Thursday, March 23, 2006

Origination of the phrase
Keeping up with the Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses
George Herriman's The Family Upstairs, where Krazy Kat rose to fame — they were never seen either, but were merely referred to in the title, not named.) The stars of the Jones strip were the McGinises (husband Aloysius, wife Clarice, daughter Julie, housemaid Belladonna). They were the ones trying to keep up.
The McGinis family's struggle began in 1916, when cartoonist Arthur R. "Pop" Momand launched the strip in Joseph Pulitzer's paper, The New York World. Its focus wasn't as narrow as the title implied. It was simply a domestic comedy, along the lines of Bringing Up Father (which its art style superficially resembled) or Toots & Casper. (The modern equivalent would be FoxTrot or Moose & Molly.) It's just that their neighbors, the Joneses, were referred to from time to time, usually as objects of envy, and even this became less prevalent in the strip's later days.
By the mid-1920s, Momand's strip was being syndicated nationwide. In a society increasingly concerned with material goods as an indicator of social standing, its name became a popular catch-phrase — which it remains today, tho the strip ended in 1940.
Despite the title's obvious resonance with the public, Keeping Up with the Joneses was not as heavily merchandised as many strips. Its only media spin-off was a series of silent animated cartoons from The Gaumont Company, directed by Harry S. Palmer, which came out in 1916 and '17. And other than a couple of reprint volumes from Cupples & Leon (1920 and '21), and a few reprinted Sunday pages in early issues of Famous Funnies, the comics version never got off the newspaper page. Except for its name, the strip is virtually forgotten today.
During the 1950s, Britain's Daily Mirror, where Jane and Andy Capp began, ran a new strip called Keeping Up with the Joneses. It took none of the characters, none of the style, nothing at all from the original, except its title — which obviously came from the popular expression, not Pop Momand's work. Even the theme of Jones envy was much more pronounced, a major motivating factor for the protagonists, rather than just a small foible alluded to now and again. It wasn't even a comedy, but a soap opera.
But why should the new one resemble the original? There's no reason to suppose the people involved even knew of it. The phrase was more popular than ever, but very few people by that time were aware of its origin in a comic strip.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Lost History of Shabbat Lake

By Jeff Green
A document recently surfaced at the headquarters of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) in Toronto that points to the existence of a synagogue near what is now the Jehovah’s Witness building just south of Sharbot Lake. The document is a bill of sale, dated April 1, 1848, transferring a parcel of land for the "purposes of the construction of a religious building" to a committee headed by a Vintel Ashkenza and a Phievel Badorovsky, both immigrant refugees from persecution in what is now Poland.
Believed to be Victor Ashkana
In the Canadian Jewish Congress archives there was also a description of the building, thought to be the first synagogue in eastern Ontario, which was constructed between 1850 and 1852. It was "a five sided structure in what might be called a rustic gothic style." There is also an account of the dedication ceremony, which took place on September 27 in 1852.
When contacted, a Hebrew scholar, Baruch Brossard of Hezekiah Yeshiva in Montreal, said the "date of September 27, 1852 is interesting, because it coincides with the ‘Days of Awe, that take place in between the two major Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The ‘Days of Awe’ are the period of limbo between the time the Lord writes peoples names in the book of life or the book of death on Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, when that book is sealed. It was an auspicious time for the dedication of this unique synagogue."
It turned out not to be very auspicious, however, since the synagogue burnt down fourteen years later, sometime in March of 1867. Baruch Brossard also said, "It is interesting that the village nearby is now known as Sharbot Lake, since our records indicate the synagogue was near a village called ‘Shabbat Lake’, Shabbat being the Hebrew word for Sabbath.
As to what happened to the Jewish population in the region, Brossard speculates that they may have moved on once the synagogue burned down.
"Still, they may have stayed on and been assimilated," he added. "There are many stories of Jewish people deciding to convert and change their names. This is an unfortunate reality in the diaspora of the Jewish people. It has happened throughout the world, and why not in Shabbat Lake. Shabbat could have been changed to Sharbot, Vintel Ashkenaz could have changed his name to Victor Asselstine and Phifel Badorovsky could have become Phillip Badour. And there you have it, the end of a Jewish community. The sands of history probably covered over the rest of the story, and now people probably think Sharbot Lake is derived from a French or native name," said Brossard, shaking his head and fighting back tears.
Little is known of what life must have been like for the so-called ‘Olden Jews’ of the 19th century, although they probably lived lives similar to their lives in eastern Europe, eking out a meagre existence off the land. There is no record of attendance by Jewish children in the local schools of the time, so they must have set up a Jewish cheder, or school, somewhere near the synagogue. But any traces of this building have been lost, as have all records of the size of the congregation in the ill-fated synagogue.
While there are also no records under the names Brisonovsky or Ashkenaz in the records of Oso or Olden townships, there are two well-known entrepeneurs connected with the Frontenac News whose names are suspiciously similar.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Harav Eliezer Menachem Mann Shach z"l

Before and After

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Menachem Begin plotted to kill Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign secretary in 1946.

The Sunday Times
March 05, 2006

Jewish plot to kill Bevin in London

JEWISH terrorists plotted to assassinate Ernest Bevin, the foreign secretary, in 1946, as part of their campaign to establish the state of Israel, newly declassified intelligence files have shown. The plan was devised by Irgun, the insurgent group led by Menachem Begin, who went on to become a Nobel peace prize winner and prime minister of Israel.
Begin, whom MI6 believed was backed by the Soviet Union, planned to send five terrorist cells to Britain to carry out bombings and assassinations that would “beat the dog in his own kennel”.
The Jewish insurgents aimed to force British occupying forces out of Palestine, enabling the founding of the Jewish state. Details of the plot are included in MI5 files released at the National Archives in Kew, London.
Lord Bethell, author of The Palestine Triangle and an expert on Soviet intelligence, said Bevin was detested by Zionist groups. He added, however: “Zionists would be very angry if you compared these people with terrorists now. You have to remember that Irgun were the grandfathers of today’s ruling politicians.
“They would say they were at war with the British and behaved well, fighting under Marquess of Queensberry rules. They would say that they didn’t target civilians.”
Before the establishment of Israel in 1948, Britain governed the whole of Palestine under a mandate from the United Nations. Agitation among the Jewish population for a separate state escalated immediately after the second world war as refugees flooded in from Europe.
It reached its most intense point in July 1946, when the British headquarters at the King David hotel in Jerusalem was bombed by Jewish fighters dressed as Arabs with explosives contained in milk churns. Ninety-one people, 28 of them British, were killed.
The MI5 files contain a report suggesting that Irgun carried out the attack after drawing lots with two other militant groups, Stern and Hagana. Stern drew the lot to attack British ships in the Mediterranean while Hagana were chosen to attack army camps.
In August 1946, the month after the King David attack, Major James Robertson, head of MI5’s Middle East section, warned London that both Begin’s group and Stern were sending five terrorist cells to the capital to mirror IRA tactics of bombing and assassination.
Roberston added: “In recent months it has been reported that they have been training selected members for the purpose of assassinating a prominent British personality. Special reference has been several times made to Mr Bevin.”
Bevin, the Labour foreign secretary, was an opponent of the creation of a Jewish state and had recommended that Jewish refugees in Europe should be forcibly prevented from emigrating to Palestine.
The planned terrorist campaign ended up being restricted largely to letter bombs. In 1947, 20 were sent to leading figures in Britain including Bevin and Anthony Eden, his Tory predecessor.
After the establishment of Israel, Begin, who died in 1992, dissolved Irgun and turned to politics. He became prime minister in the 1970s and was awarded the Nobel prize in 1978 jointly with Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt, for signing the Camp David peace accords