The Shmooze

Jewish Stars Say Goodbye to Oscar de La Renta

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Who else could bring Henry Kissinger, Ralph Lauren and Barbara Walters together in the same place, at the same time?

Jewish A-listers bid a sad farewell to Oscar de La Renta on Monday. The service, held at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City’s Upper East Side, saw politicians, actors, fashionistas and socialites, all in their glitzy best to pay tribute to the designer, who died from cancer on Oct. 20 at age 82.

Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenberg repped the Jewish fashion world. Chelsea Clinton and hubby Marc Mezvinsky accompanied Hillary Clinton. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg led the crowd in prayer. Director Mike Nichols and actor Matthew Broderick gave Hollywood cache.

“It was a very beautiful, solemn, spiritual service celebrating a man who was so wonderful and life giving,” Walters told The New York Post (even Anna Wintour shed a tear).

Amal Clooney better frame that wedding gown.


Brad Pitt Helped Shia LaBeouf Convert to Christianity

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Shia LaBeouf is many things: the former child star of “Even Stevens;” a sometimes weird performance artist; that drunk guy who crashes a performance of “Cabaret” and gets arrested.

But a Jew? No longer. According to Haaretz, the actor has converted to Christianity, with a little help from Brad Pitt.

LaBeouf, currently starring alongside Pitt, told Interview magazine that he “found God doing ‘Fury.’ I became a Christian man, and not in a fucking bullshit way — in a very real way.”

“I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it,” he added in the interview.

Born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father, LaBeouf has expressed pride in his Jewish heritage in the past. He was bar mitzvahed and in 2004, he admitted he felt “cocky” when telling people he was Jewish. “Not bad cocky, but good cocky,” he clarified. “Because what I am really saying is that I am one of the few chosen ones out there.”

Well, Shia, you may not be chosen anymore, but on the bright side, that means Mel Gibson can feel sorry for you. Aren’t you lucky.


Donna Karan Honored at Lungevity Foundation Gala

By Masha Leon

‘It’s so great when other people wear your clothing,” joked fashion guru and founder of Donna Karan Ltd. Donna Karan, honoree at the Lungevity Foundation’s Celebration of Hope Gala at The Pierre. Wearing a body-hugging black silk sleeveless dress, long black shawl, black boots and imposing triangular tribal metal necklace, fashion was not on the menu that night. Founder of Urban Zen Foundation, and the Urban Zen Stores which “marry philanthropy and commerce” Karan spoke passionately of her husband who succumbed to lung cancer.

“He was a cool dude, really hot artist, photographer…father… who was dismissive of my yoga till he was diagnosed with lung cancer [a disease] that makes breath so difficult.” Karan went on to describe how his battle to breathe became a catalyst for the Urban Zen program.. In the face of her own husband’s battle with lung cancer Ms. Karan discovered a way to care for lung cancer patients that medical treatments could not provide. “I spent decades dressing people. now I want to address them.”

Karen Leon
Donna Karan

“We go into hospitals, do in-bed yoga, aromatherapy, nutrition…We did a clinical study at Beth Israel Hospital so they wanted me to design the doctors’ uniforms, the nurses’ uniforms….’Sorry guys…I want to design a care system.’” Karan informed that “Thanks to the Urban Zen Therapies Program “We saved $900,000 on one floor in the hospital.”

The statistical shocker was the disease’s numerical profile. Lungevity Foundation president and chairman Andrea Ferris informed: “Lung cancer kills 160,000 people a year. There are 400,000 Americans living with lung cancer today. While colon, breast and prostate cancer all have reliable detection tests—lung cancer does not! Currently only 17% of those diagnosed survive 5 years post diagnosis. Sixty percent of all lung cancer diagnoses are of those who never smoked or are former smokers…. It kills more people than colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancers combined!”

“If you were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 there was still no way to detect it early…. Learning of your diagnosis, your doctor would tell you to go home and get your affairs in order. Treatments were limited…toxic. Now in 2014 personalized medicine is a reality…. we now have definitive proof that finding lung cancer early saves lives and innovative treatments are being developed.”

When Ferris asked lung cancer survivors in the room to raise their hands and be identified, there was an explosion of applause.

Emceed by “News 4 New York” award-winning co-anchor David Ushery, the event’s honorary gala chair was Mrs. John Updike whose husband the noted American writer succumbed to lung cancer in 2009. Her son and vice-chair Jason Bernhard was among the event’s speakers.


Iggy Azalea's Bar Mitzvah Wardrobe Malfunction

By Anne Cohen

Memo to Iggy Azalea (and any other impromptu bar mitzvah performer): wear underwear. You never know when your pants are going to suddenly split mid-song, giving 13-year-old boys a glimpse of manhood that goes a little beyond their Torah portion.

The “Fancy” rapper, 24, was performing her (aptly named) song “Booty” at an unidentified kid’s bar mitzvah when, well, this happened:


Israeli Cartoon Shows Bibi as a 9/11 Terrorist

By Anne Cohen

Today in things in poor taste: A Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman showing one Bibi Netanyahu, flying an Israel plane into an American building. Subtle.

I guess people who lost a loved one on 9/11 will just have to get past that boring old thing called grief in the interest of depicting political tension.


6 Jewish Costumes for Shabbat-oween

By Anne Cohen

Dressing up for Halloween is always an ordeal. Dressing up when Halloween also falls on Shabbat? Wow.

So this year, in honor of “Shabbatoween,” we’ve come up with some easy tricks to add a topical Jewish twist to your costume. Major treats guaranteed.

1) Irv Rosenfeld from “American Hustle”

For ultimate ’70s swag, pair a leisure suit with a colorful shirt. Bring on the bling, perfect the comb-over and voila! (ABSCAM optional)


2) Gloria Steinem

Forget Jennifer Lawrence. For the female counterpart to Irv’s psychadelic charm, try a long hair, don’t care Gloria Steinem attitude. Throw on some oversized sunglasses and you’re good to go.


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Professor Sprout Calls Israel 'Stupid'

By Rachel X. Landes

Looks like Professor Sprout has stepped out of the Hogwarts greenhouse — right into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Miriam Margolyes, who played the matron of the Hogwarts greenhouses and Head of Hufflepuff house in the “Harry Potter” franchise, spoke out about the recent war in Gaza to Radio Times, a British television and radio magazine.

According to Haaretz, the actress, who was raised Jewish and grew up in a Jewish household in Britain, said, “I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected and Israel’s behavior is not acceptable.”

Margolyes observed that, “there’s been a troubling backlash” against Jews as a result of Operation Protective Edge.

In Belgium and France, rioters shouted “Death to Jews!” In Germany it was, “Gas the Jews!”

Britain itself saw a fivefold increase in calls to the country’s anti-Semitic hotline. July alone saw 240 calls, up from the previous average of roughly 50 a month in the first half of 2014.

“Anti-Semitism is horrible,” Margolyes said, “and can’t be defended, but Israel is stupid for allowing people to vent it,” she said.

“I don’t think many people like Jews,” she added.

But don’t worry, it’s not all bad. After all, Margolyes continued, “I’m lucky they like me, and one always needs a Jewish accountant.”

Maybe someone should lay off the mandrake potion from now on…


Mourners Sing Kaddish at Ben Bradlee's Funeral

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Legendary newsman Ben Bradlee was put to rest on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

But among the traditional hymns and psalms listed in the program, something stands out: Hebrew script, spelling out the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourning.

Now, the former Washington Post executive editor, who died October 21 at the age of 93, was far from Jewish. In fact, it’s hard to think of a more WASP-y figure. His father, Frederick Josiah Bradlee Jr. (his friends called him “B”), could name his American ancestors 10 generations back.

His mother, however, may hold the key to Bradlee’s affinity for the tribe. Josephine de Gersdorff Bradlee, received the Legion of Honor for her work keeping children safe from Nazi forces during World War II.

Writing in the Washington Post on Tuesday, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who worked with Bradlee on the Watergate articles that brought down President Richard Nixon, remembered their mentor’s wise words of advice:

Four decades ago, Ben Bradlee told us his general theory of newspapering and life: “Nose down, ass up and moving steadily forward into the future.”

He understood the past and its importance, but he was utterly liberated from it. The past was history to learn from. And he refused to let himself be emotionally encumbered by it or deterred by either the lows or the highs.

The funeral, held at 11 am EST, was open to the public. Those unable to make it to the cathedral (which fits 2,500) could watch the proceedings on C-SPAN here.


Bernard-Henri Levy Makes Charlie Rose Blush at Hermoine-Lafayette Gala

By Masha Leon

In advance of the anticipated arrival in New York in 2015 of the “Freedom Frigate” Hermione-Lafayette — Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America celebrated its Inaugural October Gala aboard the USS Intrepid Air & Space Museum. Moet Hennessy flowed and a leggy beauty dispensed teaspoonfuls of Petrossian caviar to the black tie guests — six hundred strong from across the globe.

Presented by FOH-LA President Miles Young the first recipient of the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America Leadership award was Dr. Henry Kissinger.

The award is in honor of the French frigate which sailed from Rochefort on March 21, 1780 arriving in Boston with a contingent of French reinforcements who joined General Washington and fought in the American campaign for eighteen months until victory.

Charlie Rose and Henry Kissinger // Photo by Karen Leon

Following the award presentation, French philosopher and author of “American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of de Tocqueville” Bernard-Henri Levy — dashing in his signature chemise empassee (an unbuttoned blinding white shirt) — declared: “Charlie Rose, one of my dearest friends, is to us French people “a table.” Citing “famous tables” of history such as the Tabula Rasa of Francis Bacon and Descartes, …the Last Supper… the Table of the Oval Office…the table of the Card Player of Cezanne and today there is the ‘Table of Charlie Rose’ [for he] he invented the world table. [He is] the reinventor of an art which for a long time was considered a French art — the art of conversation. He is the master of what Hannah Arendt called the world of ideas…an agent of resistance to noise, silence and twitter.” From where I sat I was sure I saw Charlie Rose blushing.

“What this evening is about,” responded Rose, “is America’s oldest friends: France and Lafayette.” He touted Lafayette’s “love for America,” which “caused a young man to come here and identify with a young nation…and it made all the difference and that is what we are celebrating this evening…. [And] for me to be mentioned in the same breath, as Henry Kissinger is a deep honor. As all of you may know, he is the one person I have interviewed more than anyone else. Period! He has the longest number of hours at what Bernard called ‘the table.’” Rose noted, “Henry’s sense of appreciation of what immigrants have brought to this country is amazing!”

Rose then proceeded to do an on-stage “table” interview with Madame Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, who diplomatically fielded Rose’s queries vis a vis major international political, and economic issues. The menu, inspired by the cuisine of Poitou–Charentes whence “The Hermione” sailed for America, was curated by Ariane Daguin, CEO of “D’Artagnan” and included the classic Poulet Grand Mere (Grandmother’s chicken!).

Intended as a “permanent ambassador” of Franco-American friendship, the Hermione’s meticulous authentic reconstruction includes “400,000 wood and metal parts, 2,000 oaks selected from French forests, 1,000 pulley blocks, 26 canons firing 12-pound canon balls and “the restoration of the hull made entirely of oak reaching 1 meter thickness — inconceivable today but used in the 18th century to withstand enemy cannonballs.”


Jewish Hoops Owner's 'Hoodish' Email Snafu

By Julie Wiener

Golden State Warriors owner Peter Guber with basketball star Jermaine O’Neal/Getty Images

(JTA) — Oy. Talk about auto-correct fails.

In an email to team employees, the Jewish owner of a pro basketball team said he wanted to learn “hoodish.” He apparently meant to write “Yiddish.”

Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber sent out a follow-up email clarifying that the use of “hoodish” (which this writer’s auto-correct keeps trying to change to “goodish”) was not intended as a slur, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

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Celebrating 100 Years of Jonas Salk

By Anna Goldenberg

Happy birthday Jonas Salk!

Today’s Google Doodle pays tribute to the Jewish inventor of the polio vaccine, born 100 years ago today in New York City. Been a long time since high school science class? Here’s a little refresher:

Who Is Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk 1914, New York City - 1995, San Diego) graduated from New York University with a medical degree in 1939. His parents, Jewish Ashkenazi immigrants with little formal education, were eager to see their children succeed. Salk first worked on developing an influenza vaccination before becoming interested in the polio virus. He developed a vaccination which used dead virus, also known as inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). The field trial for the vaccine was one of the largest of its kind, with over 600,000 schoolchildren injected with the vaccine or a placebo, and a million more serving as “observed” controls. In 1955, the vaccine, which showed 90% effectiveness, was approved to international acclaim. He continued his biomedical research in the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, which he founded in San Diego, Ca., focusing on multiple sclerosis and HIV.

Wikimedia Commons

About Polio

The polio virus is transmitted through water and faeces, where it can remain infectious for a long period of time, and causes paralysis. Children are especially vulnerable. Today, it’s easy to forget the terror caused by polio epidemics. In 2009, a PBS documentary declared that, “Apart from the atomic bomb, America’s greatest fear was polio.” In the 1950s, between 25,000 and 50,000 new cases of polio were diagnosed every year in the United States alone. When news that Salk’s vaccine testing was successful went public in 1955, he was hailed as a “miracle maker.”) In fact, April 12, 1955 almost became a national holiday . The last U.S. polio case was reported in 1979.

The Vaccine

Salk’s vaccine uses dead polio viruses, grown on monkey kidney and then inactivated with formaldehyde. The main disadvantage of the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is that the immunization is not life-long. Albert Sabin, another member of the tribe, developed an oral polio vaccine around the same time, which uses live viruses and digested orally, making it cheaper and easier administrate. Immunization is life-long, but the vaccination carries a small risk of infection, especially in people with compromised immune systems. In 2000, the U.S. government switched back to recommending the use of Salk’s vaccine because the risks associated with Sabin’s oral vaccine, which outweighed the cost benefits.


A Jewish Hottie on 'Downton Abbey'

By Anne Cohen

Courtesy of ITV

SPOILER ALERT If you are one of those who actually waits the four-month purgatory period between when “Downton Abbey” airs in the United Kingdom and in the United States, you may want to avoid this blog post. Until January 4, that is.

Attention fellow tribe-members! There is a Jewish boy on this season of “Downton Abbey.” Atticus Aldridge, played by Matt Barber, appears in season 5 as Lady Rose’s new love interest. He’s tall, dashing and did we mention, a lord — and it turns out he’s a member of a Ukrainian Jewish family that fled the pogroms in Odessa.

This doesn’t seem to bother Rose, but really what does? The rest of the family seem pretty keen on Aldrige, including the Dowager Countess, though her reaction when she finds out his true origins is right on point: “There’s always something, isn’t there?”

This is the first confirmed Jewish sighting on the hit series. We first had our hopes pegged on Lady Cora Crawley, described as “the beautiful daughter of Isidore Levinson, a dry goods multimillionaire from Cincinnati.” As it turns out, her father was one of the Chosen, but as the Jewish Chronicle points out, Cora and her brother Harold were raised Episcopalian.

Welcome to the Downton-verse Atticus Aldridge! Mrs. Pattmore may have to start brushing up on her challah recipes.


Dr. Ruth's Sexy Halloween Tips

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Dr. Ruth has some tips for those of you looking to get a little something something this Halloween: no tricks, just treats.

The 86-year-old Jewish sex expert has taken to Twitter to share her best advice for some loving on the most spooky of holidays. We’ve picked out some of our favorite tidbits. Read and learn, folks.

Or, if all else fails, there’s always the sexy Olaf from “Frozen” costume. Good luck!


Billy Crystal Gives Robin Williams a World Series Tribute

By Gabe Friedman

Getty Images

Billy Crystal found another touching way to honor his close friend Robin Williams.

Williams, an avid San Francisco Giants fan, lived in the Bay Area for a long time. So, before game five of the World Series on Sunday night, Crystal helped bring Williams’ children —  Zelda, Cody, and Zak – out onto AT&T Field during a video tribute for the late legend of comedy on the stadium’s big screen. Crystal caught the ceremonial first pitch from Williams’ son Zak and then warmed up the crowd for the start of the game. Zak celebrated as if he had won the World Series for the home team.

Apparently, Crystal and Williams used to bro-out at games together. In 2007 they met Giants manager Bruce Bochy in the Giants dugout of an inter-league game between the Giants and the Yankees.

And that brings out what made last night’s tribute more special: Crystal isn’t even a Giants fan, he’s a huge Yankees fan.


Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Jack Jacobs Honored at Military Ball

By Masha Leon

Joking about his height at the podium at the October 13 U.S. Air Force, Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club’s 18th Annual Military Ball, U.S. Army (Ret) Col. Jack Jacobs — the only living Jewish recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor — cautioned the bemedaled and gowned military assemblage at The Pierre not “to take potshots” about “my standing on a box.”

Jacobs thanked SSMAC Chairman and CEO Ivan Obolensky and its executive director Hazel Cathers, “who labor tirelessly to make sure that there is a home for the troops who worked [and] fought to defend the homeland — without whom we would not be here today and I — and lots of people have to thank the troops…. For we and lots of other people in the world would not be enjoying the fruits of their labors — freedom which is priceless and can only be paid with — as has been said many times — since the [American] Revolution — with the blood of patriots. “

Karen Leon
Jack Jacobs

Col. Jacobs — whose curriculum vitae notes “ is among the most highly decorated soldiers from the [Vietnam] era having earned three Bonze Stars, two Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor” was, among others, a founder and CEO of AutoFinance Group Inc., a Managing Director of Bankers Trust, a London real estate firm The Fitzroy Group and serves on a number of charitable boards of directors, was an on air analyst for NBC News and recipient of the 2011 Murrow Award on the Nightly News segment “Iraq: The Long Way Out” (and more).

Emceed by WPIX’s Marvin Scott, the event’s honorees included General Mark A. Welsh III Chief of Staff, U .S. Air Force, Lieutenant General Stephen L. Hoog Asst. Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force., and Emmy Award-winning journalist WPIX 11 News Anchor Tamsen Fadalwho received SSMAC’s Distinguished Media Achievement Award.

Among the festive and uniformed guests: Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Ermias Sahle Selassie of Ethiopia, Countess Nicholas (Tanya) Bobrinkskoy, Helen Roosevelt, Iriina Dvorjitsky San Fillipo, Margo and John Catsimatidis, and newscaster/author Rita Cosby.

Founded in 1919 by Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Mrs. Cornelia Barnes Rogers, and Gen. John J. Pershing, SSMAC has served over five million Servicemen and Servicewomen, veterans and their families and those of our Allies with its “Home Away from Home” accommodations at its Lexington Avenue site.

On August 13, 2003, the day of the Northeast Blackout, Karen Leon (this column’s photographer and my daughter) had just left the Forward building at its then 33rd Street home when lights began to go out in Manhattan. There was no way to get out of the city so she walked over to the SSMAC Club and was welcome. By candlelight she slept on a cot, shared canned tuna and listened to war stories told by servicemen and women from across America. It was a night to remember.


This Is Not Your Bubbe's Yarmulke

By Anne Cohen

Craig Caplan

Too lazy to sort through your parents’ kippah drawer? Now, you can print one — in 3D.

Per NPR:

Craig Kaplan, an associate professor in the Computer Graphics Lab at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, rarely leaves the house without his Panama hat in warmer weather.

He wanted to design a 3-D printed version of the traditional hat, but he decided to start with an easier shape to reproduce: a yarmulke, or kippah — a plate-shaped head covering worn by observant Jews.

“After that,” he says, “it was just a matter of working through the mathematics — programming and 3-D modeling to make these kippah designs a reality.”

And yes, before you ask, it is kosher. Caplan consulted with rabbis to make sure that his model could be worn worry-free by all members of the tribe (though as Heeb points out, why you would need one is a whole other story).

There’s a downside, however. As Caplan pointed out to NPR, “they don’t do as good of a job at concealing the aging Jewish male’s bald spot, as I can personally attest.”


Swiss Coffee With a Dash of Hitler's Face

By Anne Cohen

A Miss Hitler contest in Russia. A swastika ring for sale at Sears. Nazi chic blouses at Mango. And now, Hitler’s face on a package of coffee creamer.

Swissinfo.ch reports that coffee lovers in Switzerland complained after waking up to a certain mustachioed dictator’s face along with their morning cup of Joe. The problematic creamers have popped up in a number of restaurants and cafes.

The packaging was part of a special collection 30 creamer lids featuring cigar band designs, created by Karo-Versand. The merchandise is still for sale on the company website, but Peter Rothenbühler, a Karo-Versand worker, confirmed that the no more Hitler lids would be manufactured.

“We weren’t observant enough to notice the picture of Hitler,” he said. But in retrospect, we should have paid more attention.”

Swiss retailer Migros announced (link in German) that it would no longer do business with Karo-Versand. Other festive lids in the collection feature images of Benito Mussolini, various flowers and animals, and John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States.


Jesuit Tzadik and Audi Honored by FASPE Fellowship

By Masha Leon

“You cannot murder eleven million people without the cooperation of journalists, doctors, lawyers, society as a whole,” declared Peter John Sacripanti, chair at the FASPE (Fellowship at Auschwitz For The Study of Professional Ethics) inaugural dinner held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Anthony Kronman, emcee and former dean of Yale Law School informed that FASPE is now in its 5th operational year “in the presence of Auschwitz… FASPE enables young professionals “to learn from the experience of their counterparts during the period of the Third Reich—sharpen their understanding [of] what they did and did not do…what courage looks like in human form.”

Masha Leon
Rev. Joseph Michael McShane S.J.

Honored posthumously was critic of the Nazi regime Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg, of the Diocese of Berlin who organized protests outside concentration camps, led public prayers for Jews, and filed complaints against the Nazi Party. Following a two-year imprisonment, he resumed his criticism of the Nazis, was re-arrested and killed enroute to Dachau on November 5, 1943 at age 67. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1966, he was honored as Righteous Among Nations at Yad Vashem.

Refusing to accept the posthumous award to Father Lichtenberg, Rev. Joseph Michael McShane S.J. President, Fordham University, said, “ We live in dark times again. Anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head through the world. In some places it assumed a genteel form. In others it is as brutal as it was in Hitler’s time.” Quoting Lichtenberg’s response to 1938 Kristallnacht he said, “’I reject with all my strength the deportation of the Jews with all its side effects, because it is directed against the most important commandment of Christianity: ‘You shall love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’”

Floris Dreesman Head of Audi Brand Strategy, accepted the FASPE award for Ethical Leadership and “its unflinching extensive examination…in horrifying detail… of the use that its predecessor company Autounion…had made of slave workers provided by the SS/Third Reich.”

The evening’s cerebral dessert was a Q&A with Randy Cohen, original ethicist of the New York Times Magazine, who — combining rabbinic-Freudian-Stand-Up-Comic wisdom — fielded questions from FASPE alumni.

Sample query: “As a rabbi, I officiated at a wedding that had a low likelihood of success and was in a quandary over saying something?” A smiling Cohen mused: “This is a question for the Jesuits.” [laughter!]. Chances of [any] marriage surviving is fifty-fifty. They are not asking you if they should get married. That’s what they ask their therapist [laughter]. They are asking you to just bless their union. You do not get to approve or disapprove of whom people love.”

Another puzzler was posited by a Jewish female hospital chaplain who saw a gorgeous guy on an on-line dating site. Just before answering him — the only Jewish chaplain on call — she ends up counseling him and his family pending a heart operation for his mother. “Can they meet?” she asked Cohen.

“This is not a moral question, but a ‘Seinfeld’ episode,” he replied. “You are only a chaplain for a small part of his life…you are not counseling beyond this incident.”


Ariana Grande Talks Kabbalah

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

And so, another pop star jumps on the Kabbalah bandwagon.

Move over, Ashton and Madonna — this time, it’s Ariana Grande’s turn to spill the beans on her connection to the Jewish mystical practice. The former Nickelodeon darling told the Telegraph that though raised in a Catholic home in Boca Raton, Florida, she turned to Kabbalah in her teens because of the Church’s stance on homosexuality. Her brother, Frankie, whom she “adored and worshipped” growing up, is gay.

“When my brother was told that God didn’t love him I was like, ‘OK, that’s not cool,’” the 21-year-old said. “They were building a Kabbalah centre in Florida so we both checked it out and really had a connection with it. Since then my life has unfolded in a really beautiful way, and I think that it has a lot to do with the tools I’ve learnt through Kabbalah, I really do.’

Asked what she means by “tools,” she answered:

“You have to watch your intentions, make sure you’re not giving in to your ego. You have to numb your reactive state. You have the power to change your reality,” she says, clapping her hands together. “You have to take a second and breathe and reassess how you want to approach or react to a situation or approach an obstacle, or deal with a negative person in your space. That takes a lot of self-control and practice and, I guess, willpower,” she concludes with an embarrassed laugh.

Maybe she and Britney can bond over growing up to be pop stars with big bouncy ponytails, and their love for red string.


There Was a Miss Hitler Pageant — And it Just Got Cancelled

By Anne Cohen

Alina Voronina from Moscow poses for the contest

Last week, Vocativ reported that VKontakte, essentially Russia’s version of Facebook, was hosting a Miss Hitler Pageant.

As one would expect, people got a little upset about it.

Hosted on the site’s Adolf Hitler page, the Miss Ostland pageant, as it’s officially known, called on women “who hate Jews” to share their most “sexy Nazi pics” of themselves. Admirers of all things Hitler (the page had 7,000 followers) would then vote for the most beautiful anti-Semite in all the land (to see pictures of the main contenders, click here).

Fortunately, people seemed to have regained their sanity, and the contest has been cancelled. Vocativ reports that the page has been taken down. VKontakte’s head of public relations George Lobushkin told Vocativ that “loading, storing, publishing, disseminating, making available or otherwise using any information which: propagandizes and/or contributes to racial, religious, ethnic hatred or hostility, propagandizes fascism or racial superiority,” violates the site’s Terms of Service.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest Aryan of them all? I guess we’ll never know.


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