In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

In crisis, Israel keeps a shtick upper lip

By Mark Magnier

The jokes were flying faster than the rockets during the latest conflict with Hamas

JewishWorldReview.com |

RISHON LE ZION, Israel— (MCT) During the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, high-tech executive Sharon Savariego was never far from the essentials: easy access to the family bomb shelter, a television beaming 24/7 emergency coverage and a laptop to check the latest Internet levity.

"The jokes were everywhere," Savariego said days after the wail of sirens had receded and the rockets had stopped crashing. When "we have these situations, we make humor about everything."

Israelis are well-known for their cynicism and dark humor, a way to relieve stress, bring people together and provide an illusion of normality during a crisis.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". In addition to INSPIRING stories, HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

"Where there's more suffering, there's more humor," said Arie Sover, a professor at Ashkelon Academic College and editor of the Israeli Journal of Humor Research. "The history of the Jewish people is filled with bad things, so we have an extraordinary humor system."

Within minutes of the first hail of rockets from the Gaza Strip in mid-November, jokes were also flying, their payloads aimed at the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, air raid sirens and shelter life.

Mock weather reports read, "Cloudy with a chance of rockets."

"To those of you moving to Canada, can I have your flat screens?" wrote comedian Benji Lovitt, adding that his apartment was available for those under fire, "especially if you are female, single and between the ages of 29 and 37."

In a stand-up routine by comedian Yossi Tarablus, students asked Hamas to target their school — and volunteered its GPS coordinates — to avoid a math test.

Making light of danger lets Israelis feel more in control, said comedians and trauma experts. Moreover, almost nothing is off-limits in this often-abrasive culture.

"Part of the humor comes from the macho bravado you need to live in Israel," said Donna Rosenthal, author of "The Israelis." "There is no such thing as politically correct, and no such thing as sacred cows."

Comedy often verbalizes the anxieties that people wouldn't otherwise express, said Lovitt, including the fear of being caught unprepared.

"When the siren goes off, and you're in the crapper, you just have to laugh," he said in a Facebook post that drew dozens of "likes."

For some, humor provides an antidote to endless political debate.

"It helps tune out all the online shrillness," said Sarah Tuttle-Singer, social media director for the Times of Israel, an online news site. "Personally, it helped me cope."

Some jokes juxtaposed religion and science. Among Savariego's favorites: a picture of the Iron Dome beside a yarmulke — "dome" and "yarmulke" are the same word in Hebrew — with the caption "Which one helped us more?"

Shelter life provided ample fodder, including a routine by Tarablus about meeting his 70-year-old neighbor in the stairwell after she'd run out without her shirt on. "Then I really considered myself a trauma victim," he said.

Not everyone found it amusing, however.

"It's not always so funny, because I live it," said Gila Elcham-Gueta, a small-business owner in Ashkelon.

Predictably, Hamas was a frequent target, particularly after it sent propaganda messages in Hebrew.

"Next time you want to scare people, please use your spell-check," countered an Israeli video clip. When Israeli forces killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari in an airstrike on his car, a satirical Times of Israel guest blog read, "Hamas chief's death reveals dangers of driving in Middle East."

Netanyahu, whose nickname is "Bibi," came under comic attack after agreeing to a cease-fire some saw as a sellout, with a photo that went viral of soldiers prone on the ground, their bodies spelling, "Bibi's a loser."

Comedians provided outreach in southern Israel, where most of the Hamas rockets were aimed, offering free entertainment to boost spirits. "The response was great," said comedian Odelia Yakir. "People appreciated that we came from the center, risked ourselves, to perform."

Follow-up shows were canceled when the conflict ended. "Oh well, next war," said Tarablus.

A few emailed jokes circulated in Gaza and the West Bank as well, Palestinians said, including a picture of Netanyahu beside sewer pipes that poked fun at an Israeli program using them as temporary shelters, and a bit expressing amused disbelief that the latest Palestinian rockets actually worked after years in which they resembled piddling fireworks.

"While Palestinians used to joke a lot about Yasser Arafat, nowadays our leadership is a bit gloomy," said Islah Jad, a professor at Birzeit University outside Ramallah, in the West Bank. "Now it's not even worth joking about."

Although Israeli comics say almost anything is fair game, they do have limits. Many said they avoid joking about kidnapped soldiers or attacks that kill Israelis or children. "Kids are kids on either side, especially if you're a father," Tarablus said. "You need to be sensitive."

A bus bombing in Tel Aviv during the conflict, the first in years, also gave pause, evoking a period of great anguish in the 1990s. Once it became apparent that no one had died, however, humorists revved back up with Facebook posts such as "Getting on a bus, wish me luck" and "We're going back to the '90s, get out your AC/DC albums."

As the conflict wound down, attention shifted to the next "crisis": overindulgence during Hanukkah. "Now it's time to deal with the real threat at hand," one wag wrote online. "Jelly donuts."

Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.

© 2012, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services