Actually, the Israeli ads don’t have much of anything to say about Israelis marrying American Jews

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After spotting Jeffrey Goldberg’s post with the attention-grabbing title Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews all over Facebook, Twitter, and my inbox – if you clicked on this link, you’ve probably seen it – I feel it requires some sort of response. So here we go.

We’ll start at the beginning:

The Netanyahu government’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption is sponsoring advertisements in at least five American communities that warn Israeli expatriates that they will lose their identities if they don’t return home.

So far so good… and that’s where he should have thought about wrapping up the post. Instead, Goldberg goes on to dissect two of those advertisements in detail. Here’s the first:

And here’s Goldberg’s summary:

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Really with Zeke and Amy

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Readers of the New York Times were recently treated to Ezekiel Emanuel’s four-part series on how to rein in the cost of health care. I’m not an expert on health care; this post is not about his proposals. That said, the coming paragraphs are a crash course in Ezekielcare. If you read the series, feel free to skip ahead to the jump, or consider this a refresher.

In the first of four parts, Emanuel lays out the problem:

In 2010, the United States spent $2.6 trillion on health care, over $8,000 per American… our health care spending is the fifth largest economy in the world.

But he also recognizes that the issue is not the absolute dollar value spent on health care – it is the results those dollars buy. If we chose to spend exorbitant sums on health care, life expectancy skyrocketed, and disease disappeared, that cost would reflect a funding priority, a policy or market decision to exchange resources for a specific form of quality of life.

Instead, there is almost no correlation between the amount spent and health outcomes, relative to other developed countries. Simply put, Americans waste a lot of money at a time when they don’t have much to waste:

Almost no matter how we measure it — whether by life expectancy or by survival for specific diseases like asthma, heart disease or some cancers; by the rate of medical errors; or simply by satisfaction with health services — the United States is actually doing worse than a number of countries, like France and Germany, that spend considerably less.

In Part 2 of his series, Emanuel describes certain solutions – from tort reform to transforming health insurance companies into nonprofits – he says would do too little to solve the problem. Part 3 describes how 21st-century information systems could lower health care costs by $32 billion a year – a conservative estimate ‘just’ over the $26 billion threshold Emanuel believes useful solutions must cross. But most importantly, he closes his third installment with a promise:

Next week, I’ll write about broader, more systemic and bigger ways to save

For about one moment, I thought the author might deliver on his promise.

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Error 501 Original

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The New York Times ran an article Sunday – What’s in a name? Ask Google – about expecting parents who use Google to vet potential baby names. Apparently only 64% of them do it, which is surprising since most expecting parents aren’t grandparents, and studies consistently show that ‘not being a grandparent’ enjoys a strong positive correlation with ‘knowing about the google’.

The highlight of the article came embedded in this nugget:

Uniqueness seems to be a primary motive and has spurred an unspoken competition among parents to find the most original names, said Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard,” a guide for selecting a name. “Parents thinking of a baby name will type it in and say: ‘Oh, no, it’s taken. There are already three others with that name.’”

But too little research can backfire, too. Deborah Goldstein, 43, and her partner, Gabriella Di Maggio, thought they had chosen unique names for their boys: Levi and Asher. To be sure, they checked the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular baby names. Neither was in the top 100…

But shortly after the couple moved to South Orange, N.J., in 2006, they had a rude awakening. While waiting at an ice cream parlor, they heard a woman shout “Asher!” at a different boy.

“It was two other Jewish lesbian moms with a child of the same name,” Ms. Goldstein said. Google had let her down. “It didn’t tell us it’s a unique name unless you move to a neighborhood outside New York City where other trendy Jews are moving, too.”

So Asher was ruined by 2006. Imagine the couple’s disappointment two years later, when they discovered Levi was the sixth most-unique name in the Palin household alone.

Also, jeans.

The Kindle* of Blog Posts

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I usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the websites I visit regularly.

So I was surprised to spot an article on Haaretz describing the funeral of, and eulogizing, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel. That Haaretz wrote about a Haredi Rabbi is not inherently noteworthy. But the newspaper’s editorial decision to describe Rabbi Finkel as ‘inspirational’ – in its headline,  no less – along with the generally positive tone of Raphael Ahren’s article, struck me as atypical, to put it mildly.

I was also interested to note Haaretz’s inclusion of the following clause:

Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the head of the capital’s Mir Yeshiva, which is considered the Harvard of the Haredi world

Ahren is providing his reader with a basis for positioning the Mir within a heirarchy of its peers, and he is using ‘Harvard’ to denote the pinnacle of a given system of education. Forget for a moment that any sort of objective comparison between Harvard and the Mir is intrinsically specious. I understand what Ahren is trying to say. You understand what Ahren is trying to say. Joe Biden understands what Ahren is trying to say: the Mir is a Big Fucking Deal.

But enough about the Mir. That phrase – “the Harvard of” – reminded me of something that has always amused me about Israel. We’re talking about a country of 7.8 million people (כן ירבו), with a grand total of nine universities, and to hear Israelis – and other Zionists – tell it, every institution of higher education in the country is basically in the Ivy League.

Off the top of my head, I knew I had often heard people describe Hebrew University as “the Harvard of Israel”, and Technion as “the MIT of Israel”. But I was curious to learn just how deep the rabbit hole goes. So I busted out my copy of the US News & World Report, 2012 Edition, and set out to investigate the ties between Israeli universities and their American counterparts.

Most importantly, I intended to discover just which American institutions of higher education could use some help with international branding.

METHODS

My methodology was simple and straightforward. Here is a representative sample:

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