The Shmooze

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Talk Talmud

By Anne Cohen

It was a Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert lovefest last night as the comedian appeared on “The Colbert Report” to promote his new film, “Rosewater.”

Colbert, who let’s remember, got his start on “The Daily Show,” threatened to expose some dark secrets about what goes on behind closed doors. Jon Stewart’s response was to do a pretty impeccable Jewish sage impression.

“I’m going to say something to you, and you know this,” Stewart quipped. “Behind closed doors I only quote rabbinical texts. You know that. There is no dark secret, there is no hidden agenda, I am merely an arbiter of biblical law.”

Laughing, he added: “If you want to have a Talmudic discussion, I’m happy to have it.”

Please comedy gods, make it so.

Watch the whole clip below.

[h/t Tablet]


Stacy London Wants to Give You a 'Make-Under'

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Dust off those 360 degree mirrors, ladies — Stacy London is back to clean out your closet.

The co-host of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” which ended in 2013 after a 10-season run(RIP) has signed on for a new show, People Magazine reports. And yes, it’s still fashion-focused.

Called “Love, Lust, or Run,” the new series shows London giving “make-unders” to women who just have waaay too much going on in the makeup/clothes department (I nominate Snookie!).

“I’m super excited to be back,” London told people. “I was burnt out after What Not to Wear. It was a good amount of time for me to take off. I rested and did a lot of traveling, it was amazing!”

“It was an easy thing to say yes to,” she added about her new show “Everyone here is like family and it felt like the right time.”

“Love, Lust, or Run” premieres Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. on TLC.


Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Racist Jokes

By Anne Cohen

If you’re anything like me, you spent a good part of the early aughts nose deep in a truly depressing series of books.

I’m referring of course, to “A Series of Unfortunate Events” which tells the woeful tale of a trio of orphan siblings trying to escape the clutches of the devious Count Olaf. Well now, Jewish author Daniel Handler, who wrote the books under the pen name Lemony Snicket, has his own very real series of unfortunate events to write home about.

At a ceremony announcing the winners of the National Book Award last night, Handler made an unfortunate joke while presenting the award for young people’s literature to Jacqueline Woodson, a black woman and author of “Brown Girl Dreaming.”

I told you! I told Jackie she was going to win. And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned this summer, which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind.

And I said you have to put that in a book. And she said, you put that in a book. And I said I am only writing a book about a black girl who is allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornell West, Toni Morrison, and Barack Obama saying,”This guy’s okay. This guy’s fine.”

The offensive attempt at humor referenced a racist trope that black people like watermelon. The backlash was almost instantaneous.

Read more


Justin Bieber Hangs With L.A. Rabbi

By JTA

Getty Images

Pop star Justin Bieber spent three hours meeting with a rabbi in Los Angeles.

Bieber on Wednesday visited the Westside Jewish Community Center, the celebrity news website X17.com reported.

The singer “is on a spiritual journey,” according to X17, and reportedly has stopped using drugs and gotten rid of his entourage.

Bieber reportedly was scheduled to spend two weeks with a Christian pastor but apparently cut short his visit. The Christian Post reported that he was “learning how to spread the Word of God.”

Though raised primarily in his mother’s Christian faith, Bieber’s has a connection to the Tribe through his on-again-off-again father, Jeremy, who is Jewish. The pair snapped a pic while on a 2011 trip to Israel, showcasing their matching Hebrew tattoos.

In April 2013, Bieber was criticized for writing in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam that he hoped she “would have been a Belieber.” He visited the museum before playing a concert in nearby Arnhem.


Diane Von Furstenberg's $12M Push To Restore Venice Ghetto

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

The world’s oldest ghetto is about to get a makeover.

Jewish-German designer Diane von Furstenberg is launching a $12 million initiative to restore the 500-year-old Venice Ghetto, i24 News reports. Von Furstenberg is spearheading the project, which would include rebuilding the neighborhood’s various synagogues, with real estate investor Joseph Sitt and other philanthropists contributing.

The ghetto was created in 1516 by the Doges of Venice as an alternative to expelling Jews from the city entirely. When the renovations are completed (reportedly in 2016, just in time for the 500th anniversary), the ghetto will become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“As much as this renovation is about preserving the past and the rich history of the Venetian and Jewish communities, today is about the future,” Von Furstenberg stated. “All of us are responsible for making sure that future generations – 500 years from today – have access to these stories of human culture and progress.”


How Mike Nichols Was Related to Everyone

By Nathan Burstein

Photos: Getty Images

This article was first published in the February 26, 2010 issue of the Forward.

On the celebrity family tree, a Jewish film director has been revealed as the missing link among Albert Einstein, Meryl Streep and TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Mike Nichols, the Oscar-winning director of the 1967 film “The Graduate,” learned that he shared connections with a surprising set of “cousins” in “Faces of America,” a new PBS series that traces the background of a dozen prominent participants. Hosted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the show uses a combination of genealogical records and DNA testing to make a series of unexpected discoveries, some of them stretching back dozens of generations.

For Nichols, born in Berlin in 1931 as Michael Igor Peschkowsky, those discoveries both confirmed old family legends and turned up new information. In a vindication of the filmmaker’s mother, genealogical records showed that Nichols’s great-grandfather was indeed a second cousin to Einstein — a claim the filmmaker said he’d long dismissed as family lore.

Read more


Google Doodle Pays Tribute to Ofra Haza

By Sigal Samuel

The Israeli Google homepage pays tribute to Ofra Haza

Israelis visiting the Google homepage today got a fun surprise, in the form of a Google Doodle dedicated to the one and only Ofra Haza.

Haza, a famous Israeli singer of Yemenite Jewish heritage, died in 2000 of AIDS-related pneumonia. She was 42. Today would have been her 57th birthday.

Sometimes called “the Madonna of the East,” Haza was known for her unique fusion of Eastern and Western musical traditions — a style that managed to charm audiences in both Israel and Arab countries. Israeli musical heavyweights like Naomi Shemer and Ehud Manor contributed to her albums, and she later collaborated with everyone from Paula Abdul to Iggy Pop to Michael Jackson. In 1983, she won second place in the Eurovision Song Contest.

My favorite Haza single is “Im Nin’alu,” which became a huge international hit back in the eighties. This is the Haza I like best — her early stuff, the very strongly Yemenite-inflected music, from before she started singing in a more commercial Israeli vein.

The lyrics — ”Even if the gates of the rich are locked, the gates of heaven are never locked” — are taken from a poem by 17th-century Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, and always make me think of the ancient rabbinic saying, “Even if the gates of heaven are locked, the gates of tears are never locked.” Haza’s use of the flipped phrase reminds me of her modest upbringing: Before she became a world-famous singer, Haza was the youngest child in a Mizrahi family of nine, growing up in one of Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods.

Watch, enjoy, and join me in laughing at the way Haza’s producers (for some inexplicable reason) felt the need to roll the credits exactly halfway through the music video.



Deborah Lipstadt Speaks At U.S. Holocaust Museum Dinner

By Masha Leon

“The world is in chaos,” began Sara Bloomfield, Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, addressing the 400 guests at its Annual 2014 Dinner at The Plaza. “Ukraine and Russia, Hong Kong and China, ISIS and Iran, the Middle East and anti-Semitism in the very land of The Holocaust. Communism, Nazism, Islamism all offers a sense of empowerment to those seeking simple answers to complex problems. Needing a scapegoat to rationalize their totalitarian world view…we were reminded on 9/11 that the unthinkable is always possible. This is the truth the Museum teaches every day.”

Keynote speaker Deborah E. Lipstadt upped the angst level with the curtain raiser: “What is the definition of a Jewish telegram? “’Start worrying — details to follow.’” After the laughter subsided, Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, informed that United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron “who erev Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur sent a message to the UK rabbis, first wishing the Jews a good year then, acknowledging that many in the Jewish communities are feeling anxious, assuring them that “it would be safe for their children and grandchildren to live in Britain.”

Karen Leon
Deborah Lipstadt

She cited Germany’s Angela Merkel’s appearance at a demonstration against anti-Semitism at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate stating: “’Anyone who hits anyone wearing a scull cap is hitting all of us… Anyone who damages a Jewish gravestone is disgracing our culture. Anyone who attacks a synagogue is attacking the foundation of our free society.’” She cited a march in Berlin with the slogan “Hamas, Hamas Juden in Gas” and recalled the 1944 deportation of the ancient community of Jews of Rhodes to Auschwitz “in the summer of 1944 after the Normandy landing, when Rome and parts of Poland had been liberated!”

“We can’t be afraid. We can’t be angry. We can’t go from being exclamation points to being question marks,” said Lipstadt. “ We are here to support the Holocaust Museum [that] tells the story of one of the greatest tragedies not only in Jewish history but in human history — a dedication to murder that beggars the imagination and extends the tragedy beyond the confines of Jewish history.”

“And where does this museum sit?” she posited. “Not in some God-forsaken corner of D.C. but adjacent to America’s most public square — The Washington Mall —less than a mile from the White House.” Concluding with a smile, Lipstadt suggested: “ I don’t want to leave you this evening depressed — just a little bit depressed. It comes with our DNA.”

The event honored former Attorney General of the U.S. Michael S. Mukasey, a member of the Museum’s presidentially appointed Council who presented the museum with the U.S. Department of Justice records on the prosecution of Nazi War criminals. Also honored was Budapest-born Holocaust survivor Eva Cooper and survivors and their descendants in the audience were asked to stand up and were applauded. In a lightning speed appearance, N.Y. State Senator Chuck Schumer — referencing Cooper’s survival saga — urged “It is our obligation to pass along those stories generation-to-generation.”


'Frozen' Princess Sings 'Baby It’s Cold Outside'!

By Rachel Delia Benaim

Getty Images

“Do you wanna build a snowman?” ‘Cause, baby, it’s cold outside.

For the first time in forever, 2014’s favorite Frozen Jewish princess, Idina Menzel, teamed up with Michael Bublé to cover the holiday favorite, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Menzel joins a long list of Jews singing (and writing) Christmas songs.

The music video, released yesterday, is kiddie-appropriate. Two adorable munchkins sporting classic 1920s apparel dance around the lobby of a 5 star hotel. Menzel’s voice booms out of the girl in a gold flapper dress, and Bublé’s voice bubbles out of the dapper boy. (Can I just say, awww?) The casting choice is especially interesting given that the song has received its its share of criticism recently — Salon went so far as to label it a “date rape anthem.

Kids will listen because “Oh my god Queen Elsa.” Grandparents are watching because grandkids, and well, nostalgia. The too-cool-for-school 20s and 30s generation cast an ironic eye on the meaning behind the editorial choice of a Gatsby-esque narrative style video (Leo!).

If we’re being totally honest, the entire thing is pretty brilliant. Watch it here:


Will There Be a Synagogue Emoji?

By Anne Cohen

Have you ever been texting and thought: “If only there was an emoji that appropriately captured the essence of a Jewish house of worship?” Well, the emoji gods have heard your prayers.

According to Buzzfeed, 37 new emojis characters are currently being considered by the Unicode Consortium (which creates your favorite pizza slices and praying hands), including a synagogue and a menorah with nine branches. Mosque and dhyani buddha emojis are also up for debate, as are the much-anticipated burrito, taco and hot dog (kosher?).

The company has also announced that it will be releasing an option for five different kinds of skin tones for emoji faces.

There’s no official release date for these new characters, but as Buzzfeed points out, Unicode 8.0, set for release in 2015, could potentially include these updates.

Just think: Next year, the warm glow of the menorah could be coming from your iPhone.


Hitler Watercolor Expected to Fetch $60K

By Frank Simon

Courtesy of Weidler Auction House

(Reuters) — A 1914 watercolor by Adolf Hitler to be auctioned on Saturday could fetch up to 50,000 euros ($62,685) given strong global interest, a German auction house chief said on Tuesday.

Auctioneer Kathrin Weidler said the painting entitled “Standesamt und Altes Rathaus Muenchen” (Civil Registry Office and Old Town Hall of Munich) is one of about 2,000 works Hitler painted from about 1905 to 1920 as a struggling young artist.

Asked about criticism that it is tasteless to auction the Nazi dictator’s works, generally considered to be of limited artistic merit, she said complaints should be addressed to the sellers - an unidentified pair of German sisters in their 70s.

“Those who want to get worked up about this should just go ahead and get worked up about it,” Weidler told Reuters at her Weidler Auction House in Nuremberg, where Hitler held mass Nazi party rallies from 1933 to 1938.

“They should take it up with the city of Nuremberg or with those who preserved it. It’s an historical document.”

Hitler wrote in his autobiography “Mein Kampf” that his hopes as a young man of becoming an artist were dashed by his repeated rejection by Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts.

“We’ve had inquiries so far from four continents and the interest in this particular painting appears to be quite high,” Weidler said. “The interest has been high from America, Japan and across Asia. I don’t know if all these bidders will actually come to the showroom in person. It’s possible but the last time we had a painting from this artist, that didn’t happen.”

Five other Hitler paintings previously auctioned fetched as much as 80,000 euros while others went for just 5,000.

“It’s impossible to say how much it’ll go for - anything from a few thousand to something around 50,000 euros,” she said. The minimum bid has been set at 4,500 euros and 10 percent of the earnings are to be donated to charity.

Weidler said the original handwritten bill dated Sept. 25, 1916 came with the painting and was a rarity for Hitler’s art.

But that has raised doubt among critics about the painting’s provenance. They recall how hoaxer Konrad Kujauused supposed certifications of authenticity to trick some historians when he marketed what proved to be bogus “Hitler’s Diaries” in 1983.


That French Dude Who Climbed Brooklyn Bridge? He's Jewish.

By Anne Cohen

“The dog ate my homework.” “I didn’t know he/she was married.” “I called, but you didn’t pick up.”

All these are better excuses than: “Sorry officer, there was no sign in French saying I couldn’t climb the Brooklyn Bridge.”

And yet, that’s what French tourist Yonathan Souid is trying to claim. The 23-year-old was caught trying to scale the iconic New York bridge on Sunday — the third such attempt this year. The NYPD quickly spotted Souid, and ordered him down.

Now, he’s facing up to a year of jail time on charges of trespassing and second-degree reckless endangerment, the New York Post reports.

His American friends are claiming that it’s really not Souid’s fault. After all, he only wanted to get an epic photo. “There were no signs in French saying you can’t climb the bridge,” said defense lawyer James Medows. “He acted like a foolish tourist.”

“Souid comes from a small Jewish community near La Rochelle. It was such a misunderstanding. He has a strong passion for photography, so he thought, ‘I want to get a better view.’ He’s not a daredevil,” his friend Jeff Sternfeld, 24, told the New York Post. “There’s a cultural barrier. To him and people in France, they said, ‘They put him in jail for this?’”

Souid arrived in New York on Thursday and was supposed to return home on Sunday. An acquaintance told the Post that he was traveling as part of a Chabad trip. Now, it seems he’ll have to stick around and wait for his court date. As they say in France, c’est la vie.


Theodore Bikel Turns 90, Parties With Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Anne Cohen

Moment Magazine’s Nadine Epstein, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Theodore Bikel // Credit: Lloyd Wolf

Theodore Bikel, who played Tevye and Captain Von Trapp on Broadway before they got all too cool for school in Hollywood, celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday.

Over 250 guests attended the party hosted by Moment Magazine at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. Our favorite Notorious Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg also made an appearance. (Check out her outstanding blue caftan, above).

According to the Washington Post, Bikel looked pretty “spry for a nonagenarian,” and proceeded to entertain the crowd with renditions of “Edelweiss,” from “The Sound of Music” and “If I Were A Rich Man,” from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

I’ll just be over here practicing my karaoke face — for next year, you know.


Lauren Bacall's Swank Apartment Hits Market — For $26M

By Rachel Delia Benaim

Getting tired of your windowless closet, better known as a New York apartment? Or maybe you’ve decided to give your roommate —  or uninvited guests (mice I’m looking at you) — some space and are on the market for a new home.

Well, if you have a spare $26 million to drop on a new crib, super star Lauren Bacall’s 9-room apartment overlooking Central Park just hit the market, and It. Is. Epic.

Bacall, who died earlier this year, moved into the iconic Dakota Building (where John Lennon lived — and died) on New York’s Upper West Side in 1961. The real estate listing does a great job on the sell, we think. Talk about descriptive adjectives!

Retained by the original owner since the 1960’s, this rare and iconic treasure represents a true once in a life-time opportunity. Uncommonly grand in scale, one cannot help but feel awestruck by the sheer enormity of the rooms’ size and volume.

Nine lavish rooms in total, five rooms sit directly on Central Park and span approximately 100 feet of prized frontage. Breathtaking views of the park look on to the tree top canopy, with city architecture beyond, and open sky. Even exceptional for the Dakota, the ceilings soar 13 feet, and the majestic residence retains much of its exquisite 19th original detail.

One enters the residence through a private mahogany vestibule with towering doors into an elegant and exceptionally large 18 foot entry Foyer, with its own highly coveted original fireplace, unique to the Dakota only. To the right is a seemingly endless 70 foot gallery connecting the major public rooms including the Library, Great Room, and Formal Dining Room. The warm, inviting Library includes original pocket doors, fireplace, and overlooks Central Park from a floor to ceiling window with a Juliet balcony, offering a small treasure from which to enjoy the exceptional park views. The 29 foot wide Great Room offers a sprawling entertaining space with two enormous park facing windows, mantled fireplace, mahogany doors connecting the Library, and another set of mahogany double doors leading to the Gallery.

The listing goes on to describe the elegance of the formal dining room, and the ever important west wing.

So if you’re interested, get moving. Because in our dearly departed Lauren’s famous words, “Patience was not my strong point.” The market feels the same way.

Here’s a sneak peek:

[h/t Gothamist].


Mandy Patinkin Loves Model Trains

By Anne Cohen

Mandy Patinkin’s beard (and its owner, I guess) was the star of last night’s 60 Minutes profile with Bob Simon. The best part? When Mandy — sporting a pretty rockin’ purple bandana — showed off his massive toy train collection (Skip to 9:20). Shenanigans ensued, and apparently the production team ended up playing choo-choo well into the night.

They also talked “Homeland,” but come on — trains!

[h/t Vulture]


Ambassador Thomas Pickering Cited at Blue Card Gala

By Masha Leon

“It’s is one of the most beautiful organizations I have heard of in my life,” emcee Danny Burstein told the guests at Blue Card’s Annual Benefit at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Currently playing Herr Schultz in “Cabaret,” the award-nominated actor touted The Blue Card as “The only charity in the U.S. whose mission is to provide financial aid to needy and destitute Holocaust survivors including those in Wyoming.” He paused: “Who knew there were Jews in Wyoming? We give 100% of our donations to our clients [and] are the closest thing to a family that many survivors have.”

“The Blue Card is an organization that truly functions as a team,” said Blue Card president Gia Machlin who touted Blue Card’s Executive Director Masha Pearl and its staff. “They know what our clients need…when they go to dinner, the name of the place next door where they have lunch…so we are very lucky indeed.”

Karen Leon
Ambassador Thomas Pickering

“You are both generous and thinking donors…in the work you do for the people who are so much in your care,” said Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering recipient of Blue Card’s Richard C. Holbrooke Award for Social Justice. “When I came to New York to represent the U.S. at the United Nations (1989-1992) Richard went out of his way to welcome me personally…bring me around the table of his choice with leading New Yorkers….No one has achieved what Richard did… settling the Balkan conflict. [He} left us all too early…He died on the nation’s business …he gave his life to American diplomacy to our country and indeed to the service of mankind.”’

Accepting the award from Holbrooke’s wife, author-journalist Kati Marton. Pickering said “So Kati and Blue Card, thank you for the honor…Nothing I have been able to do in my life has been done alone…and for Richard that was the same watchword…. We all stand on the shoulders of many who came before.”

A special treat was a performance by still spry 97-year old Holocaust survivor singer and mandolin player Emily Kessler whose program of Ukrainian and Yiddish songs included a beautifully articulate “Oyfn Veg Shteyt a Boym” (on the road stands a tree) and Holocaust-centered lament “Vu Ahin Zol Ikh Geyn” (where shall I go?”).

The Max L. Heine Humanitarian Award was presented to Seth Klarman president and CEO of The Baupost Group, L.I.C. and a board member of Facing History and Ourselves. The Young Leadership Award was presented to Amanda Bilski a fourth generation of her family to volunteer with The Blue Card.

Sharing the table with George Heindl Austria’s Consul General and Amb. Pickering and Kati Marton, I chatted with German Consul Bernd Georg Reindl. The conversation veered toward Yiddish when I mentioned that my Litvisher Yiddish was once dubbed “Echt Schwabischn Deutch” — authentic Schwabian German. “ But of course!” exclaimed Consul Reindl. “I am from Schwabia and we use many Yiddish words.” Comparing expressions he told me: “We use the word mischpokhe all the time,” and with a smile, he added — “it refers to a particular branch of the family.” He did not specify.


Megan Amram's Simple Physics for Ladies

By Margaret Eby

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Ladies, have you wondered what planet you would weigh the least on? Or what household chemicals make the best cocktails? Or perhaps you want to know what the best birth control method is (hint: long denim skirts). Comedian Megan Amram has a book with all the answers for you.

If you’re familiar with Amram’s work, you probably also know about her particular brand of biting, acerbic humor, one that she broadcasts on her very popular (32,400 followers and counting) Twitter account and uses to her benefit on the writing staff of the hit NBC series “Parks and Recreation.”

Now, Amram has turned her attention to “Science… for Her!” a faux textbook skewering the tone of such women’s magazines as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. The book includes charts like “The Best Religion for Your Body Type” and “Fashion Staples for Each Phase of Global Warming,” pointed absurdism that’s also clever social satire.

The 27-year-old Portland, Oregon, native launched her career on Twitter, where she would practice joke writing. Before she knew it, Amram drew the attention of Academy Awards show runners, who hired her in 2011 to write jokes for that year’s Oscars. This led to writing stints for “Kroll Show,” “Childrens Hospital” and even the Disney Channel before her current position writing for “Parks and Recreation.”

The Forward’s Margaret Eby spoke to Amram about feminism, growing up Jewish and the state of the Internet.

Margaret Eby: How did you hit on the format of “Science… for Her”?

Megan Amram: I really wanted to write a comedy book, and I wanted it to be a higher-concept artifact than just a string of jokes. I noticed that a lot of the things I posted to my blog happen to be making fun of the writing in women’s magazines like Glamour or Cosmo. It would be a fun aesthetic. The end of that was making a science textbook making fun of how women don’t understand anything about science or their bodies.

Read more


Jon Stewart Slams Jews for 'Sad' Narrow-Mindedness

By Raffi Wineburg


(JTA) — Jon Stewart is no stranger to harsh criticism. Some Jews have called him a self-hater, while the Iranian media has painted him as a Mossad agent. But “The Daily Show” host wasn’t on the receiving end Tuesday when he dished out some tough love to his fellow Jews.

In an interview with Canada.com to promote his new movie, “Rosewater,” the Jewish comedian commented on a number of things he found “troubling” with Judaism and the Jewish state.

“It’s so interesting to me that people want to define who is a Jew and who is not. And normally that was done by people who weren’t Jewish but apparently now it’s done by people who are,” Stewart said. “And you can’t observe [Judaism] in the way you want to observe. And I never thought that that would be coming from brethren. I find it really sad, to be honest.”

He went on to describe certain Jewish behavior as “fascistic.”

Asked whether he could criticize Israel, Stewart’s answer was a resounding “No.” Although that’s not a new revelation.


The New Face of Streit's Matzo: Real Housewives' Jill Zarin

By Yael Even-Or

Getty Images

How about some drama with your matzo?

“Real Housewives of New York City”s Jill Zarin has apparently signed a deal with Streit’s matzo, The New York Post’s Page Six reports.

The kosher food company based in New York’s Lower East Side will pay Zarin a seven-figure sum for the endorsement deal.

The 50-year-old former “Real Housewives” participant (and wife of Bobby Zarin, New York schmatta king) published in a book titled “Secrets of a Jewish Mother” in 2010. She co-wrote with her mother, Gloria Kamen, and her sister, Lisa Wexler.

This is the first national campaign for Streit’s, which has been in business since 1925. That’s a lot of Passover stomach-aches.


French Jewish Singer Patrick Bruel Rocks Beacon Theater

By Masha Leon

“What is the mood of the Jewish community in France and your reaction to[Jean-Marie] Le Pen’s [past] comment about you?” I asked French-Jewish Algerian-born singer-actor Patrick Bruel.

We were chatting post performance at Manhattan’s Beacon Theater following the launch of his U.S. tour. “Le Pen…it’s not new,” he responded. “There have been provocations. You know who he is and what he represents. Yes, it’s hard for the Jewish community.” Admitting to the exodus of some Jews from France he said, “It’s not only the extreme right…it comes from many other sides.” I asked if it had any effect on his career. “Why would it! I am Jewish. I am very proud to be Jewish and I always said it. Everybody knows my position, everybody knows how much I want peace. All my songs are universalist.”

And his concert was indeed universalist. I suspect every French tourist and expat in New York was among the ecstatic nearly 3000 strong audience —  often on its feet — as Bruel bounded onstage with the greeting “Hello New York!…. My accent is cute — no?” The audience roared. A high decibel nearly two-hour long lights and sound show with sirens and urban and psychedelic image montages — had the audience reacting to Bruel with adoring fervor. At several points Bruel and the orchestra stopped in mid song but the audience, a mostly young crowd, continued to sing the song a capella!

Masha Leon
Patrick Bruel

Sirens, death, destruction montages…An amazing break dancing ensemble. Hip hop pyrotechnics set to a backdrop of a French inner cityscape. There was a heart wrenching song which Bruel informed was a tribute to America’s Johnny Cash “about a father who would never see his son again.”

And then Paris the city of amour surfaced with Bruel singing love songs with most of the audience joining in dancing to a waltz and couples embracing in the aisles. “She’s Gone, “ “Je Serai La Pour La Suite.” Bruel at the mic… with guitar and at the piano keyboard, he kept pointing to his watch but the audience begged for more. He kept coming back, and back and finally…. the stage went dark.

During our chat, I mentioned his film portrayal of [real life] Maxime Grimbert [ne Grinberg] in the 2008 French film “Le Secret” in which he plays a French athlete who refused to wear a Jewish Star during WWII hoping his athleticism would “separate him from the other ‘Yids’.” Bruel smiled. Commenting on one of his songs with a gypsy melodic theme, he said “That was not gypsy it was klezmer.” I insisted it was gypsy not klezemer and proceeded to sing a few bars of “ya ba bai-tchiri bim” phrases. “Ah, yes. klezmer!” he nodded. A hug and we parted. Outside the Beacon, winding lines behind barriers waiting for a sighting of Bruel.

During the performance I relished the Beacon’s Greek, Renaissance Rococo splendor. An unexpected postscript: The November 13 New York Times obituaries lists a tribute to Daniel Meltzer — a writer, teacher — who died on November 6 and in 1985 headed the “Save the Beacon” committee rescuing this landmark gem from demolition!


Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.