The Shmooze

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.


WATCH: Bubbe Schools You in Yiddish

By Anne Cohen

You will laugh. You will cry. You will kvell.

The Los Angeles Jewish Home has put together a cute video of some of their best bubbes and zaydes explaining the meaning of Yiddish words. “Yiddish: Part One” (implying, we hope, a “Part Two”) enlightens viewers on how to use the usual suspects — mentsh, shvitz, shmuck and tuches — but also some unusual terms like geshmak.

Philologos may have some serious competition.

Enjoy (we know we did)!


READ: Melissa Rivers' Letter To Her Mother

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Joan Rivers got the kind of glamorous send-off that only she could inspire. And like the best dramatic productions, it was a tear-jerker.

As we reported, the invitation-only service, held at New York City’s Emanu-El Temple on Sunday saw a procession of stars — including Hugh Jackman (who sang — of course.), Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and Whoopi Goldberg — come to honor the late comedian.

Howard Stern’s incredibly raunchy eulogy has already made headlines — but now, the Hollywood Reporter reports that Joan’s daughter Melissa also spoke at the service, reading out a letter which will be published in an upcoming book, “A Letter to My Mom,” set for release in April.

Get those tissues ready…

Mom:

I received the note that you slipped under my bedroom door last night. I was very excited to read it, thinking that it would contain amazing, loving advice that you wanted to share with me. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and saw that it began with the salutation, “Dear Landlord.” I have reviewed your complaints and address them below:

While I appreciate your desire to “upgrade” your accommodations to a larger space, I cannot, in good conscience, move [my 13-year-old son] Cooper into the laundry room. I do agree that it will teach him a life lesson about fluffing and folding, but since I don’t foresee him having a future in dry cleaning, I must say no.

Also, I know you are a true creative genius (and I am in awe of the depth of your instincts), but breaking down a wall without my permission is not an appropriate way to express that creativity. It is not only a boundary violation but a building-code violation as well. Additionally, the repairman can’t get here until next week, so your expansion plan will have to be put on hold.

Re: Your fellow “tenant” (your word), Cooper. While I trust you with him, it is not O.K. for you to undermine my rules. It is not O.K. that you let him have chips and ice cream for dinner. It is not O.K. that you let him skip school to go to the movies. And it is really not O.K. that the movie was Last Tango in Paris.

As for your taking his friends to a “gentlemen’s club,” I accepted your rationale that it was an educational experience for the boys — and you are right, he is the most popular kid in school right now — but I’d prefer he not learn biology from those “gentlemen” and their ladies, Bambi, Trixie and Kitten. And just because I yelled at you, I do not appreciate your claim that I have created a hostile living environment.

While I’m glad to see you’re socializing, you must refill the hot tub after your parties. In fact, you need to tone down the parties altogether. Imagine my surprise when I saw the photos you posted on Facebook of your friends frolicking topless in the hot tub.

I think it’s great that you’re entertaining more often, but I can’t keep fielding complaints from the neighbors about your noisy party games like Ring Around the Walker or naked Duck, Duck Caregiver.

I’m more than happy to have you use the house for social gatherings, but you cannot rent it out, advertise as “party central” or hand out T-shirts that say “F— Jimmy Buffett.”

In closing, I hope I have satisfactorily answered your complaints and queries. I love having you live with me, and I am grateful for every minute Cooper and I have with you. You are an inspiration. You are also 30 days late with the rent.

Much love,

Melissa


Sarah Silverman To Host 'SNL' — On Yom Kippur?

By Anne Cohen

Sarah Silverman, looking like she’s hungry for an Emmy // Getty Images

By now, you may have heard that Chris Pratt will host the “Saturday Night Live” premiere on September 27.

Now, I loved “Guardians of the Galaxy,” as much as the next gal, but there’s another name on that host list that’s worth mentioning. I’m speaking, of course, about Sarah Silverman, who is returning to the SNL stage for first time since 1994.

Our favorite raunchy Jewess is set to host the season’s second episode, which will air October 4th. But wait a second, isn’t that night of Yom Kippur? (Uh oh)

Really Sarah? First a cross on W. Kamau Bell’s talk show, “Totally Biased,” and now this!

In all fairness, since SNL airs after sundown, she’s probably safe. But it should be interesting to see where the comedy goes after a whole day of fasting.


Watch Leon Wieseltier Throw Out The First Pitch of a Nationals Game

By Gabe Friedman

Leon Wieseltier, the Literary Editor of The New Republic, does not exactly look like an athlete. That’s exactly why you should watch him throw out the first pitch of a Nationals baseball game —  and then leave the field as quickly as he can.


Mel Brooks's 11-Finger Hollywood Handprint

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

When he’s not watching “Downton Abbey” with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks keeps busy by pranking future generations.

The comedian finally cemented his Hollywood legacy on Monday afternoon during the Hollywood Cement Ceremony outside Mann’s Chinese Theater (“Blazing Saddles!”). The event also marked the 40th anniversary of “Young Frankenstein.” Dressed as only Mel Brooks can be, in a white suit and floral tie, the 88-year-old wore a prosthetic finger on his left hand, proving that life imitates art.

Basically, 100 years from now, people will walk by and remark: “Wow, there’s Mel Brooks. He had 11 fingers, you know.” Genius Mel. Genius.

Brooks later tweeted about the event:

Mazel tov, Mel! Keep the laughs coming.


Cutest Maccabeat Goes Solo

By Rachel Delia Benaim

Noah ‘Noey’ Jacobson, 24, part owner and member of The Maccabeats, launched his solo career yesterday when he posted a medley covering Clean Bandits Rather Be and Nico & Vinz’s hit single “Am I Wrong.”

“I’ve been singing with the Maccabeats for five years,” he said. “At some point I said to myself, ‘I’m happiest when I’m on stage, when I’m engaging with an audience — why not consider pursuing music as a more serious option’”?

Jacobson’s cover is just a taste of what’s to come. “I have original music ready,” he said. His choice to release a cover as his first song was completely strategic. “I think it’s hard for the average listener to tap into original songs right away,” he said.

“I wanted to capitalize as much as possible on some people who might know me from Maccabeats, and show them, ‘Hey, come along for this ride, here’s a song you know and love.’”

In under twenty-four hours, the music video has already exceeded 1,600 hits.

This figure, impressive for any budding artist, is a bit of an adjustment for Jacobson. “It’s weird coming from Maccabeats where you’re guaranteed 100,000 views on basically anything you put out,” he admitted. “So it’s weird going back to rock bottom and trying to build up.”

“But that’s part of the fun, that challenge,” he added.

Read more


Of Frat Bros and Bagels

By Anne Cohen

Wikimedia Commons

Some people fight with their fists. Some use their words. And others, like these bros from Oxford, Ohio’s Miami University Phi Tau fraternity, use a bag of bagels.

According to the Daily Dot, 6 of Phi Tau’s most upstanding gentlemen were in the middle of allegedly breaking into the house of campus rivals Kappa Alpha, when they were on camera by a local bouncer.

What followed may go down in history as the Great Bagel Caper of 2014 — or that time 6 frat bros chased a guy down the street beating him with a sleeve of frozen bagels.

The bouncer, one TriicepsBrah (!!!) took to Reddit to tell his side of the story:

They followed me for 3 blocks trying to grab me and get my phone. Said they would kill me trying to punch and smacking me with a bag of begals [sic] etc. After everything is over with my phone inconveniently runs out of power. So my boss plugs it into his computer and copied the video. We spoke to the owners of the house and it was clear that the video would be given to them as well as the cops.”

Guys, come on — that’s just a waste of good bagels. Make brunch, not war.

Watch the whole thing below. If anything, it’ll just make you glad you’re not in college anymore (NSFW — when frat boys use their words, things get ugly).

{h/t Heeb]


Mazel Tov, Fran Drescher!

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

The Nanny is married — to the man who created email.

Fran Drescher, who now stars in TV Land’s “Happily Divorced,” wed Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai at their home on the beach, People Magazine reported.

The bride wore Badgely Mischka, the groom wore Ralph Lauren. According to People, the ceremony was small, with only family and close friends in attendance.

Ayyadurai, 50, holds the patent for email (!). The two met a little over a year ago during a talk hosted by Deepak Chopra. Drescher was previously married to current producing partner Peter Marc Jacobson. The two divorced in 1999.

“Fran heard my talk and we fell in love, and we’ve been together since that talk,” Ayyadurai told the Huffington Post in late August. “Every day is a celebration with Fran. Every day is almost a romantic hangout with her. We’re always laughing, always enjoying ourselves.”

Drescher recently shared this photo of the two of them with the caption: “Be happy b well. B loving.”

Aren’t they cute? Mazel tov!


Trading Garment Industry Tales With Steven Fischler

By Masha Leon

When Steven Fischler producer with director with Joel Sucher of Pacific Street Films’ documentary “Dressing America: Tales from the Garment Center” contacted me about reviewing his film, I mentioned that in the 1950s I had worked for Michael Saphier Associates Inc. which designed the Koret of California showroom in the (then new) 1407 Broadway building central in his film.

What followed was a nostalgic trading stories session.

Revisting his years of fund-raising, Fischler mused: “[the film] became more historical than current…the documentary took on a life of its own…. We started with history, immigrant Jews of the late 1950s, the difference between Midwest fashion, New York fashion, the size of lapels…” He rattled off names of manufacturers and fashion houses including “Leslie Fay“ who invented the petite line (to which I am eternally indebted). “It evolved from the uniforms made for the WACS…he took sizing forms from the Army’s shorter women…. sent it to Filenes in Boston. Petites sold out immediately and he knew here was a new line!.”

Dressing America

“We decided not to make a film about designers… but shifted focus to the people who really care and run the industry.” Included in the film’s historical overview of the 125 years’ history of Jews and the garment industry in America, and personality profiles there are clips from the 1932 film “Uncle Moses” with its sweatshop domain and union rumblings. It brought to mind the commercial jingle “Look for the union label.”

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Was Jack the Ripper a Jew?

By Ami Eden

(JTA) – When I first saw the headline — “Jack the Ripper identified through DNA traces: sleuth” — I joked to myself: Don’t let it be a Jew.

Well, joke’s on me. Courtesy of AFP:

But after extracting DNA from a shawl recovered from the scene of one of the killings, which matched relatives of both the victim and one of the suspects, Jack the Ripper sleuth Russell Edwards claims the identity of the murderer is now beyond doubt.

He says the infamous killer is Aaron Kosminski, a Jewish emigre from Poland, who worked as a barber.

What a shande!


Gwyneth Paltrow Is Converting to Judaism

By Gabe Friedman

Getty Images

Gwyneth Paltrow is reportedly converting to Judaism, the Daily Mail reports.

Sources say that the 41-year-old actress has developed an interest in Kabbalah and that her desire to raise her kids in the Jewish faith may have contributed to her split with Coldplay singer Chris Martin earlier this year.

In 2011, Paltrow appeared on the show “Who Do You Think You Are?” where she was told that she was descended from a line of influential Eastern European rabbis. How’s that for a wake-up call?

Paltrow is also close friends with Michael Berg, a co-director of the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles, which gives spirituality lessons to other celebrities such as Madonna and Lindsay Lohan.

This news does not come as a total surprise, since Paltrow’s father was Jewish and one of her sons is named Moses. The Daily Mail notes that Paltrow described herself as a “Jewish princess” in an interview with The Guardian five years ago.


Scarlett Johansson Gives Birth To Baby Girl

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Mazel tov, ScarJo!

Scarlett Johansson and fiancé Romain Dauriac have welcomed their first child - a baby girl named Rose Dorothy.

According to People Magazine, the baby’s middle name is an homage to Johansson’s grandmother, whom she called “the first Francophone in my family,” back in February, referring to her French fiancé.

News that the 29-year-old actress (and SodaStream spokeswoman) was expecting broke only six months after her engagement to 31-year-old journalist.

According to her publicist, both “mother and daughter are doing well.”


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