The Shmooze

Chuck Norris Endorses Bibi

By Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — Could Chuck Norris come to Benjamin Netanyahu’s rescue in tomorrow’s election?

Probably not. But that didn’t stop the 75-year-old action hero-turned-Internet-meme icon from endorsing the Israeli prime minister on his official Facebook page. You can watch Norris’ video endorsement below:

Norris shilling for Netanyahu is far from surprising. The actor has endorsed the center-right politician in the past and once said that while “you might think I’m a tough guy from my films … Israel has its own tough guy and his name is Bibi Netanyahu.”

Over the past three decades, Norris has also donated over $30,000 to Republican politicians, including Mike Huckabee, whom he endorsed for president in 2007. In 2012, he warned the public that reelecting President Barack Obama would bring on “1000 years of darkness.”

When dealing with Norris, the star of the show “Walker Texas Ranger” and several action movies (three, including “Delta Force,” as Norris notes in his latest Facebook post, shot in Israel), it is often hard to parse reality from the wildly popular memes he is now associated with.

However, when it comes to Netanyahu, it seems Norris is serious.

Fellow conservative actor Jon Voight joined Norris in backing Netanyahu on Monday, saying in a video on Mike Huckabee’s Facebook page: “Those like Yitzhak (Isaac) Herzog who believe that deal-making is the solution to what Israel faces are as wrong as Neville Chamberlain believing he made a peace deal with Hitler.”


#OyDate Plays Steely Dan

By Lior Zaltzman

Today’s installment is a blast from the past. The clothes and music may have changed, but the bad dates still look the same.

Feel like venting? Send your bad/hilarious dating stories to zaltzman@gmail.com. BONUS: Tweet out your bad date Steely Dan puns with #Oydate.


52 Reasons Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is My Favorite Human

By Anne Cohen

Lior Zaltzman

Today is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s birthday. She is 82. She is my favorite. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to humbly pay tribute to her amazing and fantabulous life.

Born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1933, this woman has done it all: she broke down barriers, paved the way for others, left her detractors in the dust, lived a real-life fairytale love story, and fought her way to the highest judicial position in the land. Oh, and she’s also an internet meme.

Below are 52 reasons that explain and illustrate why we should all be worshipping at the altar of RBG:

1) Let’s start with the obvious: She knows how to accessorize.

2) She has a jabot for every occasion, including majority opinions and dissents.

3) She’s the first Jewish female justice to serve on the Supreme Court.

4) She’s Notorious and she knows it.

5) She even jokes about it:

6) “The ‘Notorious R.B.G.’ was started by a student at NYU Law School, and when the Tumblr first appeared, I asked my law clerks, “What is this all about?” but I didn’t know about Notorious B.I.G. And then I discovered that we had at least one thing in common: we both grew up in Brooklyn.”

7) “YOU CAN’T SPELL TRUTH WITHOUT RUTH.”

8) She’s the ultimate bon vivant:

9) She fell asleep in the State of the Union…

10) …Because she was TIPSY.

11) And a little sleepy having stayed up all night writing because “her pen was hot.”

Getty Images

12) She hasn’t cooked a meal since 1980. Lucky for her, her husband Marty was a “fabulous cook.”

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#AskHamas Is a Twitter Disaster — Or Is it?

By Lior Zaltzman

Twitter

As an Israeli, I really believe in open and honest dialogue with Palestinians — but an #AskHamas social media campaign isn’t really what I had in mind.

No, it’s not a joke. Hamas has launched an English-language campaign on Twitter, calling on people to tweet questions at the organization. Hamas leaders will livetweet answers. According to Hamas media coordinator Taher al-Nounou : “the campaign is aimed at rejecting the labeling of the Palestinian resistance as ‘terrorists.’”


The campaign has barely even launched, but #AskHamas has already been flooded with — mostly Jewish, but not all! — tongue-in-cheek questions. Hopefully, Hamas has enough social interns to sift through thousands of tweets like these ones:

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Andy Samberg Will Host the 2015 Emmys

By Reuters

Getty Images

Andy Samberg, star of the comedy TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and our second favorite Jewish funnyman (Jon Stewart comes first — obviously) will host the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards, the highest honors in U.S. television, organizers of the show said on Thursday.

The comedian, actor, writer and producer, whose breakthrough came on late-night sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” will emcee the show from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles that will be broadcast live by Fox TV on Sept. 20.

“Andy has excelled in all aspects of the television universe, both from behind and in front of the camera,” said Bruce Rosenblum, the chairman and CEO of the Television Academy.

Samberg, 36, performed on “SNL” for seven seasons before joining Fox police sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to play Det. Jake Peralta, a role that earned him a best comedy actor Golden Globe last year.

Samberg shared an Emmy for outstanding original music and lyrics in 2007 for an SNL sketch song “Dick In A Box,” alongside pop singer Justin Timberlake.

The Television Academy announced new rules last month that will increase the number of contenders in comedy and drama categories to seven nominees from six in previous years.

Comedy series will also be defined as shows that are 30 minutes or shorter per episode and drama will be shows over 30 minutes. The mini-series was renamed “limited series” and changes were also announced in the variety series category.

Nominations for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced on July 16.


Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin Aids Holocaust Survivors

By Masha Leon

Truth be told I was reticent to attend the March 9 “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin” concert at Avery Fisher Hall — a shattering event which I had experienced two years earlier — and put myself through the angst of reliving my wartime childhood, and the fate of many of my friends who, though not victims at Theresienstadt, suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Nazis. Yet how could I not go? The performance by the 200-strong Collegiate Chorale plus 100 member orchestra under the baton of creator and conductor Murry Sidlin, Bebe Neuwirth as “The Lecturer” and John Rubinstein as Rafael Schachter — the Czech Jewish musician who created the remarkable Jewish prisoner-choir amidst the brutality of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during World War II was viscerally wrenching.

Sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, Selfhelp Community Services and The Defiant Requiem Foundation, there were welcoming remarks by event chairs Carol Levin, and Patti Kenner,Stuart Kaplan,** CEO, Selfhelp Community Services, Eric Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York an honorary chair Elaine Wolfensohn,and The Defiant Requiem Foundation board chair Stuart Eizenstat. The pre-concert reception honored Elizabeth and Felix Rohatynwho sat quietly as accolades flowed from the dais. In his bio, Felix Rohatyn — one of Varian Fry’s Jewish rescuees — it notes that his escape saga from Nazi-occupied France included “a German soldier’s decision to reach for a cigarette and absently waiving a car through a checkpoint outside Marseille in 1940.” Playing a key role in saving New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970’s, Rohatyn served as U.S. Ambassador to France under Bill Clinton, and remains a managing director of investment firm Lazard. Elizabeth Rohatyn has–in her own right–garnered awards for her work as a champion of education in New York City.

Felix and Elizabeth Rohatyn // Photo by Karen Leon

The text of the Requiem is part of the living liturgy of the Catholic Church, but Theresienstadt prisoner Rafael Schachter (1905-44/45) saw Verdi’s Latin masterpiece as a means of defiance and in 1943-1944, met trains arriving at Theresienstadt looking for “musicians.” Conducting ill, hungry choir members –often shipped off to other camps or extermination sites midst rehearsals — Schachter led his doomed singers in a “collective spiritual belief in their own humanity amidst the unspeakable violations perpetrated against them.”

In cameo screen recollections two women Theresienstadt survivors who had been members of Schachter’s choir credit him with their will to survive. Soprano Jennifer Check, Mezzo-soprano Ann McMahon Quintero, tenor Steven Tharp and bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer were stellar. The program included a WWII filmed performance at Theresienstadt during a Red Cross visit to the camp that had been transformed into “Potemkin Village “ of happy, sports-playing, well-fed prisoners” who–once the visit was over — were put on death–destination trains.

Verdi, “an atheist or agnostic,” premiered and conducted his version of the 500-year-old Latin Missa (‘Mass for the dead”) in Milan in 1874 and New York that year. At concert’s end it was requested there be NO applause as members of the orchestra and choir silently walked off stage and up the aisles to the clarinet strains of the Amidah’s ending —  Oseh Shalom — May He who ordains peace.

With the concert covered by leadership gifts…proceeds from ticket sales will directly benefit New York’s Holocaust survivors.


Why Shouldn't High School Kids Read Allen Ginsberg?

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

A teacher at South Windsor High School has been placed on leave after reading out a poem by Allen Ginsberg deemed “highly inappropriate” by school administrators and parents.

The poem in question, “Please Master,” describes — in somewhat graphic detail — our boy Allen’s gay sexual fantasies. You can read the entire poem here, but here is an excerpt:

please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
please master can I take off my clothes below your chair
please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul
please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh
please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach

Parents were less than pleased. “I don’t understand how that actually got into a high school class,” one parent told WTNH. “I can understand parents being really upset about it.”

The teacher has been identified by NBC’s connecticut affiliate as David Olio — and the school was swift in denouncing his actions. “We take seriously the trust that parents place in teachers and administrators, and we do not tolerate the use of inappropriate materials in classroom settings,” South Windsor Superintendent Kate Carter said in a statement.

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'Daily Show' Jewish Reunion: Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson

By Anne Cohen

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson dropped by “The Daily Show” on Tuesday night, making it kind of a Jewish love-fest.

The two “Broad City” stars couldn’t really handle the fact that they were in the presence of the Jon Stewart. He, in turn, was in awe of how awesome they are. Hugs all around!

Check out the whole thing below:



Pol Admits Sext Affair With Anthony Weiner's Online Pal

By Reuters

Anthony Weiner with his wife, Huma Abedin, at a recent New York event./Getty Images

(Reuters) — An Indiana lawmaker apologized on Tuesday following online reports that he traded sexually explicit text messages with a woman involved in a similar controversy with disgraced ex-lawmaker Anthony Weiner, the Indianapolis Star newspaper reported.

“I am truly sorry I have hurt the ones I love most with my poor judgment,” Democratic state Representative Justin Moed said in a statement to the Star.

“This is a private matter and I ask for it to be treated as such. I apologize to my constituents and to everyone I have let down.”

Reuters could not immediately verify the report. Moed could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night.

The apology published by the Star did not specifically reference allegations made in the article by gossip website TheDirty.com, which said Moed responded to an advertisement posted by Sydney Leathers.

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Will Ben and Jerry's Next Ice Cream Flavor Be Pot?

By Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Ben & Jerry’s ice cream comes in a lot of flavors, but so far, marijuana isn’t one of them.

However, the company’s, ahem, joint founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, indicated that could change should the drug become widely legalized in the United States.

Speaking on HuffPost Live on Wednesday, the two, who are both Jewish, seemed open to the idea of a pot-infused ice cream after a viewer asked about it.

“Makes sense to me,” Cohen said. “Combine your pleasures.”

Greenfield said, “Ben and I have had previous experiences with substances, and I think legalizing marijuana is a wonderful thing. It’s not my decision. If it were my decision, I’d be doing it, but fortunately we have wiser heads at the company that figure those things out.”

While the effects might be pleasurable, would weed-flavored ice cream taste good? Would it, like the brand’s other flavors, be certified kosher? And what quirky name would the company give it? Since Half-Baked is already taken, I’m guessing Chocolate Pot Brownie.


'Zoolander 2' Is Coming — And It's Really, Really, Ridiculously Exciting

By Lior Zaltzman

Getty Images

It’s been over a decade, but Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald are so hot right now!

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson made a surprise appearance at Paris Fashion Week’s Valentino show as their characters from the 2001 movie “Zoolander,” the fan-favorite comedy about, well, really really ridiculously good-looking male models. The two had a dramatic walk off on the Paris runway and proved that they’ve still got it going on. Did you catch a glint of that Blue Steel?

They used to glorious runway stunt to promote the upcoming release of a “Zoolander” sequel! “Zoolander 2” will be in theaters near you on February 12, 2016. We CAN’T WAIT. Will Ferrel’s nefarious Mugatu will also be making a comeback, and we’re hoping for a cameo by our favorite Jewish acting dad, Jerry Stiller!

The two even snuck a selfie backstage with — dare we say it — another fashion villain. Anna Wintour makes Jacobim Mugatu look like, well, Jacob Moogberg.


Watch Bette Midler Sing Kim Kardashian Tweets

By Anne Cohen

What’s better than mocking a Kim Kardashian tweet? Hearing Bette Midler sing them out loud.

During an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Monday, the Broadway star took the comedian’s signature bit, “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” one step further, belting out such gems as: “Ugh, I hate falling asleep with all my makeup on,” and “I never thought I would ever say this … But I’m wearing flats today.”

Thank you Bette, for giving voice to Kim’s deepest and darkest thoughts.

[h/t Time]


Peter Max Paints Frank Sinatra

By Masha Leon

The Peter Max March 2 opening night private reception for his “Peter Max Paints Sinatra” extravaganza was wall-to-wall and shoulder-to-hip-with celebrities, friends, admirers and Max collectors. Among the evening’s eye-catching beauties and “names” — Tony Danza,, Steven Van Zandt, Elaine Sargent and several Russian-accented stunners. When I told 74-year-old (and still fabulous) Nancy Sinatra — there with her daughter Amanda Erlinger —  that whenever I put on a pair of boots I heard “in my head” her iconic rendition of “My Boots are Made for Walking,” I got a look and someone nearby began to hum the theme.

The event marked the launch of Max’s series of 27 portraits of Frank Sinatra on the occasion of the Frank Sinatra Centennial “Sinatra: An American Icon” curated by the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE, in collaboration with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Sinatra Family.

As Karen and I mingled, sipped Perrier and waved at familiar faces. we noticed several Sinatra canvases –each reputedly valued at nearly $50,000 — being maneuvered twixt guests and Max for photo ops. Beleaguered by fans, friends, I was only able to have a quick chat with Peter who — for part of the evening — held court sitting on a sofa next to PR Maven R. Couri Hay.

Nancy Sinatra and Peter Max // photo credit: Karen Leon

I had first met Peter Max at a 1960’s American Bookseller’s Convention in Washington, D.C. at which he was autographing psychedelic posters. In1989, at Brown’s Hotel in the Catskills, I met his father — Jacob Finkelstein — who introduced me to the family’s amazing survival saga. Fleeing Warsaw to Berlin where they had been hidden by Christians, the family fled via Italy to Shanghai with 7 months old Peter. Max–an honoree at a Pratt Institute Black Tie event a few years ago– told me: “Those were the nicest ten year of my life.” In 1950, with the rise of Communism, the family fled to Israel, and then came to the U.S.

In July 16, 1997 Lea Rabin — in town to raise funds for the Yitzhak Rabin Centre in Israel — visited his studio and admired his “36 Rabins” several of which were exhibited at a UJA-Federation gala at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Max was also commissioned by President Clinton to paint the historic signing of the Peace Accord between Rabin and Yasser Arafat. The official artist for “Jerusalem 3000” Max told me during an interview at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “I did 32 Martin Luther Kings, 40 Gorby’s [Gorbachev], 50 Trumans, 108 Dalmatians, 200 Clintons — Goofy, Mickey Mouse and — [in 1996] was working on Hillary.” Sinatra is in good company.


Ruth Bader Ginsberg is So Cool, She Has Her Own Lego Figure

By Lior Zaltzman

Maia Weinstock Forget Lego Friends — MIT news editor Maia Weinstock has created custom legos any mother would love to have her daughters (and sons!) play with.

A real life (Lego) Justice League!

In honor of International Women’s Day (Sunday, March 8), Weistock created a custom lego set of the four Supreme Court women justices. Including MOTs Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elana Kagan. Yes, 50% of this awesome Justice League is Jewish. Major pride.

Aside from creating the lego replicas of the four justices, which she calls “the Legal Justice League”, Weinstock also created a replica of the Supreme Court and a SCOTUS library/study, so kids can engage in some serious legislative play.

Weinstock says she created this judicial replica ” to encourage girls and women to work toward high positions in the U.S. judicial system.”

I have to say, if I had this lego set growing up, I would definitely be inspired to don some black robes and do some real justice!

Here, see for yourself:

Maia Weistock

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Ben Bram Wants to Bring A Cappella Back to the Masses

By Hilary Saunders

Kevin Olusola, Ben Bram, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grass, Kirstie Maldonado and Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix at the Grammys // Getty Images

Back when we rounded up 11 Jewish Things To Watch For At the Grammys, we directed your attention to the main televised performance that featured on screen. But a few hours before Tony Bennett performed a duet with Lady Gaga and Kristen Wiig dressed up like Sia, hundreds of musicians and music professionals gathered for a pre-telecast awards ceremony.

“There are two ceremonies,” explains Ben Bram, a Jewish millennial, music producer, arranger, music director, and engineer. “There’s the main telecast where they give out the top awards and all the performances. And then there’s the pre-telecast. They call it the Premiere Ceremony. It’s like three hours long and they give out like 75 awards.”

Bram calls from the road in Oakland while on tour with Pentatonix, a five-person a capella group with whom he won the Grammy for “Best Arrangement, Instrumental, A Cappella” at the 2015 award ceremony. The group’s medley of Daft Punk songs (that includes “Technologic,” “One More Time,” “Get Lucky,” “Digital Love,” “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” “Television Rules The Nation,” and “Around The World”) beat out other nominees who performed versions of standards like “Guantanamera” and “Beautiful Dreamer.”

Pentatonix, comprised of Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan, Kirstin Maldonado and Kevin Olusola, are signed to RCA Records. Along with Bram, who records their albums and co-arranges with the band, Pentatonix attended the ceremony and celebrated their new hardware together.

Bram recalls: “The six of us were sitting together on the aisle. I hadn’t really been nervous at all…but then two awards before ours, I started getting really nervous. My heart was pounding and I was like, ‘Oh wow, this is a really big deal!’ It just hit me then.

“So then they read off the nominees and then they read off our names. And my name was actually first because it was in alphabetical order. So they said my name and then everyone just got up and cheered. We all rushed the stage. It was crazy!”

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Video Killed the Bar Mitzvah Boy

By Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Another slick bar mitzvah invitation video of questionable taste has gone viral.

This time it’s for the impending bar mitzvah of Brody Criz, whose invitation consists of him starring in a Jew-ified medley of pop-song parodies — including one of “Blurred Lines,” the song to which Miley Cyrus famously twerked. Fortunately, Criz doesn’t twerk, but he does bare way more skin than I’d like to see, even if I weren’t more than three times his age.

In cases like this, it’s easy to pile on with judgments about materialism, superficiality, “all bar, no mitzvah” and so on. And were I to join that chorus, I’d no doubt be met with an onslaught of “lighten up” and “it’s all in good fun”-type responses.

But it’s also hard not to be a little horrified at this latest installment in both the annals of keeping up with the neighbor’s bar mitzvah and YouTube self-promotion.

Especially when one finds out that Criz’s video, was produced by a “team of professionals, including filmmakers, writers and actors.”

According to The Daily Beast, these videos cost $3,000 to $5,000 to produce. And they often come in addition to a $3,000-$6,000 professionally produced video montage screened at the party. Not to mention the expenditures on catering, DJs, clothing, swag and who knows what else.

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Remembering Cardinal Egan, Who Studied Hebrew in Rome

By Masha Leon

Cardinal Edward Egan — who died on March 5 at 82 of cardiac arrest — was a frequent welcome presence at Jewish-related events. My last chat with him was at the December 19, 2012 “Vodka and Latke” celebration honoring Rabbi Joseph Potasnik’s “Special Birthday” [his 65th] held at the New York City Fire Museum. Addressing a political who’s who dense crowd that included Mayor Ed Koch, Peter Vallone, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President **Marty Markowitz,” the Cardinal who had been the 9th Archbishop of New York, offered his “Mazel Tov” then lauded Potasnik for his help in organizing the 9/11 Tribute at Yankee Stadium.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Cardinal Egan // Photo by Karen Leon

At the July 17, 2007 party for Israel’s then departing consul general Arye Mekel, an event hosted jointly by UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council, Cardinal Egan pointed to Mekel and declared: “You call yourself an Israeli! We call you a New Yorker!. You had two and a half million Jews to take care of and I have two and a half million Catholics to take care of.” After the laughter subsided, the Cardinal informed: “ I know a little Hebrew, the beautiful language of Moses and David. Learned it in a seminary in Rome, taught by a Croatian in Latin from a German textbook!”

Spotting Ruth Mekel in the crowd, Cardinal Egan joshed: “The wife is more important” then went over and kissed her on the cheek. A cool Mekel had the assemblage roaring with his aside: “And the Cardinal knows about kissing wives!”

Unable to attend the September 6, 2006 opening of “A Blessing to One Another–Pope John Paul & The Jewish People”–an inspiring exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —  the Cardinal made sure he was represented by Vicar General Bishop Roger Brucato.

Whatever the event, whenever I met him, he was ever gracious, smiling and, remarkably, remembered what paper I wrote for.

Perhaps my most searing memory relates to the September 9, 2001 ceremony at the corner of Lexington Avenue at 54th street where 1000 congregants of Central Synagogue were gathered for a rededication ceremony on the occasion of the rebuilding of the sanctuary following a devastating fire. Among the notables that day: N.Y. Governor George Pataki, N.Y. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani,and NYC Fire Chief Peter Ganci who had rushed into the synagogue and helped Rabbi Peter Rubenstein save the synagogue’s Torahs during the conflagration and were being re-dedicated that day and returned to their place in the synagogue.

Two days later Chief Ganci would heroically perish in the 9/11 Towers attack — a tragedy to which Cardinal Egan would often refer to at subsequent occasions.


This Kid Just Won the Bar Mitzvah Video Wars

By Anne Cohen

Move over, Sam Horowitz. I dub thee Brody Criz, King of Bar Mitzvah videos.

The soon-to-man has created what is probably the most insane bar mitzvah invite ever by parodying Pharrell, John Legend, Lorde, “Frozen” and others who shall remain nameless — gotta keep a little mystery.

I both love and respect this kid and want to die for him a little bit at the same time. Just wait until they show this at his wedding.

Kudos to his family for playing along with this (I would be the sullen brother in blue). Whatever you do, stick around to the end. You won’t regret it.


[h/t Buzzfeed]


PHOTOS: In Israel, Purim is the Biggest Party Ever

By Lior Zaltzman

Forget about Halloween! Purim is the real party in Israel.

Every year, thousands of children head to school dressed up in their finest costumes, their mishloach manot in hand. That goes for grown ups too (any excuse to tap into your inner child).

In cities across the country, big parades, called Adloyada, travel through town, showing off gorgeous floats, all to the sound of music and happy youngsters.

What does that all look like, you ask? Here are some festive pictures from across the Jewish state:

Politics on Purim: before the parade, an artist pastes the faces of Israeli politicians on traditional parade floats:

Getty Images


Getty Images


King Bibi!

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An Adloyada in the streets of the Israeli city of Netanya:

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Pushing the Purim Spiel Envelope at Jewish Museum Ball

By Masha Leon

Sparkling and irreverent does not begin to describe the Jewish Museum’s 29th Annual Purim Ball at which more than 700 guests — with credentials in the arts, fashion, philanthropy and entertainment — mingled at the Armory which was decorated with thousands of bathed-in-purple light shimmering miniature mirrors suspended overhead…helped raise $2 million.

Claudia Gould, the museum’s Helen Goldsmith Menschel director, introduced museum chairman emeritus Morris Offit, and Meyer Sulzberger Award recipients — still working-at-96 president of Eugene M. Grant & Company LLC real estate investment and development firm, and philanthropist Eugene Grant and his wife Emily Grant. Among Grant’s life philosophy gems: “Give love…help all forms of Jewish community organizational life” and “give thanks for a treasured productive life as an American Jew in this goldene medineh (golden land).”

Karen Leon

Touting Purim Ball honoree photographer, artist, filmmaker Laurie Simmons — subject of an upcoming Jewish Museum exhibition opening March 13 — Gould informed that the early Simmons film short showing skimpily clothed underwater female swimmers — Simmons with camera included — was shot in Queens College’s swimming pool. Gould also revealed that when it came to choosing the evening’s Purimspieler–it was Simmons’ daughter Lena Dunham — creator and star of HBO series “Girls” and herself a 2013 Purim Ball Museum honoree who,“coming to the rescue,” suggested Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine Jerry Saltz.

Introduced by Gould as “The Larry David of the art world [who] brings art history, Jewish history and his very, very unique sense of humor to the Purimspiel,” Saltz launched his spin with: “Hello Jew New York! or Boca Raton!, Scarsdale and Mamaroneck in the house! …Haifa! Happy Purim Jews and not Jews…We start with King Ahatzurus of 5th century Persia [a blow up photo of Donald Trump on a large screen] who 50 years ago tore down the Fontainebleau in Jerusalem [alternating photo montages of Koch Brothers, Herman Cain and others on screen].

Karen Leon

“The king is married to Queen Vashti” — [Sarah Palin] as onscreen pictures ran the gamut from an unclad Cher to a Kardashian derriere and, among others, Liz Taylor. “The king summons his wife] Vashti. She refused; she had a headache — a Jewish American princess — [oddly she’s not Jewish!]. They kill her. The king needs new wife. Enter Mordechai, a kind of Jewish busybody… activist….Isaac Mizrahi [a guest at the ball] speculated he might have been a gay designer… Esther wins the contest — it is the first intermarriage. Just think about it — the Queen of Persia being a Jew. Mordechai, dressed as Dame Edna, Haman (graggers!!!) suffered from speckle shmekel syndrome [Yiddish euphemism for the male member with accompanying medieval naked male organ images]. The king realizes that Haman is a scum anti-Semite…Esther tells the king she and Mordechai are Jewish…. Jews want the right to defend themselves. America arms the Jews, gives them weapons and the Six-Day War basically took place and the Jews won and that’s the reason you are here today and not enslaved.” During our light-hearted dinner chat, Saltz told me that his grandparents came from Estonia and that before this event he had never heard of Purim.

Among the evening’s masks, my favorites were the couple I dubbed “the cabbage heads.” More than 500 — mostly young — revelers were at the After Party.


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