Jewish Telegraph Agency

As more journalists report on Iceland's circumcision saga, the country gets a rabbi

As more journalists report on Iceland's circumcision saga, the country gets a rabbi

Iceland, pop. 348,580, is smaller than many U.S. counties but it often makes news totally out of proportion to its size. I recently reported on the country’s attempt to become the first nation in the world to ban circumcision.

The post was inundated with a wave of comments from anti-circumcision activists who ignored the journalism question raised in my post. Tmatt says he spiked at least two dozen of these messages. So, before you read any further, please restrict any comments to the quality of news coverage on this issue, not your own views on the legal and religious issue itself.

But do read my article and the lengthy response by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson on what the true issues are in Iceland about circumcision.

Then I learned a few days later that Chabad Lubavitch, possibly the most outreach oriented Orthodox Jewish group out there, plans to send a rabbi and his family (pictured above) to Reykjavik sometime next fall. Most of the coverage came from Jewish media, such as this piece by the Jewish Telegraph Agency: 

The Chabad movement is sending a rabbi and his wife to Iceland, an island nation with 250 Jews where ritual slaughter of animals is illegal and circumcision is likely to be outlawed as well.
Rabbi Avi Feldman, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, and his Sweden-born wife Mushky, are slated to settle with their two daughters in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital city, later this year, the couple told JTA last week.
The country is not known to have had a resident rabbi servicing an active Jewish community there since 1918, the year it gained independence from what was then the Kingdom of Denmark.

The piece then updated readers on the circumcision debate in Iceland, then quoted Feldman’s response.

“We hope to bring awareness of the relevance and importance of brit milah,” the rabbi told JTA, using the Hebrew-language word for Jewish ritual circumcision, which is typically performed on boys when they are eight days old. “We hope to bring this awareness to local Icelandic people and especially to lawmakers in their decision on rules, which we hope will have a religious exemption clause.”

Chabad.org has by far the most details on the new rabbi and Iceland’s sparse Jewish history

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Hello? Hello? Mindy Finn is a Jewish vice presidential candidate, so where's the ink?

Hello? Hello? Mindy Finn is a Jewish vice presidential candidate, so where's the ink?

Evan McMullin, a third-party candidate for president based out of Utah, is a Mormon and he's chosen a very interesting vice presidential candidate: Mindy Finn, a businesswoman and tech entrepreneur living in DC. She's an interesting pick, not the least because she's conservative and Jewish.

But don't expect any decent take-outs about her faith. Even though it's been two weeks since she was announced as McMullin's running mate, there's been very little done about her and especially her beliefs. I can excuse the secular media not getting too worked up over Mindy Finn’s faith as she and her running mate are long shots at making a dent in this election. But Jewish media should be ahead of the game on this one.

Typical of the coverage-lite out there is this piece from the Forward

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin announced a Jewish running mate last weekend: Mindy Finn.
 
Finn is a veteran GOP strategist who runs a feminist non-profit. She and McMullin, a former CIA agent, see their independent candidacy as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump.
With their religious makeup — a Mormon and a Jew — and their outspokenness, the McMullin/Finn ticket has been gaining traction lately. Following Donald Trump’s struggles after the release of a tape on which he makes lewd comments about women, they might win Mormon-heavy Utah, where McMullin is now statistically tied with both Trump and Clinton.
Their candidacy is a long shot — they are not even on the ballot in all states — but there technically is a way how it could work. If they manage to win one state and then both Trump and Clinton fail to get the 270 electoral votes necessary to become president, the House gets to decide the election.
More realistically, Finn sees their campaign as the start of a new conservative movement. “We are a glimmer of light in what many have seen as a sea of darkness in this election,” she told Glamour.

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Donald Trump and the telltale tallit: Jewish media storm offers lots of heat but little light

Donald Trump and the telltale tallit: Jewish media storm offers lots of heat but little light

Picture it: Even though your grasp of the basics of Christianity isn’t the greatest, you’re visiting a church. A black church, at that.

Then the pastor throws a tallit over your shoulders.

Now, what’s a Jewish prayer shawl doing at a black church? And what’s the candidate to do? The only thing he could do: Graciously accept it. What happened next? Go to Twitter and put “Donald Trump tallit” in the search field. You’ll find lots to read.

One is the hot-button phrase “cultural appropriation.” But what was Trump supposed to do? Reject the gift and give it back? Here’s how Jewish Telegraph Agency wrote it up

(JTA) --  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was gifted a traditional Jewish prayer shawl by a pastor during a visit to a black church in Detroit.
Bishop Wayne Jackson of the Great Faith Ministries in Detroit draped the tallit around Trump’s shoulders after the candidate finished addressing the congregation.
“Let me just put this on you,” Jackson said as the congregation burst into applause.
The pastor said he fasted and prayed over the prayer shawl.
“This is a prayer shawl straight from Israel. Whenever you’re flying from coast to coast -- I know you just came back from Mexico and you’ll be flying from city to city -- there is an anointing. And anointing is the power of God,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be sometimes in your life that you’re going to feel forsaken, you’re going to feel down, but the anointing is going to lift you up. I prayed over this personally and I fasted over it, and I wanted to just put this on you.”

Wait, there's more. Clearly there is a theme going on here, in the mind of this pastor.

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