes complete with the pictures and adorable children singing in videos that I am simply not HTML savvy enough to include. Worth a read.
Even though the book came out some time ago, Abigail Pogrebin's ode to celebrity Jews, Stars of David offers some good Pesach lessons according to Yeshivish Harry. In case you had any doubts about his claims on the title, The Real Shliach packs a wallop with On the 11th Day. Paul Kipnes presents Their Top 50 Rabbis List: Not as Statistically Accurate or Methodologically Sound as mine! posted at Or Am I?, saying, "One rabbi's humorous take on letting three people determine the hottest rabbis in America."
A Mother In Israel reflects on how even 60 years later, the issues surrounding Ukrainians and the Holocaust still have an impact on our lives. Batya is a busy girl. First at Shiloh Musings she brings us an alarming article about Jewish stereotypes infecting the Quizzes at Facebook . Then she turns all sweet with a few pictures capturing the season in Naturally Spring. On Israelity, Harry turns a little artistic with a certain collection of Images of Israel that are traveling across China right now.
Should there be "space" within Modern Orthodoxy for women to create meaningful prayer groups of their own? I adamantly say yes, but Shira of On the Fringe grapples with the issue much more eloquently and offers a survey for Orthodox Jews.
Just in time for this season of redemption, Beneath the Wings relates this touching story about The Arab Bus Driver in her town. Smart growth isn't just for American cities, says Tel-Chai Nation with his report on a UK Times article about "new towns in Israel." Mrs. S. presents Thoughts on one day of yom tov posted at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress, saying, "Mo'adim l'simchah, and thanks for doing this!"
Maya posted the latest Israeli ad campaign to merge Pesach and the gym at The Four Sons (and the Four Questions) Make Great Ads! And Benji Lovitt presents How Many Things are Wrong With This Picture? (Or Just Disturbing Actually) posted at What War Zone???.
Yisrael Medad of the Jerusalem Post sent along a mini-carnival of his own. He's following the money beyond the Green Zone with Green-Line Greenbacks, watching it all unravel with Indian Textiles and reflecting sun-gazing in April 1981 at Where Were You 28 Years Ago. Joel Katz gives us a review of media coverage on issues of religion and state in Israel with the caveat that his blog is not affiliated with any organization or movement: Religion and State in Israel - April 6, 2009 (Section 1) and Religion and State in Israel - April 6, 2009 (Section 2).
Finally, Maya made aliyah a year ago and she posts her reflections on her first 365 days as an Israeli at Not so "chadasha" anymore...
In case you missed it last week, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), sent out an email to all its subscribers asking for donations and denigrating the entire universe of bloggers as "non-journalists" who are at the source of traditional newspapers' recent failures. Now, while the increasingly diverse realm of news sources hasn't helped news organizations find a more successful business model, I find it incredibly hard to believe it's all the fault of bloggers. Naturally, many of our fellow bloggers took a crack at responding to the JTA's inane and fearmongering assertions. And thanks to Ima on the Bima, I'm able to offer you a mini roundup of what went down.
Leah Jones at Accidentally Jewish reprints the article, so I figured it was a good place to start. My girl who always seems to be on the opposite side of the country from me, Esther K, works her formidable wordsmithing magic with a great Urban Kvetch response. Dan Brown with EJewish Philanthropy also offers a good overview on the issue and puts it into great context with the whole Nefesh B'Nefesh Jewish Bloggers Conference. CK at Jewlicious throws in its two cents and asks you to contribute to our collective "nonprofessional" work. Steven I. Weiss with The Jewish Channel, points out the utter hypocrisy of the whole episode, what with JTA producing (minimally-read) blogs of its own. As an aside, The Jewish Channel is an incredibly comprehensive blog that's new to me and pretty darn cool. I'd spend more time checking it out if this post didn't have a deadline. The New Jew, aka Maya Norton, puts this whole balagan into focus with a really thoughtful and well-researched piece about, conveniently enough, crisis-mode functionality. She also includes a directory of other posts on the topic. And finally, the JTA offers its mea culpa ... albeit from one of their writers and not from board president Elisa Spungen Bildner who authored the original email.
Personally, I think what we do as bloggers IS important and valid and offers tremendous value. At the same time, it breaks my heart to hear about newspapers folding and close friends losing their reporting jobs. Journalism is integral to a free society and we should do what we can to advance the cause of truth-seeking and information-disseminating. Has the field lost its way in the past years as the bottom line has canceled out integrity and hard work? In parts. Has the mainstream newspaper world failed to develop a viable and profitable business model? Sadly, yes. Is that a reason for all-out civil war? Absolutely not.
I have my own ideas about how we can save journalism and inexpensive subscription services may not be an entirely bad idea. But in the end, the best course of action is to keep on blogging quality material and let history judge.
Phew! Thanks for reading all the way through or at least skimming until this point where you saw the end.
Chag Sameakh and Happy Easter to everyone. Don't forget to buy some half-price Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs tomorrow to save for Thursday. And if you're in NYC on Thursday and want to celebrate with me over a beer - post a comment!
Official HH Closing: That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Haveil Havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. Technorati tags: haveil havalim, blog carnival.