The Shmooze

VIDEO: Shimon Peres Needs a Job

By Anne Cohen

Hiring? Shimon Peres is your man.

A newly released video (in Hebrew with English subtitles) from the Peres Center for Peace has the former president seeking help from an unemployment office.

Turns out, the 91-year-old shows an impressive range of skills. from pumping gas to pizza delivery, with a skydiving session or two thrown in for good measure. Given his ability to perform these tasks with a straight face, we would settle for a Shimon Peres TV show (with your host, “Shimi P!”)

The clip, while silly and — at times— actually funny, also offers not-so-subtle messages showcasing Peres’ insights on everything from Israeli technology to the peace process.

Watch the full clip below:



Happy Hobbit Day, the Jewish Way

By Anne Cohen

Every year, a great day dawns on Middle Earth. I’m speaking of course, of September 22 — Hobbit Day, for those who didn’t grow up on a steady diet of tales of rings, angry wizards, and small creatures with big feet.

According to “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings,” both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins are said to be born on September 22, though on different years (Bilbo in the year of 2890 and Frodo in the year 2968 in the Third Age —  yes, I looked it up. This is, sadly, not knowledge I carry in my brain at all times).

In addition to celebrating two of the Shire’s most adventurous citizens, Hobbit Day also launches Tolkien Week, celebrated every year since it was launched in 1978 by the American Tolkien Society.

Which brings us to the Jewish connexion. No, Frodo and Bilbo are not secret Jews (believe me, I tried to make that theory work). And as Seth Rogovoy pointed out in his review of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”: “Sometimes, a bearded, money-grubbing dwarf is just a bearded, money-grubbing dwarf and not an evil, anti-Semitic stand-in for Jews.”

But J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of Middle Earth, Elvish, Sauron and the One Ring, was something of a Judeophile. When asked to provide verification of his Aryan status for a German publisher that wanted to put out a German translation of his work, Tolkien refused:

“I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware noone (sic) of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.”

Describing the incident to a friend, he wrote:

“Do I suffer this impertinence because of the possession of a German name, or do their lunatic laws require a certificate of arisch origin from all persons of all countries?… Personally I should be inclined to refuse to give any Bestatigung [confirmation] (although it happens that I can), and let a German translation go hang. In any case I should object strongly to any such declaration appearing in print. I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.”

And so, on this most auspicious of days, we here at the Forward wish Frodo and Bilbo Baggins a very happy birthday! (Pro-tip: If you want to celebrate in a quiet and non-life threatening way, maybe make sure Gandalf’s invite gets lost on the way)


Rabbi Joseph Potasnik Gets Jan Karski Humanitarian Award

By Masha Leon

Welcoming the overflow crowd at the Jan Karski Humanitarian Award 2014 ceremony at the Polish Consulate honoring Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, and Polish rescuer Irena Sendler, was consul general Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka who thanked members of the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee — Polish American Congress, the N.Y. Downstate Division and the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee —  for their dedication to their noble mission.”

Addressing an assemblage that included a sizeable number of Polish-Jewish survivors, cantor Joseph Malovany and the Forward’s publisher Samuel Norich, the consul thanked The Committee — whose members are predominantly Catholic priests and rabbis — “for their dedication to their noble mission” and amplified that “the Jan Karski Humanitarian Award ceremony is a perfect example of fruitful cooperation between Polish diaspora organizations on the one hand and American-Jewish organizations on the other.” She noted that “Pope John Paul II, who visited a synagogue in Rome and prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, considered anti-Semitism a sin and called the Jews…’Christians’ brothers-in faith,’ During his papacy he encouraged a very difficult Polish-Jewish dialogue” believing that “this dialogue was necessary to overcome stereotypes and prejudices.”

Polish Children’s Choir, Consul General Ziomecka and Rabbi Potasnik // Photo by Masha Leon

Accepting the award from Rabbi Moshe Birnbaum of the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills, Potasnik reflected upon the nobility of some Poles who “at a time when Poles risked their own families’ lives by helping Jews” like “the Polish Catholic family who hid Jews even when their children got scarlet fever sharing all with their Jewish charges.”

There was a video presentation of Janina Zghrzembska “ remembering her mother Irena Sendler who saved over 2500 Jewish children she smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto. And a delightful treat was the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church of Maspeth Queens’ Children Choir whose beautifully articulated Polish repertoire included a song about God and David, one about Noah’s Ark and [in English] “We Are The World.” The assemblage was informed that the choir included Polish children of the Moslem faith.

The Jan Karski award is named in honor of a Polish patriot, a Catholic, and hero of the Polish Resistance, who brought news to the West of the destruction of Eastern European Jewry who had been secretly smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto by a Zionist and a Bundist to be an eyewitness to the destruction. He is recognized at Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among Nations.”

Contributors to this event included representatives of the Flushing Jewish Community Council, Queens Jewish Historical Society, Father Witold Mroziewski, of Holy Cross Church, Maspeth, Queens and Monsignor Peter Zendzian of St. Matthias Church Ridgewood, Queens who read the invocation.

I would not be writing this were it not for a Polish peasant woman who risked her life and that of her family to hide my mother and me in her hut — next to a Nazi guard cabin! — during our flight from Warsaw. When my mother offered to pay her something she refused and said, ”It is my Christian duty.” She also told my mother that during WW I, as a young girl, someone hid her and saved her life and she felt the obligation to “return the favor.”


Apparently, Kate Hudson Sees Dead People

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn have a very special talent — and it’s not acting.

Apparently, the Jewish mother-daughter duo spend quality time together interacting with ghosts.

The subject came up during an interview with British talk show host Alan Carr, set to air later tonight. Here are a couple of soundbites (via The Independent):

Me and my mum Goldie can see dead people,” said a dead pan Hudson.

“It is not really seeing, it is feeling a spirit; a fifth energy.”

“I believe in energy. I believe our brains can manifest into visual things.”

Cue the “Sixth Sense” memes.


4 Jewish Ways To Talk Like a Pirate

By Anne Cohen

Ahoy mateys!

Arrr ye ready? September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Aye aye! To celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of the most fearsome Jews ever to sail the seas.

Thar be more than ye think.

1) Jean Lafitte

This French-American pirate, who sailed the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century, claimed Jewish ancestry through his grandparents in a journal entry. When the United States passed the Embargo Act of 1807, prohibiting American trade with England France, he smuggled tobacco and sugar into New Orleans.


2) Moses Cohen Henriques

Fueled by a thirst for revenge for the Spanish Inquisition, this Sephardic pirate helped plan one of the biggest pilferages against Spain. In 1628, Henriques and Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, boarded a number of ships loaded with gold and silver from the New World off the coast of Cuba. The total haul was worth approximately $1 billion USD in today’s currency. According to the Jewish Journal, Henriques was never caught, and founded his own pirate colony on an island off the coast of Brazil. When the Portuguese reconquered Brazil, Henriques fell in with Henry Morgan, one of the most ruthless privateers ever to sail along the Spanish Main.


3) The Great Jew

Another Sephardic pirate — sensing a trend? Born in Spain, Sinan Reis and his family fled the Inquisition and settled in Ottoman-ruled ruled Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey), where he sailed as a Barbary corsair under the famed admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa. His victory at the 1538 Battle of Preveza earned him the nickname “Great Jew” by the Spanish. Reis later become Supreme Ottoman naval commander. He is buried in Jewish cemetery in Albania.


4) Jerry Seinfeld, First Pirate of the ’90s

No one can rock the Puffy Shirt pirate look quite like Jerry Seinfeld. We’ll let him explain how he feels about it:



Seth Rogen Hired As Professional Blunt Roller

By Gabe Friedman

Seth Rogen can roll — Shabbos or no.

The 32-year-old Jewish actor has a new job that fits his skill set: rolling blunts for rapper Wacka Flocka Flame.

On Monday, Wacka Flocka advertised for a “blunt roller” on Instagram, offering to pay $50,000 a year.

The next day, he clarified his application instructions:


Rogen, who has starred in movies such as “Pineapple Express” and “Knocked Up” (which feature heavy marijuana use) applied for the “position” by tweeting at Wacka Flocka with the hashtag #icanroll.


There was a lot of competition on Twitter, but Rogen’s experience on and off-screen clearly paid off. And as of today, things seem to be going smoothly.


However, if Rogen doesn’t work out in the long run, Wacka Flocka’s manager told the Huffington Post that they may hire James Franco, Rogen’s Jewish on-screen partner in “Pineapple Express,” as a replacement.



Gloria Steinem to Cameo on 'The Good Wife'

By Anne Cohen

Move over, Alicia Florrick — another badass lady is coming to “The Good Wife.”

Activist and author Gloria Steinem will be making a cameo appearance on the show’s sixth season, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

Steinem will play herself and face-off with Julianna Margulies’ character in the third episode of the upcoming season.

Season six promised to be one of the most star-heavy in the show’s history: David Hyde Pierce, Taye Diggs, Steven Pasquale and Connie Nielsen are also set to make appearances. Previous seasons have seen guest stars like Bill Maher, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and current NYC mayor Bill de Blasio.

Steinem, a “Good Wife” fan, has only made two other cameos, including one in the “The First Wives Club” in 1996 and on a 1995 episode of “The Larry Sanders Show.”

In an appearance on Wednesday’s “Live! With Kelly and Michael”, Margulies admitted that that she was starstruck when she ran into Steinem on set. “I made a fool of myself and then had to email her and had to apologize,” she admitted.

Don’t worry Julianna — everyone is a fool where Gloria Steinem is concerned.


Melissa Rivers Thanks Fans For Support

By Reuters

Getty Images

Melissa Rivers, the only daughter of legendary comedian Joan Rivers, who died two weeks ago following complications from an outpatient throat procedure, said her mother would have been overwhelmed by the depth of love people have shown for her.

In her first statement since Rivers’ death on Sept. 4, Melissa and her teenage son, Cooper, thanked fans for the many cards, flowers, messages and condolences they have received from around the world and through social media.

“We are forever grateful for your kindness and support in continuing to honor my mother’s legacy, and for remembering the joy and laugher that she brought to so many,” she said in a message posted on the website WhoSay.

Rivers, 81, was rushed to a New York hospital on Aug. 28 after she stopped breathing during a procedure at a Manhattan clinic. She was put on life support and died a week later.

The cause of her death is still unknown pending further tests and the State Department of Health is investigating Yorkville Endoscopy, the client where she was treated.

Rivers, who was known for her raspy voice, classic put downs and numerous cosmetic surgeries, was a pioneer for women in comedy. During a career that spanned more than 50 years, she worked as a comedy sketch writer, stand-up comedian, actress, talk show host and reality TV star.

More recently she hosted the cable TV show “Fashion Police,” commenting on the red carpet choice of Hollywood celebrities. Melissa Rivers will take part in special tribute show on Friday honoring her mother.

“Fashion Police: Celebrating Joan,” a 90-minute show, will include behind-the-scenes footage of Rivers and cast members and outtakes with celebrity guests.


Mayim Bialik Hates 'Frozen,' Jewish Girls Weep

By Anne Cohen

Oh Mayim.

Mayim, Mayim, Mayim.

Why?

In a post written for her personal blog on Kveller, Mayim Bialik has disavowed the frosty fairytale and instant cult classic that captured all our hearts this year. Yes — Mayim Bialik hates “Frozen.”

In “Why My Sons and I Hate the Movie ‘Frozen,’ the “Big Bang Theory” star and (former) favorite Jewess explains her reasons. Here they are below, with some added commentary by yours truly:

1) The Lack of Female Agency

Sure, it’s sort of hidden, but the search for a man/love/Prince is still the reigning plot line in the movie, as it is with pretty much all movies for young people which are animated. The sister’s desire to marry this guy she just met, and the other sister getting mad at her — we still have a plot about the identification of a woman being based on her desire and search to meet a man … I’ve had just enough already with this finding a man business in most every kids’ movie.”

OK. Fair enough, the plot ends on a love story. But the reason that “Frozen” has garnered such positive praise is that the search for a man plays is secondary to the love between two strong-willed and powerful sisters. Being awkward, impatient, waking up with drool on your face — these are all seen as endearing (and just, well normal) aspects of life that a girl should embrace rather than hide. Anna is every girl who has made a bad decision about a man. It’s only fair that she gets her happy ending at the end.

While I don’t love the fact that there has to be a love interest in just about every movie for it to be profitable, it’s not something that will just suddenly disappear overnight. “Frozen” is one step on that path.

2) Man-bashing

“What happens in Frozen? The Prince/hero turns out to be a scheming villain. He pretended to love her and then he double crosses her and she gets the lesson taught to her not to trust those nasty scheming conniving men. Because you know, men can’t be trusted? Meh.

So, just so I understand — we’re upset that the movie centers around finding a man but also outraged that said man turns out to be an a**hole? Telling young girls that not every Prince Charming that glances their way will turn out to be that great seems like a reasonable life lesson to me. That being said, let’s not forget Kristof, that shaggy, socially inept, adorable lug of a guy that Anna ends up with at the end. There is hope for all of us.

3) Absurdly tiny waists

“My biggest problem with this movie was the way the female characters are drawn and animated,” the 38-year-old star concluded. “The male characters look like cartoon men. They have some exaggerated features, sure. But by and large, they look like they have the proportions of human beings. Not so with our lead ladies. They have ginormous eyes. Like really ridiculously big. Teeny-tiny ski slope noses … Barbie doll proportions of their bodies in general: tiny waists, ample busts, and huge heads. They look like dolls. They don’t look like the same species as the male characters even! What’s up with that?!”

This one I can get behind. Disney princesses, much like Barbie, are known for their ridiculous proportions. Case-in-point: Princess Jasmine. How can she even breathe?


Joan Rivers' Doctor Took Selfie During Surgery

By Anne cohen

Getty Images

Well this is a new low.

It seems that Joan Rivers’ doctor took a selfie with the late comedian’s unconscious body while she was under anesthesia. The 81-year-old was at Manhattan’s Yorkville Endoscopy clinic for a scheduled endoscopy by gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence Cohen. Once that procedure ended, a biopsy was done on Rivers’ vocal cords without her consent by another doctor, according to a source in the clinic. That procedure led to the heart attack that killed her.

Though Cohen has since been let go from the clinic, the doctor responsible for the biopsy has not yet been identified.

Teary-tributes are still pouring out for Rivers, who died on August 29. Just yesterday, Jerry Seinfeld revealed that Rivers was to be a guest on the new season of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”:

“I just came across this heartbreaking text on my phone from August 19th. I had asked Joan Rivers to be our lead guest on the new season of Comedians in Cars, and she was thrilled. Then we got a call saying she was going in for a medical procedure and needed to postpone.” He continued: “I would have loved to have shown another side of her. I wanted to tell her how much I admire all she had accomplished, especially in the latter stages of her career. She was one of the greats. I’ll miss her.”

Fellow comedian Billy Eichner, star of “Billy on the Street,” wrote a moving essay about Rivers in the September 19/26 of Entertainment Weekly:

I’ll remember going to Joan and Melissa’s Passover seder at Melissa’s house in L.A. last year. As she led us through the traditional Passover rituals, Joan sprinkled in a few jokes about Lady Gaga amid the Hebrew prayers. It’s important to note that this was the only seder I’d ever been to where waiters in black tie served you the matzo, and certainly the only one I’d ever been to where I was seated between Rod Stewart’s manager and Lesley Ann Warren.


How About a Swastika With Your Uber?

By Rachel Delia Benaim

JPUpdates.com, DNAInfo

As if Uber hasn’t gotten enough negative press this month, the NYPD is investigating the flyers showing swastikas above the taxi app’s logo that have mysteriously appeared on Bedford Avenue, in Brooklyn.

Officer’s in NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force division officers are investigating the flyers, posted Monday night, as a potential hate crime.

“Uber is not involved with this disgusting act of hatred” Josh Mohrer, general manager for Uber in New York, said in a statement.

As New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer points out, the handouts may very well be a tasteless transportation protest as opposed to an anti-Semitic hate crime. But putting up the flyers in Hasidic Williamsburg — really?

The NYPD investigation is ongoing.


Crashing Fashion Week for a Bat Mitzvah

By Anne Cohen

Marc Jacobs models walk the runway at New York Fashion Week // Getty Images

Many a preteen has done a crazy thing or two for the perfect bar/bat mitzvah.

For Chloe Cornell, that meant crashing the Marc Jacobs show at New York Fashion Week with six of her closest friends, all wearing t-shirts bearing the Chanel logo (Chloe Cornell, Coco Chanel, same dif). Apparently, the 12-year-old from Westchester County just wanted the perfect opening shot for her bat mitzvah reel.

Per The Cut

Hi, Chloe! Tell me about these photographs of you with your friends outside of the Marc Jacobs show, wearing “Chanel” shirts. My initials are CC, so for my bat mitzvah we decided to do a Chanel theme.

Did you design the shirts? My mom and I designed them. We designed different ones so it would look more interesting.

Tell me about what you were doing outside of the Marc Jacobs show. It’s was a video shoot for [the] montage for my entry video before I walk into my bat mitzvah. It’s going to play and everyone is going to see it.

Was there a script? All my friends were pretending to be my fashion followers. They’re wearing all my clothes, and I was supposed to be the fashion designer. They were outside the Marc Jacobs show, pretending they were waiting outside for my show. My videographer person was telling them a script to say that was related to my bat mitzvah and the fashion show, so it would work for both. They were like, I’m so excited! and all this stuff.

Chloe Cornell joins a growing cast of what I like to call the “Bling Mitzvah Kids.” Remember Sam Horowitz, whose burlesque-themed party involved him descending from the ceiling into a crowd of scantily-clad Vegas showgirls?

Welcome to adulthood guys.

[h/t Tablet]


Babs Is Back on 'Tonight Show' — 51 Years Later

By Anne Cohen

Yesterday marked Barbara Streisand’s big return to the “Tonight Show.”

Why is this a big deal? Well, the last time Babs appeared on the show (with Johnny Carson as host), Kennedy was president, America had never heard of the Beatles and the Berlin Wall was still something new. In 1963, and the singer was just 21 years old, with two fresh grammies under her belt for her first album — “The Barbra Streisand Album.”

51 years later, the host is Jimmy Fallon, and Babs, well, is still very much Babs. The two celebrated Streisand’s new album, “Partners,” by singing a medley of duets, with Fallon channeling Elvis Presley, Blake Shelton and John Legend.

He even tried to sneak a kiss.

Check out the clip below:


The Luck of the Yiddish: 'Godot' At First Irish NYC Theater Fest

By Masha Leon

Mingling with the guests at the Origins First Irish Theatre Festival Launch party I spotted Yoel and Avram Weisshauss — two bearded Satmars.

I asked in Yiddish: “Vos epes. farvos zaynd ir do?” (“Why are you here?”) Both answered me with a Yiddish-style shrug.

Held at Mutual of America’s Park Avenue headquarters and hosted by its CEO Thomas Moran, speakers included Origin Theatre Company’s artistic director George Heslin and newly appointed to New York Ireland’s consul general Barbara Jones whose brogue articulation added linguistic charm to the event.

In its seven-year history, Origin — the world’s only all Irish theatre festival —  has presented works by 100 Irish writers and this year — an historic Yiddish production of “Waiting for Godot.”

While Yiddish Godot director Moshe Yassur and cast member David Mandelbaum mingled with guests enjoying a fabulous buffet table, an excited Shane Baker was besieged by admirers and ecstatic about its inclusion as “a new play” in the competition of the Northern Ireland 2014 Origins First Irish Festival in Dublin.

Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum and Yoel Weisshaus // Photo by Masha Leon

Shane — who translated Godot into Yiddish and starred in its original run in New York City last year — as well as in its current production in New York — beamed: “They gave us the theater at the Portora School (founded in 1608 by James I of England) where Beckett and Oscar Wilde had gone to school! The first night there were eight people. The second—seventeen. On Saturday, the house was full. We had ten performances—more than any other show [in the festival] . We had seats in the hall!” Among the theatergoers, Beckett’s nephew Edward Beckett.

At “Godot’s” return to New York as part of the Festival, there have been post-performance panel discussions with, among others, Yiddish theater maven and author Nahma Sandrow and, as I was told, one lady confessing “This is my third time seeing it!.”

As for Yoel and Avram — never got a clear answer as to why they were there — but ever smiling, they were the darlings of the photo corps posing with all the principals and guests.

You can still relish the amazing Yiddish “Godot” experience at the Barrow Street Theatre (212) 868-444 September 18, 19 and 20th at 7:30 with a final performance on September 21 at 2 p.m. For the Yiddish challenged there are superb super titles…. and oh, such tam!


Another Offensive Sweatshirt, Courtesy of Urban Outfitters

By Hody Nemes

Urban Outfitters has done it again. The (once) hip clothing giant took flack this week after listing an eyebrow-raising product for sale: a Kent State sweatshirt with a blood-spatter design.

The sweatshirt seems to be a poorly-conceived nod to the Kent State shootings of 1970, in which Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd of students protesting the Vietnam war, killing four. Three of the students killed that day — Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer, and Jeffrey Miller — were Jewish, and Kent State’s Hillel rabbi led early efforts to memorialize the shootings.

The price tag? Try $130.

As part of its “vintage” collection, Urban Outfitters only made one of the sweatshirts available for purchase on its website, and the item is currently listed as “sold out.” But that hasn’t stopped the criticism from rolling in.

Kent State University described the sweatshirt’s sale as “beyond poor taste” and invited Urban Outfitters’ executives to visit its campus memorial to the shootings, according to the Washington Post. The company has since apologized, but denied that the shirt was an allusion to the Kent State shootings.

This is not the first time Urban Outfitters has proven just how badly its staff needs sensitivity training. Black leaders condemned its 2003 parody of Monopoly, “Ghettopoly,” which included game cards that read, “You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50.” That same year, the clothing chain released a shirt with words, “Everyone loves a Jewish girl,” surrounded by dollar signs and shopping bags.


That Time Drake Was in 'Harry Potter'

By Anne Cohen

When I was in 5th grade, I had a deep dark secret. Upon turning 11, I fully expected to receive a letter by owl post, summoning me to join my class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Judging by the picture Drake posted to Instagram this weekend, it seems I wasn’t the only one.

The Jewish Canadian rapper captioned this little gem: “Me at Hogwarts scheming on Hermoine #DrakeOMalfoy #CantStandMuggles”

But Drake — come on: It’s HerMIOne, not HerMOIne.

Swish and flick on out of here.


Amy Winehouse Statue Unveiled in London

By Anne Cohen

Mitch Winehouse with the statue of his daughter, singer Amy Winehouse // Getty Images

Amy Winehouse can once again be seen hanging around Camden, north London.

A life-size bronze statue of the late singer was unveiled on Sunday, three years after the Winehouse’s death from alcohol poisoning, on what would have been her 31st birthday.

Her father, Mitch Winehouse, called on all her fans to join in on the ceremony:

The statue, designed by artist Scott Eaton, immortalizes Winehouse in a short, strapless dress, with a Star of David necklace around her neck, and a real red rose tucked into her signature beehive hairstyle.

“It’s a day of incredibly mixed emotions,” Mitch told The Guardian. “They don’t put statues up for people who are with us anymore so it reinforces the fact that physically she’s gone but spiritually she’ll never leave us. I feel sad, very, very sad. We shouldn’t be here but we are, this is the reality and we’ve just got to make the most of it. So this statue is part of making the most of it. Getting people to come here, spend some time with Amy and put a flower in her hair and remember her in a very positive way. That for me is wonderful.”


Jewish Athletes Bumped from '36 Olympics — A Chat With Samuel Bernstein

By Masha Leon

Having known John Slade (ne Hans Schlessinger) — once senior managing director of Bear, Sears & Co. who died at 97 in 2005 — a German Jew barred from Germany’s field hockey team in the 1936 Olympics, I looked forward to “Olympics Uber Alles,” a new play by Samuel Bernstein and Marguerite Krupp which deals with the politics behind the exclusion of American Jewish Olympic runners Marty Glickman and Sam Stoler from the 1936 Berlin Games.

As my Scots teacher, Ms. MacKenzie at Alfred Joyce School in Montreal drummed into me: “If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all. [or] find something good to say” which is why I sought out Bernstein for a chat.

A professor of English at Northwestern University, his collaborator Marguerite Krupp, a researcher at Northwestern — according to program notes —  “brings the Catholic perspective” to the well-intentioned play about the battle to mount an exhibit at a fictitious museum dealing with anti-Semitism and the exclusion of American runners Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller from the 1936 Olympics.

Olympics Uber Alles

A charming man, Bernstein told me that his parents are from Poland…that he knew Jewish literature and “was familiar with the Holocaust… an experience that is a rich part of my life.” How did the play come about? ’ I asked. “I was riding in a car, [my] wife, reading about the Olympics. She was shocked by the unethical behavior of sports figures involved directly and indirectly in the Olympics movement in keeping Glickman and Stoller out… She said, ‘Sam, that’s the play you ought to write.’”

“What about the characters in the play objecting to a Holocaust exhibit? Who was Edelman?” I had racked my brain thinking it was a name I should have known. “They are all fictitious,” said Bernstein. “The museum is fictitious, Edelman is fictitious” — as is the final romantic rapprochement between the nonexistent museum’s fictitious Jewish professor and fictitious blonde Catholic curator.

Zigzagging between the 1936 Olympics skullduggery that kept Glickman and Stoller out of the running, the play offers a warp speed recitative of 2000 years of anti-Jewish atrocities worthy of a semester-long college-level course that includes — if I remember correctly — the Bar Kochba revolt, the Second Crusade, the York massacre — all preambles to Hitlerian anti-Semitism. This montage, with its 8-strong heroic cast speedily switching into 41 roles concludes with the birth of Israel and the cast singing “Hatikvah” (for which no one in my audience stood up).

How did you cast the players?” I asked Bernstein. “Most of the members in the play are not Jewish. I think what happens [in the play] becomes so moving to non-Jews who are deeply affected…. One actor came to me and said ‘I am so proud to be part of a play that is so meaningful and enables people to transcend the Jewish parameters of the play.’”

Why, I wonder, would you want to transcend the Jewish parameters of the play when the central players are Jewish, and the the historical subtext is one of Jewish persecution over the ages?

P.S. John Slade went on to play on America’s field hockey team in the 1948 Olympics.


Monica Lewinsky on #CelebGate

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Monica Lewinsky knows a thing or two about having her privacy violated.

In an essay written for Vanity Fair called “Nude Traffic: When Have We Crossed the Double Yellow Line?” the woman of little blue dress fame shares her perspective on the hacking scandal that saw scores of private nude photos of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton leaked for all the Internet to see.

But enough about that — we know what you want (and therein lies the conundrum). As one could expect, Lewinsky begins her piece with her own anecdote about celebrity nude photo hacking:

“I hate to break it to you, but there are seductive pictures of you in lingerie floating around the web.” I was mortified. That was the gist, several months ago, from a friend gingerly alerting me to the news that some suggestive—and presumably private—photos had made their way into the public domain.

I was both relieved and shocked to see that the pictures purporting to be me, were not me. While I wouldn’t mind having the figure of this “Monica” (no cellulite), I was disturbed by the notion that people might think I’d posed in this way and given permission to have them released (or, worse, been paid for them). On a normal-size screen the model looked more like a Kardashian than a Lewinsky. But on smaller handheld devices, I could see some resemblance.

The fake scare, Lewinsky continues, brought back memories of other very private things being made public (with arguably more serious consequences):

In 1998, more than 20 hours of surreptitiously audiotaped (and often inane) “girl talk” between my putative friend Linda Tripp and me (conversations that were largely about diets and the detritus of everyday life) were published on C-SPAN. This is a far cry from the horror of having one’s personal cache of nude photos hacked and disseminated worldwide, but the searing embarrassment and stinging humiliation are still there.

For all of our Instagram-enabled narcissism these days, there is no small degree of assault involved in having our private thoughts, our private conversations, our private photos dished up for the amusement and entertainment of the masses. Like so many others, I feel outrage—as a fellow victim, as a civilized individual, and as a woman—when other women are so easily and publicly violated. And I have found myself wondering: Have we become a world of pathetic voyeurs? Are we turning into scruffy old men in dirty raincoats slouched in the back row at the Gotham City theater? Or, millions of Tom the Tailors, about whom the phrase “Peeping Tom” was coined—after the character who peered through his shutters as Lady Godiva rode the streets of Coventry? (Let’s not forget that, according to legend, he was then struck blind.)

For the fully story, and a useful highway safety analogy to put ethics in perspective, click over to Vanity Fair.


Here's What Dr. Ruth Thinks of The Apple Watch

By Anne Cohen

No one is immune to the lure of the Apple Watch. Not even Dr. Ruth.

The Jewish sex therapist took to Twitter to give potential customers a valuable piece of advice:

She’s not kidding. As Mic points out, people can’t seem to put down their mobile devices long enough for — well, you know:

  • A July 2013 survey of British women found that that 62% of women have interrupted sexual intercourse to check their cell phone. Some 48% of men admitted to doing the same.

  • A March 2014 survey by condom maker Durex found that 15% of those surveyed “would answer the phone or read a text while otherwise engaged in a sexual act.”

  • The same Durex survey found that 5% of British respondents admitted to browsing Facebook while having sex.

Listen to Dr. Ruth. She knows best.


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