Whats good for the Jews Check out funny Web sites

In the middle is a big, vivid graphic of a plate with a container of cream cheese surrounded by different kinds of bagels.


Click on that image, and you get to the real heart of the site, where the authors attempt to answer: Is it good for the Jews?

Since humor, not enlightenment is the goal here, your choices are limited.

Click on "politics" to find out who among the current crop of presidential contenders (well, not exactly current; recently, the list still included Bill Bradley, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani) is good for the Jews.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush doesn't fare too badly. According to the site, "he comes from a good family, and his mother looks like she could be your Bubby Helen from New York."

But the site hedges: "W" isn't exactly a rocket scientist, it informs us, so they'll defer judgment until later in the campaign.

Vice President Al Gore is "boring, but a mentsch." No equivocation here; he's good for the Jews.

Pat Buchanan? "You're kidding about this one, right?" the site's author asks. But the Reform Party contender could be good for Israel because his election might spur a great new wave of aliyah.

Monica Lewinsky is — well, you can guess. Not great for the Jews. The Dodgers–the site author apparently still thinks longingly of their Brooklyn origins–are good for the Jews. Remember Sandy Koufax?

You get the picture. This isn't exactly cutting-edge satire, but it's good for a chuckle, and the idea is cute. Less cute: a "miscellaneous" section that seems to be nothing more than a collection of the kinds of trite sayings you can find in any strip-mall greeting card shop.

"Your true friends love you anyway." Gag.

Still, it's a fun little site. Check it out.

On a more serious note, life is getting easier for kosher consumers, thanks to a wealth of informative, useful sites on the World Wide Web.

One of the newest and best: http://kosherfinder.com, a site that provides convenient access to a storehouse of information on kosher living.

The home page offers a number of interesting, potentially useful feature stories. A recent example: an article on genetically engineered foods.

A regular feature on kosher campus living recently featured a story about the conflict between Jewish holidays and exam schedules; the travel section includes stuff on interesting places and interesting issues for wandering Jews.

The centerpiece: the "find anything kosher" search engine, which offers almost instant access to an array of information of interest to kosher consumers — where to find kosher butchers, kosher-certified cleaning products, kosher-friendly hotels.

You can do nationwide or worldwide searches, or localize your investigations using easily navigated fill-in-the-blanks boxes.

There's a separate search function for kosher restaurants, with listings as far away as Hong Kong — and as close as San Francisco.

There are also interesting "ask the expert" discussion forums on issues such as health, kashrut, wine, travel and Jewish holidays.

A "reference" section provides basic information about kashrut, and there are links to other useful services. If you're really a digital kind of person, try the downloadable restaurant listings for Palm electronic organizers.

The site is nicely organized and reasonably attractive, although somewhat overloaded with advertising.

James D. Besser is a Washington-based correspondent who has been writing about Jewish Web sites since the early 1990s. His columns alternate with those of Mark Mietkiewicz. Besser can be reached at [email protected]