The Shmooze

Jimmy Kimmel Sued for Mixing Up Rabbis

By Michael Kaminer

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Maybe Jimmy Kimmel thought all rabbis look alike.

Reuters reported last week that ABC’s late-night funnyman has been hit with a lawsuit by a Brooklyn Jew whose likeness Kimmel featured in a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” parody video. In a sketch that aired in August, Kimmel spoofed a visit that basketball superstar LeBron James had made to so-called “rabbi to the stars” Yishayahu Yosef Pinto. In the segment, “Kimmel told viewers that he too had met with the rabbi, and then showed a video edited to make it seem that Kimmel was listening to an Orthodox Jew blathering incoherently in Yiddish,” according to Gothamist.com. But the punim in the video actually belonged to one Dovid Sandek of Borough Park — also known as “the flying Rabbi,” Gothamist said, “though he’s not technically a rabbi.”

Sondek is, however, a minor celebrity on sites like YouTube, Facebook, and even FrumTube, where videos like The Flying Rabbi Dovid Sandek Talks Chassidus have become hits.

Reuters reported that “Rabbi Sondik is now suing Kimmel and ABC for falsely portraying his voice, picture and likeness as the voice, picture and likeness of Rabbi Pinto,” claiming Sondik “was made to look foolish and presented as a laughingstock.”

He claims unspecified damages for the alleged misappropriation of likeness. The lawsuit claims the Kimmel show spliced together images of the host in his car with an existing video of Sondik that producers probably found on YouTube. The dustup doesn’t seem to have hurt the Flying Rabbi’s popularity; three of his YouTube clips have topped 5,000 views.


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