Breaking: Jews Like Booze

Did you know that Jews like whiskey? It is true! Jews like whiskey! A lot of my early Jewish memories are closely tied to whiskey. Every holiday and wedding and Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah featured whiskey. And not just any whiskey, but good whiskey. Single-malt Scotch Whiskey.

And Purim? Forget about it.

Anyway, I guess this was a secret? Something people didn’t know? Well, New York Times found out and wrote an article about the decades-old trend, covering a new WhiskyFest-related event called “Whisky Jewbilee:”

The bond with whiskey goes way back. Mr. Blashka said early Jewish immigrants to America, unable to trust the provenance of local wines, turned to certain distilled liquors, including whiskey. “Because the wine was an issue, typically spirits was their avenue for drinking,” he said.

It’s a good thing whiskey wasn’t mentioned in the Torah!

As recent decades have ushered in a revival in Scotch, bourbon and other whiskeys, Jews, like many other groups, have moved beyond the usual blends and have developed more sophisticated tastes. “Now we have many whiskeys that we know are kosher,” said Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation B’nai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights, whose preferred whiskey is the smoky Laphroaig, a single malt from Islay. “It is used to add to our joy.”

But really, Rabbi Raskin, what’s the real reason you’re so excited about all this whiskey?

“And it helps attendance at synagogues,” he added.

I can only imagine that this news will only increase the mourning on Tisha B’av.

<h/t: Heeb>

Today in Jewish Food News

Have you heard? A 13 year-old kid from Queens won the Scripps National Spelling Bee today on the word “knaidel!” You know, a matzoh ball!

Wait a minute. Something smells fishy. And it’s not the fish balls. You’ll never see one of those near my chicken soup.

After spending most of yesterday trying to figure out the most clear transliterations of Jacob’s grandsons, I can assure you: there’s more than one way to spell “knaidel.” Or is it “knaidel”? “Kneydel”? “K’naydell”?

Have a good shabbos, I guess! Er, I mean, shabbot shalom!

Do the Coen Brothers Believe in God?

Growing up in a religious Jewish community, I always had a special affinity for the films of the Coen brothers. Their cheeky humor was appealed to my cynical side and the whispers I heard that they’d grown up Orthodox made me feel an unearned kinship with them. Seeing Walter Sobchak on screen was a formative experience for a generation of Sabbath-observing Jews. As I got older and a little brighter, I started to notice the murky moral waters in which their films swam and my appreciation for them deepened.

Throughout their films, the Coens grapple with the struggles between good and evil, the impact of luck and fate on our lives, and the concept of a creator running it all. Matt Zoller Seitz spoke with film critic Jeffrey Overstreet in Indiewire last month about the representation of religion in the worlds of the Coens:

I think the Coens suggest him via negativa. They show the incompleteness and insufficiency of a vision that leaves God out. There are clearly human evils at work —evils of foolishness, carelessness, folly, and evils of greed and deliberate violence. But there are also evils of apocalyptic, seemingly supernatural proportions. As No Country demonstrates, good deeds and the power of law are not enough to save the world. Ultimately, the best we can do is seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in the presence of something greater than ourselves.

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