Barack Obama, as we all know by now, is quite fond of summoning up the spirit of Abraham Lincoln. That’s why it was such a surprise when the presidential predecessor Obama decided to invoke in his inaugural address was not “Honest Abe” but the fellow who (as lore has it) could not tell a lie about chopping down a cherry tree. But our new president isn’t the only one conjuring the spirits of the American Cincinnatus and the Great Emancipator for elevated purposes:
In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that the script for the video was written by Nick Weiss, the brother of Forward staff writer Anthony Weiss. Nick Weiss also provides the voice of Lincoln.
As Hanukkah nears its end, the good folks at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, N.J., can breathe easily. Their world-record of 541 dreidels spinning simultaneously has withstood a challenge mounted by Sha’arei Am in Santa Monica, Calif.:
Take that, Tom Lehrer!
UPDATE: There appears to be some uncertainty as to exactly who holds the dreidel world record: Last year students at the University of Maryland spun a prodigious number of dreidels, Sports Illustrated reports, and back in 2003, we reported that “the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center at Indiana University broke the world record — previously held by Maryland — for the number of dreidels spun at once, when more than 500 students and members of the local community came out to spin 713 dreidels for 10 seconds.” It’s all very confusing, but don’t despair. We have crack a crack reporter on the case and will let you know more as soon as we know more.
UPDATE II: Here’s what we found out.
So we’ve had seven nights of Hanukkah videos. We’ve watched singing cowboys, rapping Jewesses, will.i.am impersonators, melodious philosemitism, a comic spilling the beans on George Clooney, Adam Sandler dropping names, and Lipa Schmeltzer doing his thing. But, a viewer might fairly complain, we still don’t have any better sense of what this holiday is all about than when we began. Fair enough.
Fortunately, Rabbi Laura Baum can explain what Hanukkah is all about — and in only three minutes:
The rest of her video series is pretty good, too. Rabbi Baum also examines the Hanukkah blessings, takes a deeper look at the “myth” of the miraculously long-lasting oil, makes some edible Hanukkah art, explains that “real women eat cheese, or at least they feed it to their men before they kill them,” teaches us that there are many ways of lighting Hanukkah candles, and offers a little bit of historical perspective on the Festival of Lights.
Of course, this may raise hackles from those who look to Eight Nights of Yid Vid not for educational content but rather for a little lighthearted diversion. For those who feel this way, I found this video of a woman performing a very nice dreidel dance.
Ain’t no Hanukkah song like a Hanukkah song sung by Hasidic pop giant Lipa Schmeltzer (alas, it’s only a promo, so it gets cut off a little abruptly):
Sure, Lipa may not top the pop charts like Hasidic reggae phenom Matisyahu. But Matisyahu isn’t nearly as much zany fun. (Exhibit A: Check Lipa out promoting the “Big Event” charity concert — which sparked a big brouhaha earlier this year after it was canceled following complaints by rabbis who warned it was liable to cause “ribaldry and lightheadedness.”)
Hat tip: Jewish Music Review
Before “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” there was the “Chanukah Song”:
And here’s his “Chanukah Song,” version 3.0:
It should be noted that, while some maintain that the “Chanukah song” is the “single most important Jewish song of the past quarter-century,” Adam Sandler doesn’t necessarily bring academic precision to his song-writing.
Maybe she can get in touch with this guy, if and when he gets his Christmas wish:
So all you want for Christmas is to be Jewish? No problem, my singing friend. While you wait, I’ll leave you with this to tide you over. You should know, however, that there is a counterargument. (The counter-argument is quite funny but, viewer beware, features some language that should no be repeated on a family blog).
Yes, Chabad of Malibu can light your menorah. Like will.i.am’s pro-Obama video upon which it is based, the Chabad video features a woman saying “Yes we can” in Hebrew. Unlike the will.i.am video, Chabad doesn’t have Jewish/Danish-American actress Scarlett Johansson — or any other women for that matter — singing along. For which, of course, there’s a ready explanation. That, however, begs the question: Did the folks who made or performed in the Chabad video allow themselves to listen to the original?
Hat tip: Jeffrey Goldberg
Be forewarned, it’s a little crude, a little rude, but then again, what would you expect from a hip-hop defense of Hanukkah:
The question is: How do M.C. Jew C and Lil’ Mitzvah stack up against Miriam and Shoshana, the geniuses featured in last year’s second-night Yid Vid?
Last December, the Bintel Blog marked the Festival of Lights and Latkes with eight crazy nights of offbeat Hanukkah-themed videos for your viewing enjoyment. We watched intergalactic, interfaith warfare; dancing Israeli donuts; Aussie punk rockers; manic terrorists; soulful (and not as soulful) holiday songs; NBA stars playing defense, (faux) O.G. hip-hop straight outta Pico-Robertson; and gambling monkeys.
All in all, it’s a tough act to follow if, ahem, I do say so myself. Fortunately, in what one might call a Hanukkah miracle, I happened upon these dreidel-loving kosher cowboys:
Take that, Erran Baron Cohen!
Hat tip: Gruntig.
Now, into my e-mail inbox comes further proof of the power of music to bring people together. Indeed, it is powerful enough even to overcome the narcissism of minor differences:
Sarah Lefton, a San Francisco-based Jewish innovator, who was responsible for giving the world the Jewish Fashion Conspiracy, which sold schmattes bearing clever semitic slogans, has a cool new conspiracy brewing.
This time, her co-conspirators include those learned in the ways of Torah and those learned in the ways of animation. The result is the G-dcast — a weekly animated presentation of the Torah portion.
It’s off to a strong beginning, with a Bereshit cartoon narrated by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner:
While Barney Frank and Ben Bernanke have been working on addressing the economic crisis, two younger, slightly more glamorous Jews are thinking of some outside-the-box solutions.
What do Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones think we should be doing? Watch and learn:
Hat tip: Gothamist
…she still wouldn’t want to go to rehab:
There’s something quite appropriate about doing an Amy Winehouse cover while a bit shikered. Here’s Winehouse herself performing a Michael Jackson cover while in a bit of state.
Hat tip: Commentary’s John Podhoretz
UPDATE: The mysterious, bearded, Yiddish-speaking Orthodox guy has been identified! Bintel Blog reader Ralph Kostant helpfully notes in a comment that the fellow in the video “is Marvin Silbermintz of North Hollywood, California, formerly a writer for Jay Leno at the Tonight Show, and a very funny guy.” Indeed, it turns out that this isn’t Silbermintz’s first appearance on the Bintel Blog. We previously showcased his genius back in February.
Why? Why not? They’re dope, fly, fresh and phat… as the kids used to say.
Oh, also, a much more famous Jewish musician recently produced a much stranger video.
The Daily Show’s Olympics correspondent Rob Riggle visits China’s Great Wall and takes part “in a custom 6,000 years old.” The action begins around 3:30 into the video:
Hat tip to Bintel Blog reader Jack Miller
Natalie Portman takes a page from Bollywood in a video from her bohemian beau Devendra Banhart (who is, no doubt, by now the object of loathing from jealous young Jewish men the world over):
Hat tip: Jewlicious
Max Blumenthal, scourge of conservative conferences, turns his camera toward Holocaust denier David Irving, who recently swung by New York City for a stop on his American speaking tour. Blumenthal doesn’t have to work too hard to make his subject look ridiculous:
Irving spoke in a room at an Upper East Side church basement, but the church’s pastor told Blumenthal that event organizers were less than above-board. “Someone made a reservation to have a discussion of a book. The name was not David Irving. We knew nothing about it. We thought it would be just something nice for the community,” he explained. “And it turns out that it was David Irving. We were completely deceived. And really we’re outraged, because we do not cater to that kind of bigotry, and I’m really sorry that this happened.”
My favorite Irving quote from the video: “Adolf Hitler was being kept out of the loop and was probably not at all antisemitic by the time the war began.” Or maybe this one, on the origins of World War II: “Hitler wanted a little war, but it got out of hand.”
For another report on the Irving event, see this article from The New York Sun (for which Blumenthal is the main source).
The new issue of Heeb Magazine has a nice interview with Mac-made musical sensation Yael Naim.
From it I learned that the Israeli-born singer, best-known for her brilliant “New Soul,” does a live cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” “I wanted to take something far from what I enjoy and make it mine,” Naim tells Heeb. “Britney Spears was far enough.”
Here’s Naim’s version:
By way of comparison, here’s the original by Britney.
There was nary a review of Adam Sandler’s “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” that didn’t mention the movie’s steady stream of hummus jokes. The irony is that, as the following shocking video reveals, Sandler doesn’t even like hummus. And when he appeared to be eating the mashed-chickpea spread in the film, he was actually eating yogurt!
How deep do the lies go? Next we’re liable learn that there’s no such thing as Fizzy Bubbeleh.
Perhaps Sandler isn’t the most important living Jewish commentator after all…
Hat tip: Jewcy’s Tamar Fox
UPDATE AND WARNING: Despite what the video window says, it is available to be viewed. Just hit play. Also, be warned, Sandler does something somewhat disgusting with a fish in the video.