LISTEN: Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg talks anti-Semitism during coronavirus crisis
People of the Pod

LISTEN: Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg talks anti-Semitism during coronavirus crisis

Episode #29: Rosenberg also delves into family musical roots and shares a chipper tune * ToI Senior Analyst Haviv Rettig Gur talks stormy politics on a fast-changing Knesset map

Tablet Senior Writer Yair Rosenberg joins the People of the Pod to discuss the United States government’s response to the growing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis — and the release of his new Shabbat music album.

People of the Pod is a co-production of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and The Times of Israel.

One of the issues Rosenberg covers at Tablet is anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories involving Jews. Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus crisis has launched a whirlpool of Jew hatred and there are at least two types of conspiracy theorists that have raised their profiles during the spread of the virus, he said.

“There are people out there in the conspiracy theorist swamps who are talking about this being some kind of Mossad thing, or Israel-operative thing,” Rosenberg said. And there’s the other type of theorist “who just celebrates when Jews die from it, under the cover that anti-Zionism makes it okay to celebrate when random people die.” Many of these people, he said, tweeted horrific things after Israel’s first victim, Holocaust survivor Aryeh Stern, passed away.

But in addition to his work as a journalist and speaker, for the past five years Rosenberg has been composing and recording Jewish music. It’s a way of reconnecting to his roots — his grandfather was also a musician, saved during the Holocaust when taking refuge in Shanghai — as well as carrying the torch forward.

During a fellowship year in Israel, Rosenberg began exploring and recording melodies that had been floating in his head. He took that learning experience back home to New York and this recently released, wide-ranging album of Shabbat songs is the result.

Listeners can hear his setting of “Lecha Dodi,” which he composed in an easy-to-learn Irish folk style while in Israel. “The goal is to enhance people’s Jewish lives and their Shabbatot,” said Rosenberg, so he invites listeners to sing along.

Then, The Times of Israel Senior Analyst Haviv Rettig Gur joins us to break down the ongoing political drama in Israel and the chances that Israelis may finally get a new government.

File: Blue and White leader Benny Gantz with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on January 22, 2020 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

When this interview was recorded on Thursday, the focus of Israeli politics was still on the role of Knesset Speaker, then filled by Yuli Edelstein. About an hour after the conversation, everything changed on the political map when Hosen Yisrael head Benny Gantz split from the Blue and White party and joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a national unity party.

Rettig Gur explores Edelstein’s background as a Prisoner of Zion, and explains his current views. “He really represents that dignity in government,” he said, which makes the convoluted power struggle he engaged in with the Supreme Court all the more puzzling. Hear Rettig Gur try to make sense of it.

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Also this week, two other Times of Israel podcasts:

For now, we can’t gather in a Tel Aviv pub to sip beers and listen to stories the way WhyWhyWhy! is usually recorded. Co-hosts Noah Efron and Miriam Herschlag, who helms The Times of Israel’s opinion and blogging platform, manage to make that deep human connection through story, even as the corona lockdown keeps us all apart.

Learn why The Times of Israel’s military reporter Judah Ari Gross (pictured, left) can’t help being happy at the moment; hear ToI blogger Sari Friedman’s musings entitled “My Neighbor’s cough;” and take a journey with Jerusalem’s acclaimed philosopher-comedian Yisrael Campbell to visit rabbis’ graves in Ukraine moments before travel was shut down.

About to lose her mind as her six kids are climbing the walls with their enforced coronavirus home-schooling, Times of Israel podcast host Amanda Borschel-Dan turns to these two prominent Israeli comedians to find more humor in the situation.

She first speaks with Asaf Beiser, a creator of ‘Hayehudim Ba’im’ (The Jews Are Coming), a series which parodies Jewish and Israeli history, on what is the essence of Israeli humor. Next, in a very adult conversation, she speaks with raunchy comedian Jonathan Barak, who spreads his grandfather’s wisdom and quotes from Eddie Murphy.

The Times of Israel podcast is available for download on iTunesSoundcloudTuneIn, Pocket CastsStitcher, PlayerFM, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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