The Shmooze

Dodging Gaza Rockets? There's Red Alert App

By Steven Scheer

Getty Images

(Reuters) — Israelis have found a new way to learn of imminent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip in the form of a mobile phone app.

Hamas militants have fired more than 1,000 rockets from Gaza at Israeli cities in the past week. Typically, air raid sirens blare and residents have between 15 and 90 seconds to head to bomb shelters and safe rooms in their homes.

Many have also downloaded an application called Red Alert to their phones that also warns of incoming rockets.

“The initial thought was to help people in the south. We didn’t think we would need to help people in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but we do,” said Ari Sprung, a co-developer of the app.

Israeli has responded to the rocket salvos - most of which have been intercepted by an Iron Dome system - with air strikes toward those launching them in Gaza.

Most of the rockets launched from Gaza since 2005 have been aimed at southern towns but Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups now have missiles that can reach deeper into Israel.

The app has been downloaded by some 500,000 Israelis on their Android and iPhones, with another 50,000 in the United States having downloaded an English version.

Once a rocket is fired, Israel’s military sounds sirens and also notifies Red Alert’s servers. Its servers crashed at the outset when rocket fire turned to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but they were quickly back up with stronger servers.

“The No 1 reason we created it was to save lives,” said the U.S.-born Sprung, who works at Jerusalem start-up Curiyo. “I hope I can un-publish it in the future.”


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Lorin Maazel Remembered as Conductor, Friend of Israel

By Masha Leon

karen leon

Lorin Maazel, cerebral conductor — who died aged 84 on July 13 from complications of pneumonia — was a presence in my columns not only because of his international renown and as conductor of the N.Y. Philharmonic, but also because of his support of Israel’s cultural and humanitarian institutions.

At the January 23, 2003 joint Israel Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic Orchestras Gala benefit, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the black tie audience with: “In New York you get a great deal, two for one! Two conductors — Zubin [Mehta] and Lorin [Maazel] —and two mayors” — a reference to his Tel Aviv-Jaffa counterpart, mayor Ron Huldai.

“It’s the first time in twenty years that both perform together — a symbol of our love for each other, our cities, our countries and our peoples,” said Bloomberg.

Read more


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Israel Scraps Neil Young Gig Over Rocket Fears

By Reuters

Getty Images

Palestinian rocket fire on Tel Aviv has forced the cancellation of veteran rock star Neil Young’s concert scheduled for Thursday.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Sunday the show was canceled by police for security reasons “in order not to put people in Gaza rocket range at unnecessary risk”.

Militants in the Gaza Strip have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel since Tuesday, when the Israeli military launched an air and naval offensive on the coastal enclave. Palestinian officials say 159 civilians have been killed.

Some of the Gaza rockets have been fired at Israel’s commercial hub, Tel Aviv, and have been either intercepted by anti-missile batteries or have landed in open areas, causing no casualties.

Some 30,000 people had bought tickets to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s show that was to be held at Tel Aviv’s main Hayarkon Park, a representative for the show’s organizers, the Shuki Weiss production company, said.

Young, who was to be accompanied by his longtime band The Crazy Horse, last performed in Israel in the 1990’s.

Artists including the Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and The Pixies, have performed in Israel in the past few months despite pressure from pro-Palestinian groups to cancel their performances over Israeli policy toward Palestinians.

The Pixies canceled a show in Israel in 2010.

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Toni Collette Honored as Ambassador Against Worldwide Hunger

By Masha Leon

Karen Leon

Delighted to be invited to the 12th Annual Concern World Wide Women of Concern Luncheon at The Pierre, I got to meet one of my favorite film stars — Toni Collette — who was honored as its First Global Ambassador for Concern. Among Collette’s many films are two favorites I like to revisit: The 2003 gem “Japanese Story,” and the 2006 — at times “farklempt” nosh — “In Her Shoes” in which Collette — one of two Jewish sisters (Cameron Diaz is the other) — with personal and career issues — discovers she has a still living grandmother named Ella (“Shirley MacLaine”) living in a Catskills-in-perpetual-sunshine resort genre retirement paradise in Florida. Reunited with their feisty grandmother Maclaine and embraced by the retiree entourage, the film ends in a funky, multi-cultural Jewish wedding. If you haven’t tasted this film — rent it!

At the luncheon I asked a bubbly Collette — fit and svelte in a black and white sleeveless polka dot dress — what was it like working with MacLaine. “Bloody brilliant!” she blurted out. “She is so ballsy, so grounded, so honest, so upright. I really like her a lot.” When I commented that “you seem to be attracted to transformational roles,” Ms. Collette — who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in “The Sixth Sense” and won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series” for her performance in Showtime’s hit series “The United States of Tara” — shrugged and replied: “Life is change. Embrace it!”

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Robert Downey Jr. and Wife Expecting Second Child

By Anne Cohen

Mazel tov to Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey!

Iron Man and his real life Pepper Pots are expecting a baby girl. The 49-year-old actor announced the news on Facebook on July 9.

And sent out a tweet, just to be sure:

The couple, who met in 2003, were married in a Jewish ceremony at Amagansett, New York in 2005. Susan Downey gave birth to their first son together, Exton Elias Downey, in February 2012.


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Introducing Seinfeld Emojis

By Gabe Friedman

The people behind the Seinfeld Current Day Twitter account are back with their biggest cultural contribution yet: Seinfeld emoji.

Until now, the Seinfeld Current Day account has specialized in placing Seinfeld characters in modern situations — what if Kramer drank Four Loko or Elaine dated hot convict guy?

The popular Twitter team’s newest project is a phone app that will include emojis of the major characters and several iconic objects featured on the show: Junior Mints, the black and white cookie, the front of Monk’s Café — yada, yada, yada.

Jason Richards, creator of the Seinfeld Current Day account, prefers to use humorously altered names, such as “Jary” and “Elane” to avoid directly copying the Seinfeld franchise. But don’t be fooled — those faces are unmistakably of the (un)fabulous four.

Last Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of Seinfeld’s first episode. Happy texting!


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3.2 Gazillion 'Nazi' Jokes on Twitter for World Cup

By Rachel X. Landes

As Germany hammered Brazil during the World Cup match yesterday 7-1, Twitter exploded in reaction tweets. With a record 36.6 million tweets were sent out during the match, the Germany-Brazil match became the most discussed sports event in Twitter history.

Unsurprisingly a large fraction of those tweets were, well, Nazi jokes.

Of course the ever obvious:

Some pointed out the problem of Holocaust jokes:

And others attempted to be clever:


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British NYPhil Conductor Apologizes for 1776

By Masha Leon

Explaining his British accent, Bramwell Tovey, conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, welcomed the Avery Fisher Hall audience at its July 4th Summertime Classic Star-Spangled Celebration with: “I am here to apologize for 1776…bad decision by the King. Happy Birthday America!”

As he raised his baton, someone sneezed! Without missing a beat, Tovey brushed the back of his sparkling white jacket with his hand then led the orchestra and a 2,700-strong audience in a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Marine Band member, Bramwell Tovey and Major Dix // Photo by Karen Leon

Leading off with Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” (1942), the program included George Gershwin’s 1927 “Strike Up The Band.”

Mark Nuccio, NYPhil associate principal clarinetist, accompanied by the orchestra thrilled with a memorable performance of Aaron Copland’s (1947/48) “Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra with Harp and Piano.”

When the “Commandant’s Own” 80-strong United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps [red jackets, white pants and blinding polished brass instruments] marched on stage, there was a momentary hush followed by explosive applause. Perhaps it was an optical illusion, but from where I sat, the edges of the Marines’ red jackets —irrespective of the wearer’s height — seemed to line up evenly!

Under the baton of Major Brian Dix, director and commanding officer of “The Commandant’s Own,” the Marines led off with Elmer Bernstein’s (1922-2004) theme from the Oscar-nominated film “The Magnificent Seven.” A drums only “Xylophonia” [two xylophones were wheeled on stage] adapted by Nathan Morris and Briana Dix and performed by the entire assemblage was followed by Durham Prince’s 1941 “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” which had audience members — myself included — dancing in their seats.

The Commandant’s Own play at Avery Fisher Hall // Photo by Karen Leon

“The band travels 50,000 miles each year giving concerts,” Major Dix said. He invited members of the audience who had served in various wars to stand up and be recognized. As each military branch of service theme was played, veterans stood up to explosive applause. An a capella rendition of “I’m Proud To Be An American” was accompanied by a kishke-churning drumline tattoo. After John Philips Sousa’s “Semper Fidelis” the Marine Band joined the NY Phil in a medley of Dix’s “Ellis Island” (1999). Maj. Dix explained that this work was based on his grandmother’s favorite American folk songs that she and other immigrants learned on their journey to America.”

“We really need America in the world today,” were Tovey’s parting words to the audience.

During the post-performance reception in the Green Room, I mentioned to Major Dix that my husband had served in the U.S. Navy, that a relative recently joined the Marines, that I was a columnist for The Jewish Daily Forward and that I was a Holocaust survivor. He looked down at me (he is tall!) then kissed the top of my head!


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Dishing on Jewish 'Bachelorette' Andi Dorfman

By Maia Efrem

Reporter (and sometimes comedian) extraordinare Brian Williams, has a few opinions about Jewish Bachelorette Andi Dorfman and her somewhat lackluster remaining choice of men.

Williams appeared on Late Night Seth Meyers with his own fatherly advice for Andi, a former district attorney in her native of Atlanta.

“Opportunities as a homemaker in Iowa? Hello, Red Flag!” he said about Chris the farmer, who happens to live 500 miles from the nearest anything, courthouse included.

A master with words, Williams described the men in one sentence: “One is wealthy, one is wrapped up in the NFL draft, the other one has a mom who casts a heavy vote in the family and the other’s from Iowa.”

Last night’s episode of the ABC hit reality show saw Andi on hometown dates with the four remaining bachelors, with the intention of cutting it down to three. But the emotional crux of the episode was when Andi and the men were told Eric Hill, an axed bachelor of the show, had died in a paragliding accident.

In the end only Josh, Nick and Chris remained. Andi sent puppy-eyed Marcus home. Having told her he loved her too early in the show, she feared she might not catch up to his feelings. Andi has repeatedly goaded the men to express their feelings and sometimes pushed them into telling her they loved her. She wanted vulnerability and emotions, but looks like Marcus laid it on too thick for her comfort.

Will Andi become an NFL sister-in-law and choose Josh? Will she drive a tractor barefoot and pregnant in Iowa? Or will she join the family wall of photos as Nick’s bride?


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Coldplay Slammed for 'Freedom For Palestine' Facebook Post

By Rachel X. Landes

Coldplay fans are not happy.

(Wait, Coldplay has fans?)

The band fronted by Chris Martin has come under fire after posting a link to a “Freedom for Palestine” video by the band OneWorld on their Facebook page.

The song, which contains the controversial lyrics: “No matter your faith or your community/ this is a crime against humanity” and “Enough illegal occupation/ violence and racial segregation,” calls for people to rally in support of Palestine. As the chorus goes, “We are the people/ this is our time/ stand up, sing out/ for Palestine.”

In the Facebook post, Coldplay provided fans with a link to the “Freedom for Palestine” website with the simple message, “Some of our friends are involved in OneWorld’s new ‘Freedom for Palestine’ single.”

According to the Washington Post, the Facebook post received 12,000 comments within a day. Many of them contained promises to boycott the band, but there were also a number of endorsements of support for Palestine.

The Facebook post has since been taken down.

The song and Facebook post even reached the attention of Glenn Beck on Fox News. Beck did not hold back on his stinging criticism of the pro-Palestine movement. “Make no mistake it’s propaganda,” he said. “It’s important that we know all sides and look evil in the eye.”

As he continued his rant on the pro-Palestine movement, he was so overcome with emotion he began to weep.


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Zach Braff's Jewiest Movie Yet

By Anna Goldenberg and Anne Cohen

Lawrence Sher, Double Feature Films

Any doubts that Zach Braff’s new movie, “Wish I Was Here,” centers on his Jewish identity evaporate into thin air the second the film’s dog barks. “Kugel!”

The dog’s name is only one of the many Jewish elements in the movie, which tells the story of Aidan Bloom (Braff), a struggling actor who decides to home school his two children when his father (Mandy Patinkin) stops paying the tuition fees for their yeshiva after being diagnosed with cancer.

The film, which also stars fellow tribe members Kate Hudson and Josh Gad, marks Braff’s return to directing a decade after the cult indie success of “Garden State.” And just like his first film showed Braff mining his home state of New Jersey for inspiration, “Wish I Was Here” allows him to come to terms with his Jewish upbringing.

The Forward’s very giggly Anne Cohen and Anna Goldenberg caught up with Braff in his suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, in New York City, to ask him about growing up in a kosher home, falling asleep in Hebrew school and his most embarrassing bar mitzvah moment.

Anne Cohen and Anna Goldenberg: You grew up in a Conservative home in New Jersey. What was your bar mitzvah theme?

Zach Braff: My bar mitzvah, embarrassingly enough, was musical theater themed. I knew I wanted to be an actor as a kid, and while all the other kids were having their bar mitzvahs themes be, like, sports and all these jockey things, I was like, “No, mine will be Broadway musical theater.”

Read more


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Joan Rivers Storms Out of CNN Interview

By Rachel X. Landes

Apparently all that plastic surgery didn’t give Joan Rivers a thick skin.

On July 5, Joan Rivers made headlines after she stormed out of a CNN interview claiming the anchor, Fredricka Whitfield, was asking increasingly “negative questions.”

Rivers, known for her (sometimes) off-color jokes has picked on everyone from Paula Deen to the Jennifer Lawrence. She has even run afoul of the Anti Defamation League once or twice.

On CNN to promote her newest book, “Diary of a Mad Diva,” Joan came under fire for calling President Obama gay, She went on in the same interview to use an offensive slur for a transgendered person when asked about the first lady.

Whitfield began the interview with a summary of Joan’s current career on “Fashion Police” “Although it’s very mean in some ways-” she began. But Rivers quickly cut her off, “It’s not mean. I tell the truth. I’m sure I say the same things that all your viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch….”

“It’s not about them. It’s about clothing,” Rivers defended herself with a shrug.

Asked whether she had any boundaries when it comes to humor, Joan explained, “Life is very tough, and if you can make a joke to make something easier and funny, do it. Done. Do it.”

Despite the tense atmosphere, it was only when Whitfield asked about the fur that Joan sports on the cover of her new book that the interview took a drastic turn “This whole interview is becoming a defensive interview,” Rivers complained. “Are you wearing leather shoes? Shut up.”

“All you have done is negative. I make people laugh for fifty years,” Rivers added, incensed. “I am put on earth to make people laugh. My book is funny. I wear fur that was killed 15 years ago. I work for animal rights. Stop it with ‘and you do this,’ and ‘you’re mean,’ and ‘you do that.’”

Watch the whole interview below:


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Why Is Tom Hanks Singing 'This is How We Do It' Dressed Like a Rabbi?

By Anne Cohen

Presented for your humble viewing: A video of Tom Hanks, dressed as a rabbi, singing “This Is How We Do It,” courtesy of Justin Bieber.

Caption: “Haha Tom Hanks singing “This Is How we do it” dressed like a Rabbi lol #thatdancetho”

SO MANY questions:

Why is Tom Hanks dressed like a rabbi?

Why is Tom Hanks hanging out with Justin Bieber?

Why are they singing the Montell Jordan classic at what looks to be some kind of wedding or bar mitzvah?

Nevertheless, the video is delightful, as is anything Tom Hanks. Enjoy!

[h/t Buzzfeed]

Update:

According to Vanity Fair, the video was taken at Scooter Braun’s wedding reception, which took place over the July 4 weekend. (Braun is Bieber’s manager.)


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Jose Pekerman's 7 Miracles

By Dan Friedman

Jose Pekerman chats with Colombia player as the team prepares to face Brazil in the World Cup. / Getty Images

There’s a joke being told in the bars of Rio about how different national teams tried to curry support. Italy put out a press release that if they won they would give free pizza to everyone. Brazil made an announcement that they would distribute free coffee. And France put out a sultry tv ad saying “cheese and baguettes pour tous!”

The Japanese were about to promise something about sushi when Diego Maradona stands up and starts chanting “Col-om-bia, Col-om-bia!”

Colombia, with a soccer-mad population of over 40 million, has soccer resources other than Maradona’s favorite nose candy. They have one of the world’s best strikers in Radamel Falcao (named apparently by a smurf, but touched by the soccer gods) and one of the world’s most promising youngsters, James (pronounced “ham-es”) Rodriguez.

But their main asset is José Néstor Pékerman Krimen, a Jewish prophet cast out of his native Argentina into the wilderness of Colombia only to effect first the miracle of qualification to the World Cup Finals and now the miracle of reaching the last eight. What other miracles might he work in the next few days?

1. Make the Clown Wig Vanish

For a generation, Colombian soccer has been globally synonymous with the bright yellow of Carlos Valderrama’s perm. This time around the team is more successful and less exuberantly coiffed, perhaps Pekerman can make the specter of Valderrama disappear.

2. Walk on Water

If this guy could do it, Pekerman could. If any man can, Pekerman can.

3. Win Without Falcao

When you have a team built from mostly spare parts of second tier teams, it would have been useful to have an $80 million player who can do this. Falcao was too injured to even join the squad in Brazil. That Pekerman has won without him so far, makes winning without him an achievable miracle but a miracle nonetheless.

4. Silence the Jewish Press

The normally garrulous Jewish and Israeli media have been stumped so far by the focused Pekerman. In the face of the odds he can lead his team into the promised land of the semi finals, in almost complete silence, like the imperturbable lovechild of Joshua ben Nun, Marcelo Bielsa and Harpo Marx.

5. Claim the Golden Boot

Like Belinda the Good Witch, Pekerman can put the ruby slippers (or golden boot) on James Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the tournament’s top scorer at the moment. And though it was Rodriguez who actually put his boot through this and this, (see here) who was it who told him to be there and try?

6. Beat Brazil, in Brazil

Brazil has only lost once in the World Cup in Brazil. That was in 1950 in the final game against Uruguay. Sixty four years on, the country is still reeling from the loss — they have a name for the tragedy, the Maracanazo. Let’s see how soccer-mad the country really is. Can it stay passionate, positive and intense if the over-hyped seleçao get beaten in the quarter finals? It could happen, but it would take a Pekerman miracle.

7. Turn Water Into Wine

If Colombia does beat Brazil, Pekerman will turn water into champagne!

h/t Alejandro Duhalde


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Jean Shafiroff Honored at Hampton Summer Soltice Gala

By Masha Leon

Of the unique cadre of philanthropic women who are “hands on” at the entities they support is Jean Shafiroff, an honoree at the June 21 Ellen Hermanson Foundation Summer Solstice Gala, hosted by Ellen and Chuck Scarborough at their stunning Southampton home.

Shafiroff — whom I have dubbed “the lady who never repeats a gown,”— arrived wearing a blue dress and then appeared in pink (!). During our post event chat she explained: “I was asked to go home and change into pink — the color of the Cancer Care logo.”

Jean Shafiroff, Chuck Scarborough and Sharon Bush // Photo by: Patrick McMullan

Commenting on the evening’s weather as “magical…with gorgeous white tents set up in case of rain — no floor,” Shafiroff said she was thrilled to be honored along with Robert Chaldoner, president and CEO of Southampton Hospital.

“I helped them raise a lot of money…chaired their galas…have been involved for the past 7-8 years,” she told me. “I so believe in health care for all…. Hospitals just don’t do well without fundraising…they can’t provide the same services.” Touting the hospital’s “heavy summer traffic, which was vital for the community,” Shafiroff added: “Without the hospital, who would want to live out there?”

Focusing on the Summer Solstice theme at the heart of his commentary, Scarborough — whom I first met at a book party his publisher hosted for his first book “Stryker” at the 1978 American Booksellers Association Convention —expounded on how different communities engaged with that planetary phenomenon from ancient times to present day. He spoke movingly about his sister who lost her battle with breast cancer and invited the foundation’s co-founders, Dr. Julie Ratner, and Emily Levin to speak. Both also recalled a sister who lost the battle with cancer.

In her closing remarks, Shafiroff highlighted the importance of the foundation’s work…from pain management to the debilitating effect of breast cancer on the entire family.

The Ellen Hermanson Foundation was established in 1997 in honor of Ellen Hermanson, an activist and forceful voice for breast cancer patients and their families. Among the 400 guests: Martin Shafiroff, Sharon Bush, Nancy Stone and Ike Ude.


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A Concentration Camp Poster For Your Home, On Sale at Walmart

By Gabe Friedman

Walmart has always had a knack for building its reputation as a soul-crushing corporation.

Nevertheless, it is still shocking to find that they are selling a poster with an image of the gate of one of the Holocaust’s most notorious concentration camps — Dachau.

Screenshot via Heeb

The description reads “Gate with inscription Arbeit Macht Frei, Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau” and mentions that the poster “would make a great addition to your home or office.” That’s right – because why wouldn’t you want to be constantly reminded of the Shoah every time you enter one of your favorite rooms?

Heeb reports that some concerned customers complained to Walmart customer service and got some unintentionally humorous responses. One heard back that they “have this product in stock because there are some customer[sic] who like to buy this type of item, but this doesn’t mean [Walmart] are supporting any ideology related to this item.”

Another heard back that customer service had “escalated this matter to [their] corporation so they can release the nazi related propaganda.” Release? Through a bit of inference one can realize that they mean that they would get rid of the posters, but on a touchy subject like this, they should probably rethink their word choice.


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PHOTO: Christian Bale as Moses in 'Exodus'

By Anne Cohen

Photo: Entertainment Weekly

This is not Charleton Heston’s Moses.

The first stills of Ridley Scott’s “Exodus” have surfaced, and it’s clear we’re in for something new. Christian Bale, our new Moses, is clad in armor and on horseback wielding some kind of weapon.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Bale hesitated before taking on the iconic role.

“Charlton Heston does Charlton Heston better than anyone,” Bale said. “But the biblical account of Moses is extraordinary, and there was lots of room for us to go to places that [Heston’s movie] The Ten Commandments never dreamed of going.”

But don’t worry — Bale will not be be rocking Heston’s signature orange tan. His biggest request before signing on? “No fake beards.” Audiences everywhere salute you, sir.

Along for the ride down the Nile (get it?) are Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, and Aaron Paul.

Exodus hits theaters December 12, right in time for the Christmas Eve rush.


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Introducing the 'Christooza' — Yes, It's a Cross Mezuzah.

By Rachel X. Landes

Apparently, Christians have mezuzah-envy. Or so it would seem to one Henry Zabarsky, inventor of the “Christooza.”

If you couldn’t guess from the name, it’s a portmanteau of Christian and Mezuzah, or Christooza.

“I was visiting a client in Rockaway,” Zabarsky, a Jewish financial advisor from Queens, told the New York Post. “She’s very religious – Catholic. There were pictures of Jerusalem everywhere, crosses. And I was thinking, Jews have this mezuzah – so why not create one for everyone else?”

Like the mezuzah, the Christooza is a hollow case that is affixed to the doorway of a house. It contains a prayer written in parchment, which blesses the home.

Additionally, Zabarsky welcomes designers to create and send in Christooza designs of their own. The best designs will be chosen and featured for sale on the Christooza website. The designer will receive 10% royalty, and another 10% of profits will go to a Christian Charity of the designer’s choice.

Buy them for all of your Christian friends at christooza.com Prices start at $20.00, blessing included.


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Bar Refaeli Tweets Condolences to Family of Murdered Teens

By Anne Cohen

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli tweeted out her condolences to the families of the three Israeli teenagers, found dead yesterday.

Refaeli also posted a picture of three memorial candles to her Instagram feed with the same caption.

Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach had been missing since June 12. Their bodies were found under a pile of rocks in a field near Hebron. The funerals, set for this afternoon, will be held in their home communities, after which they will be buried side-by-side in the Modiin cemetery in central Israel.

Other famous names with ties to Israel have also taken to Twitter to wish the families well. Omri Casspi, the Israeli small forward for the Houston Rockets, spoke of “unspeakable tragedy”:

Actress Mayim Bialik also expressed her grief, declaring that she was signing off from social media as a sign of respect.


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Eric Clapton Headlines Auschwitz Music Festival

By Rachel X. Landes

Eric Clapton headlined the fifth annual Life Festival in Oswiecim, Poland late this month. Yes, you read that right. Eric Clapton just played Auschwitz.

Well, kind of.

The Oswiecim Life Festival started in 2010, and was created by Darek Maciborek, a radio DJ, who wanted to change the negative associations brought up by his hometown. Because of its close proximity to Auschwitz, Oświęcim, has always carried part of the legacy of the death camp, which was where over 1 million people died, 90% of whom were Jewish.

The Life Festival Oswiecim is meant to combat anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia through music and the arts. Various Polish and foreign bands play in the festival. James Blunt played in 2011, and Peter Gabriel in 2012. Last year, the festival pulled in Sting to headline.

Clapton preformed the closing number at the festival, which was his final stop on his four-month world tour.

More than 10,000 people came out for the event, which took place from the 25th – 28th of June.

[h/t Tablet]


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  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
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