Was born Jewish, raised Jewish and educated Catholic. He is a “Jewsuit”. He is also a husband, father, newspaper and magazine writer, habitual wearer of baseball caps and author of the soon-to-be-released memoir about his son’s bar mitzvah, “The Rabbi Has Left the Building.”
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Space heaters make their debut this week in the Twilight Lounge, warming up the room enough to propel Goldbrener and Rosen into a surprisingly deep conversation about Judaism, the Torah and faith. Before that, though, they touch on all manner of shallowness ranging from smart phone addiction to the cognitive decline of the family dog, from mis-guided Catholic Hanukkah greetings to moronic Berkeley trolls to bringing home the bagels. When they finally ask the question:
Is an Orthodox rabbi fasting for rain good for the Jews?”
It begins as a lark; Oakland rabbi Mark Bloom, referring to instructions delivered in Mishnah Ta’anit 1:4, fasted for three days in order to produce rain. And it worked! Or did it? And what does it all mean? Listen up and get more than your bargained for…
An illness-wracked Rosen returns to the Twilight Lounge after Thanksgiving, sporting a nasty cough and less than 25 percent laptop battery life, forcing the boys into a truncated post-holiday episode. Join them this week as they recount their respective holiday breaks, touching on turkey skeletons, dog shows and proper snacking strategies before addressing the important Jewish news of the day. What could possibly have motivated Mohamed Mohamed Abdi to run over Jews in his car? How Jewish is Perry Farrell? Is it too late to get tickets for the Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows? How much does Europe dislike its Jews?
“Is a converting Jeff Tweedy good for the Jews?”
It’s great, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that one in five European millennials has never heard of the Holocaust, or that 18 percent of those polled in seven European countries think that anti-semitism is, well, basically our own fault. Are the 7,000 who responded to the poll unique? Goldbrener says, “no.”
Ease into a relaxed Twilight Lounge this week, where you will find Rosen and Goldbrener joined by author and speaker (and Jew) Kevin Smokler, a guest with gravitas enough to convince the boys to ditch their entire format in service of a single question:
“Is hip-hop good for the Jews?”
Of course it is, which leaves plenty of time for the boys (+1) to indulge themselves in a far-ranging conversation about music, the role of Jews behind and in front of the mic, seeking out new cultures versus being timid and scared, well-rested high school nerds and how white and middle-aged one has to be to attend a Guided by Voices show.
Kevin Smokler: always welcome in the Twilight Lounge.