The Shmooze

Lena Dunham Will Guest Star on 'Scandal'

By Shelli Weinstein

“Scandal” has lined up its next big guest star. Lena Dunham has booked an appearance on the ABC drama, Variety has confirmed.

Though details of her role are being kept under wraps, Dunham is set to appear in one episode in March, and may have some involvement with Pope & Associates.

The “Girls” star has been a longtime fan of “Scandal,” and previously said that being a guest star on the show is her “life’s great passion. I want to be like, a senator who did something wrong,” she said in an interview . Dunham also took part in a “Scandal” parody during a hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live.”

Dunham is actually repped by the real-life Olivia Pope, crisis manager Judy Smith, who is the inspiration behind Kerry Washington’s character on “Scandal.” She hired Smith, along with PMK-BNC chairman and CEO Cindi Berger, earlier this year.

Entertainment Weekly first reported the news of Dunham’s guest gig.


PHOTOS: Playing and Praying in the Jerusalem Snow

By Lior Zaltzman

Jerusalem was once again blanketed in shiny snow on Friday.

From the Temple Mount to the Western Wall, neither Muslims nor Jews skipped their prayers. And children on both sides engaged in their favorite kind of fighting: snowball wars.

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What’s a little bit of snow? Prayers go on as usual at the Western Wall.

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Ultra orthodox boys shovel and play with the snow.

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You’re never too old for a snowball fight!

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Clickhole Wins the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

By Lior Zaltzman

Someone in the Clickhole (The Onion’s Buzzfeed-like equivalent) offices woke up yesterday morning with the most glorious of ideas: What better way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than through Facebook comments?

And so, the following message was posted to social media: “Want to argue about Israel and Palestine? Have at it in the comments!”

As you know, the conflict is a subject we deal with often. And well, when people have at it on our page, they really have at it — sometimes, it ain’t so pretty. Which is maybe why fellow Jewish publication Tablet has decided to charge people to comment.

But on Clickhole, the whole experience is kind of cathartic. I’m not sure whether I should thank their expert curation or if Clickhole Facebook users are just way more more respectful (unlikely), but the whole thing makes for a real enjoyable read (with the occasional inevitable troll). My husband and I lay in bed last night with our laptop, laughing our heads off at a subject that causes so many fraught and frustrating discussions in our day-to-day life. So, thank you Clickhole, for that precious gift.

Here are some choice comments:

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For Tovah Feldshuh, 'Aging is Optional'

By Masha Leon

“Happiness is a choice,” Tovah Feldshuh told me between rehearsals for her one woman world premiere show “Aging Is Optional” at 54 Below. ‘I want to grow older in linear time… to live as long as my mother Lily did.”

A Tony nominated, multiple Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards, Obie Award Winner — whose professional age-transformational highlights include her award-winning portrayal of 60-ish Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir in the long-running Broadway blockbuster “Golda’s Balcony” and as the 16-year old Polish Catholic savior of a dozen Jews Irena Opdyke in “Irena’s Vow” — Tovah stated: “I firmly believe that aging is optional because I choose doorways that keep me young…If you can align yourself comfortably in your own skin…whatever works for you. What I do not do is create an oppositional universe for myself.”

Reflecting on the show’s content — which includes music from living legends Carole King and Stephen Schwartz [“Pippin”) she was adamant about her pronouncement that “aging is a matter of ‘choice.’” “My act presents an alternative to aging which–through comedy and jumps from one time zone to another–demonstrates how letting go, pushing the ‘delete’ button, the words you say, write [that] make you angry, all affect you. He who gets angry loses the race.”

Karen Leon
Tovah Feldshuh

“I believe that the things you do and say influence your health. Depression is related to osteoporosis. My mother peppered her life with chocolate and laughter on a daily basis and is a strong presence in the act. She dispenses words of wisdom and love like a true ‘shtarke’ [heroic one] and lived — with all her faculties until 103… My hope is to live to 104.”

Queried about her on-stage costume, Tovah changed channels: “It’s silk… made for me in the silk center of Vietnam in primary colors. The three-piece ensemble allows me to be glamorous, feel free and play men as well as women.”

Referring to her recent appearance at another event at which she greeted an all-woman assemblage with: “We’re all shrinking,” I ventured: “Have you lost height?” “Yes. I’ve lost one inch in height but I do Pilates and yoga in the hope of [regaining height].”

Feldshuh also paid homage to her physically active dad. “My father came from an Austrian family. He rode, he skied — I rode a horse [side] saddle… my father was president of the Boulder Brook Equestrian Center in Scarsdale. Dad was a litigator. I based my character in an episode in “Law & Order” on my father.

Reiterating her mantras that “connecting with people is a choice that leads to health” and “anger does not work,” she told me that following her February 19 through 21 appearance at 54 Below [254 W 54 St.] “I plan to fly to Africa to climb [Mount} Kilimanjaro to implement my philosophy of the act.”

The production is directed by Jeff Harnar with musical direction by James Bassi.


Would You Let Your Jewish Grandpa on Tinder?

By Anne Cohen

You’ve heard about Jewish moms hijacking their kids’ JDate accounts — but what about grandfathers taking one for the team on Tinder?

Jewish Youtuber Ethan Cole wasn’t having much luck with the ladies. So he asked his 89-year-old zayde, Joe, for help. The plan? The pair would create a Tinder profile using a somewhat outdated picture of Joe, who would then take the lucky women out for a night on the town. Once things got weird — as they tend to do when an old guy shows up for your date — Ethan would swoop in and save the day.

What could possibly go wrong?

[h/t Mashable]


Andi Dorfman Calls 'Bachelorette' Breakup 'Biggest Failure'

By Lior Zaltzman

Getty Images

Last month, we found out that our favorite (and only!) Jewish Bachelorette, Andi Dorfman had broken off her 8-month-long engagement with Josh Murray. Hearts were broken and our faith in true love was shattered.

Andi, it seems, was just as crushed as we were.

In an interview for ‘Chris Tells All Bachelor Special’ this past Sunday , our good Jewish Bachelorette was still decidedly broken up about her broken engagement as she tearfully recounted the juicy details.

Weeping, she told Chris: “I know this is honestly the biggest failure of my life so far.”

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Behind Scenes at Fashion Week With Yigal Azrouël

By Elyssa Goodman

Fashion Week is a hurricane that sweeps through the industry. The biggest shows happen twice annually, during the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections. Designers spend months creating their visions for the upcoming seasons, and in a single day, in mere hours, it’s all over: the beautifying, the catwalking, the flash of cameras and the crowds. Until next season, that is.

I recently had the pleasure documenting the Fall/Winter 2015 collection of Yigal Azrouël, an Israeli-born designer of French Moroccan and Jewish descent (who I also mentioned in my round up of Jewish designers presenting their collections this Fashion Week).

Take a look at what happens behind the scenes, just before models take off down the runway:

No improvisation here! All of the looks from the entire collection are photographed and assembled onto a board backstage. This way, people dressing the models know exactly how each outfit should be styled and in what order they should come out during the show.


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Emile Hirsch Checks Into Alcohol Rehab

By Patricia Reaney


(Reuters) — Actor Emile Hirsch, star of the film “Into the Wild,” was being treated at an alcohol rehabilitation facility after he allegedly assaulted a film executive at the Sundance Film Festival last month in Utah, his lawyer said.

The actor had been drinking heavily that night and had no memory of the Jan. 25 incident, lawyer Robert Offer said in a statement on Thursday. Hirsch checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation facility a few days later, Offer said.

Hirsch, 29, was charged on Thursday with felony aggravated assault for allegedly putting Daniele Bernfeld, Paramount Pictures’ vice president of digital entertainment, in a chokehold at the TAO Nightclub in Park City, Utah.

According to court papers filed on Thursday, Bernfeld told police Hirsch pulled her across a table and landed on top of her on the floor and wrapped his hands around her neck.

“Emile takes these allegations very seriously, and is devastated that any of this has occurred,” Offer said in the statement.

Hirsch is due to appear in court on March 16 and could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

He has also been charged with misdemeanor intoxication, said Ryan Stack, a prosecutor with the Summit County Attorney’s office.


Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg Tipsy for State of Union?

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

If you were watching the State of the Union this year — or following on Twitter — you may have noticed Ruth Bader Ginsberg taking a little snooze during the presidential address. During a talk at The George Washington University this week, the Supreme Court Justice explained why dozed off — and no, it wasn’t Barack Obama’s soothing voice.

“The audience for the most part is awake, because they’re bobbing up and down, and we sit there, stone-faced, sober judges. But we’re not, at least I wasn’t, 100 percent sober,” she said.

“Because before we went to the State of the Union, Justice Kennedy brought in … it was an Opus something or other, very fine California wine, and I vowed this year, just sparkling water, stay away from the wine, but in the end, the dinner was so delicious, it needed wine,” Ginsburg said.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was TIPSY. (Cue “Notorious” chant.)

Apparently, her granddaughters called her out on it after the event. “I got a call when I came home from one of my granddaughters and she said, ‘Bubbe, you were sleeping at the State of the Union,” the Blaze reports Ginsberg saying.

Long live RBG, queen of our judicial system. Bow down.


6 Valentine's Day Tips From Dr. Ruth

By Anne Cohen

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Saturday is Valentine’s Day. For couples, this means chocolates, birds chirping “La Vie en Rose” and an explosion of heart-shaped confetti. If you’re single, it means burrowing under your covers with Netflix and a bottle of wine, waiting for February 15 to roll around.

Whatever category you fall under, our favorite octogenarian sex therapist — Dr. Ruth Westheimer — has some advice on how to make the most of this most wonderful/awful of holidays.

For the person planning “Singles’ Awareness Day.”


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A Chat With the Writers/Directors of 'Gett'

By Masha Leon

I don’t recall ever feeling as angry as I was after seeing “The Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” the blistering gut-wrenching must-see film by writer/directors Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz.

Warmly ensconced at The Regency Hotel during one of New York’s recent snow-ins, the Elkabetz siblings alternated in answering my questions about the film’s heroine Viviane’s (Ronit ) attempt to divorce her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian) following a 20-year untenable and loveless marriage. Not sure who angered me more: the rakhnomes-lacking didactic religious judges in the claustrophobic courtroom or the neighbors and relatives who, in Rashomon style, proffer their spin on the couple’s marriage that should long ago have been aborted.

“There are over 450,000 still open cases in Israel – some wait for twenty years to be adjudicated,” Shlomi told me. “It covers the full spectrum – every woman in Israel, secular or Orthodox, has to go through it if married and registered in Israel… There is a sense of God is punishing mei… Women are treated like property.” Commenting on the image of the Israeli woman as modern, a kibbutznik, soldier, bikini-clad beach lounger? Shlomi said, “When it comes to divorce there seems to be a democratic mantra – a gett is a gett.”

“The idea was mine,” volunteered Ronit. “I wanted to understand, to research…. it disturbed me. We had an idea to follow this woman’s life through different stages between herself and the state (Israel). But the woman’s place in this community is to submit…not show her hair, be modest.” Watching the film’s years-long delay after delay without a verdict, I flashed back to the film “Shawshank Redemption” in which, like Vivian, Morgan Freeman is asked year after year if he has repented yet and, irrespective of his reply, is denied parole.

I asked actor/director/writer Ronit – whom I first met in the delightful Israeli film “The Band Visit” – about her change of wardrobe when toward the film’s end– after years and years of soul numbing denials by rabbi-judges – the black-clad Viviane appears in court sporting a blood red shawl and flaunting her below-waist long loose hair. The film’s stark courtroom, Ronit told me, was actually much nicer than those it was modeled after. “She had no more energy,” said Ronit. “The red clothing revitalized her, woke her up. But she did not know that on that day she would be accused of being unfaithful. Caught between two rabbis she forgets herself…. it was not a provocation! Gett denied!”

“The reactions are different from age to age,” said Shlomi. “For young people it’s an occasion for rethinking about marriage …and a gett…. The Rabbinic court is so strong and political, but,” he told me: “Three hundred rabbis will be watching the film…the first time in Israeli history [they will] discuss the issues. It’s extraordinary.”

A winner of more than seven 2014 film festival awards – and most recently a selection at the New York Jewish Film Festival– “Gett” opens on February 13 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and other area theatres. Go! Applaud Ronit, tsk, tsk the judges and hiss her husband.


7 Quotes That Should Be in the New Joan Rivers Memoir

By Anne Cohen

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Joan Rivers fans who can’t afford her $28 million apartment will soon have another way to catch up with the late comedian.

AP reports that her daughter, Melissa, is writing a memoir.

“The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation” is set for publication on May 5 by Crown Archetype, a subset of Penguin. According to The Huffington Post, the book “will feature jokes, stories and advice.”

In that spirit, let’s revisit some of Joan Rivers’ pearls of wisdom:

On pets: “Don’t make friends with your dogs. The sons of bitches will literally die ahead of you and cause you grief!” (Hollywood Reporter, 2013)

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Jon Stewart's 18 Most Jewish Moments

By Hilary Saunders

Jon Stewart announced last night that after 16 years, he will be leaving Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, the news host/comedian has always infused a bit of Judaism into his satire. From the scathing to the self-deprecating, from the educational to the historical, Stewart has managed to reference his people in ways that make fellow Jews knowingly laugh with him, without ostracizing others. So in honor of Stewart’s storied career and his continued success in life, we’ve found 18 hilarious instances he honored, teased, and stood up for our people. L’chaim, Jon. L’chaim.

1) November 2, 2006 – Borat Sagdiyev


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#OyDate - A Comic about Dating Misadventures

By Lior Zaltzman

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re launching a new comics series about Jewish dating misadventures! Let’s celebrate our dating fails!

Do you have your own horrific or hilarious stories about Jewish online (or offline dating)? Tweet us a story with #OYDATE to @jdforward. Or e-mail your stories to zaltzman@forward.com with the title OYDATE - for anonymity.


Urban Outfitters Sells Holocaust-Inspired Item — Again

By JTA

The Anti-Defamation League has urged Urban Outfitters to stop selling a tapestry with a design resembling the uniform that gay male prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.

The ADL complained about the “insensitive” design of the tapestry, which features pink triangles over a gray and white pattern, in a letter to Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne.

“Whether intentional or not, this gray and white stripped pattern and pink triangle combination is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture,” the ADL’s national president, Abraham Foxman, said in a news release Monday.

Prisoners in Nazi camps were forced to wear uniforms with inverted triangles of different colors. A pink triangle indicated that the prisoner was homosexual.

Urban Outfitters has faced previous criticism from Jewish groups. In 2012, the retailer sold a T-shirt with a six-pointed star that resembled the Star of David patch worn by Jews in Nazi Germany. In 2008, the company sold a T-shirt with a picture of a Palestinian boy holding a machine gun between the words “Fresh Jive Victimized.”


You Never Would Have Failed Hebrew School With This Teacher

By Avi Bass

You’ve never heard the Aleph Bet like this. A new music video released by Israeli artist Victoria Hanna flies through the sounds of the Hebrew alphabet with an energy you couldn’t imagine as your mom drove you to Hebrew school on Sunday mornings.

Hanna performs the various sounds in a rhythmic chant, dressed as a school teacher in front of a mesmerized class of girls. But then the video explodes into the alphabetic acrostic prayer of “hoshana”, traditionally recited in synagogues on Sukkot.

Victoria Hanna is the daughter of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, and has performed with Bobby McFerrin and the Israeli group Balkan Beat Box.


Joan Rivers 'Haunted' Pad on Market for $28M

By Anne Cohen

Corcoran Group

Got a cool $28 million to spare? You could be living in Joan River’s swanky apartment, complete with four-bedrooms, 4¹/₂-bathrooms, five fireplaces and a 23-foot-high sky-blue ceiling. And, oh yeah, the ghost of J.P. Morgan’s niece.

Yes, you read right. the late comedian was so convinced that her apartment was haunted that she brought in Sallie Ann Glassman, a Jewish voodoo priestess from New Orleans, to exorcise the spirit.

“It was just very strange,” Rivers told “Celebrity Ghost Stories” in a 2009 episode. “The apartment was cold. I could never get any of my electrical things to work correctly.”

When she complained to the doorman, he said: “I guess Mrs. Spencer is back.”

The 5,000 square-foot penthouse occupies the top three floors of a seven-story Gilded Age mansion at 1 East 62nd Street. Built in 1903) by John Drexel, the house was converted into condos in the 1930s. Rivers purchased the apartment in 1988.

If gold ceilings and gaudy crystal chandeliers are your thing, then this place is definitely for you. “It’s what Marie Antoinette would have done if she had money,” Rivers once joked. The Louis XIV-inspired ballroom has hosted the likes of Nancy Reagan, Steve Forbes, Martha Stewart and Regis Philbin.

Check out the pictures below:



10 Jewish Designers to Know at New York Fashion Week

By Elyssa Goodman

This week, fashionistas will flutter through Lincoln Center, Soho, and Chelsea to see what designers have in mind for their Fall/Winter 2015 collections at New York Fashion Week, beginning on Thursday, February 12 and ending next Thursday, February 19. What you may not know, though, is that some of the hottest emerging and established designers are also members of the tribe! Take a look below to learn more about some great Jewish voices in fashion design today.

Rachel Antonoff

Rachel Antonoff began her line in Spring 2009, but since then has established a cult-like following with today’s “it girls,” like Alexa Chung and Aubrey Plaza, the latter of whom was the model for her Spring 2014 collection look book. Antonoff’s designs are feminine and vintage-inspired, with sprightly patterns and soft shapes.


Yigal Azrouel

Azrouel, who launched his line in 1998, has been participating in New York Fashion Week since 2000. He was born in Israel, of French-Moroccan Jewish descent. Azrouel is known for “an effortless tough-chic style,” which includes draping and structural details. He regularly donates to charities like UJA-Federation of New York and JFS Heart and Soul, among others.


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The Hidden Gem in Matisyahu's Medium Essay

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Sex, drugs, rock and roll — and ultra-Orthodox Judaism. What else could you expect from an essay written by Matisyahu?

“Akeda, the Binding and Unbinding…the Long Walk Back,” published in Medium, tells the moving tale of the formerly Hasidic singer/songwriter’s journey to overcome substance abuse, his religious struggle, his Bob Marley obsession, and more.

But the best line in the entire text comes when he tries to describe a niggun, or Hasidic melody, in layman’s terms.

I was dedicating myself to the cause. I moved to Crown Heights and gave up on the world. Happiness would need to come from within. I prayed and studied and prayed and studied and mikva’d and drank vodka, and ate chicken and drank vodka and sang niggunim (Chassidic melodies that sound similar to the scene in Star Wars when the bad guy’s ship is arriving). I wore the uniform (black and white just like the ideology). I believed there was something wrong with me that needed to be eradicated. That wrongness inside could be purified if I just tried hard enough.

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Babs Was Robbed — and Other Jewish Lessons From the Grammys

By John A. Oswald

Babs was robbed. The Bee Gees got short shrift. But at least the late Joan Rivers and Beck got their due (when Sam Smith wasn’t scooping up everything else.)

It was a mixed bag for Jewish artists at this year’s Grammys, which we almost had to shut off, what with host LLCoolJ constantly yelling into the camera and then the geriatric ACDC screeching something or other.

But there was one Jewish geriatric we all can be proud of, Jew and non-Jew: septuagenarian Ken Ehrlich, the Grammy telecast’s longtime executive producer who recently was honored with 2,541st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ehrlich was the driving force for the show’s dramatic and somewhat downbeat – but necessary – foray into the domestic violence issue, which in the past year has become a matter of national conversation after several high-profile case involving NFL players.

He was the one who picked up the phone to call Texas domestic violence survivor-turned-activist Brooke Axtell and ask her to marry her story and her gut-wrenching road away from her abuser with Katy Perry’s spot-on performance of “By the Grace of God.”

Add in a message from President Obama asking American’s to join a White House effort to keep the abuse fight on the front burner and you pretty much had some history unfolding.

“Join our campaign to stop this violence. Go to itsonus.org, and take the pledge. And to the artists and the Grammys tonight, I ask you to ask your fans to do it, too. It’s on us, all of us, to create a culture where violence isn’t tolerated, where survivors are supported and where all our young people, men and women, can go as far as their talents and their dreams will take them,” said in a video message.

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