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Faking Jewish

Mom & me at camp

Mom & me at camp

My mom’s life aspiration is to become rich, or rather, for me to become rich. Ever since I’ve been old enough to read she’s been hankering for me to pick up one of her many investment books, particularly Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys instead. Somewhere along the way she decided that I might learn some money-management skills if I hung out with Jews. Maybe their stereotypical wealth would rub off on me.

So she took me over to her Jewish friends’ houses and had me become friends with their children. She got a family membership for the Jewish Community Center and she enrolled us in the annual Jewish Single Mothers Hanukah Camp. There was only one problem: neither of us were Jewish.

“Hey, my name is Camille, what’s yours?”

“Ashley.”

“What is your mom going to get you for Hanukah?”

“Nothing. I’m Christian.”

“Huh.”

When the Hanukah buffet was served my mom asked for pork. When it was time to recite part of the Old Testament in Hebrew we had no idea what to do. Basically, my mom’s cover was blown. As if the fact that we were the only Chinese in the camp was not enough. They didn’t kick us out, but we never went to the Jewish Single Mothers Hanukah camp again. That was too bad, because I thought being Jewish was more fun than being Christian.

“Daddy George, can I become Jewish?”

“No.”

“Please?”

“NO!”

“But it is the same thing as being Christian except they don’t believe Jesus was the son of God.”

“You believe in Jesus. You believe he is the son of God.”

“Maybe he’s not.”

“He is.”

“How do you know?”

“Don’t argue with me.”

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Faking Jewish

11880Being an agnostic Chinese American, finding a story that proved relevant to the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival posed quite a challenge.  Luckily, my mother’s atypical childrearing came to the rescue.

When I was about eleven years old, my mother enrolled us in a Jewish single mothers Hanukah camp.   Why, you may ask, would two regular Churchgoers (as we were at the time) attend a camp exclusively for Jews?  My mother’s reasoning: Jews, since they are all very wealthy, would be a good influence on me.  We then proceeded to pretend that we were Jewish because “Jewish people like Jewish people better,” but not without a few blunders along the way.

I intend to explore not only the various stereotypes my mother had of the Jewish community after emigrating to America, but also my own experience in the camp and my desire to be part of a community.  The Jewish community seemed more like a family to me than my estranged and somewhat dysfunctional family, to the point when, upon arriving home, I asked my father if I could be Jewish (for real this time). He said no.

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Halliburton "Survivaball"AshleyBy Ashley Thompson

Many things come to mind when I hear the term “social justice film.”  Among them: educational, thought provoking, inspiring, and perhaps images of the less erudite members of the audience drifting in and out of consciousness.  Rarely do I think of entertaining, let alone laughing-so-hard-that-I-am-getting-a-day’s-worth-of-cardiovascular-exercise funny. Yet “The Yes Men Fix The World” is as diverting as a blockbuster hit, while at the same time satisfying the more prudent spectators with it’s themes of anti-globalization and anti-corporate activism. More importantly, however, the film provides the audience with a resonant and tangible message: We—not the government or large corporations—are the architects of change.

"Will it be just another skeleton in the closet, or will it be a golden skeleton?"Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno are the “Yes Men.”  Together, they attempt to take on the rather arduous task of “fix[ing] the world” by performing heinous acts of fraud, dubbed playfully as “hijinks.” Described by the media as “sick, twisted, cruel” and as “world-renowned trouble-makers,” the Yes Men “pass [them]selves off as big corporations [they] don’t like,” such as Dow Chemical, Halliburton, and “the deputy assistant secretary of the assistant of Alfonso Jackson.” Their hoaxes range from the “scary,” where they use a golden skeleton and a smoke bomb to satirize Dow Chemical’s response to the Bhopal tragedy; the “gross,” with their invention of “vivoleum,” a fuel that is (more…)

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