The Shmooze

Haim Don't Care About Your Mean Tweets

By Anne Cohen

Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” never gets old. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s simple: famous people sit down and read what the trolls of the Internet have to say about them. Out loud. The latest edition features musicians: Wiz Khalifa, Britney Spears, Blake Shelton, Lady Gaga, and our favorites, Jewish girl band Haim.

Este, Danielle and Alana Haim had what we deem the best reaction in “Mean Tweets” history.

Responding to @showmethesign’s, “Let’s face it, the girls from Haim are ugly as f—k and perform like they’re orgasming,” Alana quips: “I kind of like that.”

Suck it haters.

As an aside, Drake, also a member of the tribe, has an excellent sad face. Don’t worry, we don’t think that “Drake looks like Voldemort with hair.”

Speaking of those who hate, hate, hate, Haim will be touring with Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour. We can’t wait, wait, wait.

Gay Marriage Isn't Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, Mike Huckabee

By Anne Cohen

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Forget that same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Mike Huckabee thinks that forcing people opposed to gay marriage to accept it is like “asking somebody who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.”

Right. Those Jews, they don’t eat things like seafood and pork. I’m with you there, Mike. For the sake of argument, let’s let him continue.

“We’re not going to do that,” the former Baptist minister told CNN, adding: “We’re not going to ask a Muslim to serve up, ah, something that is offensive to him, to have dogs in his backyard.”


“We’re so sensitive to make sure we don’t offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can’t have the convictions that they have had for over 2,000 years.”

In the words of Jon Stewart, that “makes no f—king sense.”

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Pastrami Talk With 'Deli Man' Director Erik Greenberg Anjou

By Masha Leon

With platters of pastrami sandwiches, pickles and coleslaw beckoning nearby, Ben’s 38th Street Delicatessen was the ideal setting for my interview with Erik Greenberg Anjou producer-director of the soon to open film “Deli Man.”

“I was born outside of Pittsburgh. My mother’s family emigrated from Russian-Romanian border,” said Anjou. “Briefly in France, the family changed the name [Anjou] then on to Germany and Ellis Island. Every male in my family was a doctor, so it was inculcated that my destiny was to be a doctor. But I fell in love with literature and story telling…with the film form and from 21 on was compelled by movies. My first producing job was Cantor Jack Mendelssohn’s documentary “A Cantor’s Tale.” I told Anjou that Mendelssohn — who is featured in “Deli Man” — was at one time the cantor in my synagogue Temple Gates of Prayer in Flushing.

Karen Leon
Erik Greenspan Anjou

“For me the deli was the medium — not the message,” said Anjou. Was the concept his…how did he choose the delis he showcased in the film. “I located the best people to do the research, spent some time which were the best to visit.” Did he speak Yiddish? “Not even a bisele — a tiny bit. My favorite expression is ‘pastrami, pastrami, pastrami.’” Anybody’s pastrami particularly special? “You’re getting into dangerous territory,” he cautioned. “I just love it with lots of spicy mustard — keep it simple.”

“Two things surprised me,” said Anjou. “The amazing sagacity of the deli owners I met. They are poet-philosophers of pastrami. They are chefs and community builders…and they also do tremendous things to survive as business men.” “Guess you never met a deli man who did not have a sense of humor,” I posited. “Absolutely not! Sometimes some of them are tough nuts. To me a guy like Dennis Howard who used to be at The Carnegie Deli is hysterically funny–but he’s got that tough exterior that you only find in New York.

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Israelis Pull Super Bowl All-Nighter

By Ben Sales

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There were wings, beers, giant TV screens, and football fans wearing New England Patriots sweatshirts and Seattle Seahawks jerseys. If not for the fact that it was 1 a.m. and former Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid stood in the center of the bar, it could have been mistaken for Anytown USA.

Most Israelis don’t mark Super Bowl Sunday — or, really, Super Bowl Early Monday Morning — in any real way. But a group of Americans in Israel (and some Israelis who became acquainted with American football during stateside stints) showed up past midnight, an hour before the kickoff, putting off sleep and trying to forget about work the next day to watch the big game.

Elie Pieprz, who in 2012 founded a nonprofit to urge American-Israelis to vote in U.S. elections, came to see the game with his 11-year-old daughter, Eliana, in what has become an annual tradition for them. Father and daughter, pulling for Seattle, both wore Washington Redskins jerseys.

“We feel strongly about our connection to America,” Pieprz said. “We didn’t make aliyah to leave America. We’re bringing the best part of America to Israel.”

This Super Bowl party in central Tel Aviv was sponsored by Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, the centrist faction that for now boasts the Knesset’s only American lawmaker, Dov Lipman. Wearing a black sweater along with his trademark black velvet kipah, Lipman appeared chipper at halftime as Katy Perry ascended a robotic lion on a TV screen behind him.

“I thought to myself, there’s enough Anglos in Israel who want to watch, so why not watch it together?” said Lipman, who helped organize the gathering. “It’s not a political event. People are coming to watch the game.”

Some 200 fans attended the party, but most were surprisingly quiet for people who chose to pull an all-nighter to watch the big game. Aside from some hard-core New England fans in the center of the room, much of the crowd timidly cheered for the Seahawks.

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Is Patriots Wide Receiver Julian Edelman Jewish?

By Gabe Friedman

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JTA — During the Super Bowl Sunday night, many Jews across the country no doubt had the same question: Is Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman Jewish?

Edelman had an excellent game Sunday night, catching nine passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in New England’s dramatic comeback victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He also happens to have a Jewish-sounding name. But is he actually a member of the tribe?

While his father has Ashkenazi roots, this is what Edelman had to say on the topic on a media day before his previous Super Bowl appearance with the Patriots in 2012:

“Well, I’m not completely Jewish, if you know what I mean. I know people want me to be. My father is Jewish. My mother isn’t. I’ve been asked this before. I guess you could say I’m kind of Jewish but not really.”

For the record, while traditional Jews believe one must have a Jewish mother or convert in order to be considered Jewish, both Reform and Reconstructionist Jews recognize patrilineal descent.

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The Best Part of the Super Bowl? Idina Menzel

By John A. Oswald

Idina Menzel sings the National Anthem at the Super Bowl// Getty Images

It may have been a football game but Jewish diva Idina Menzel hit a home run with her version of the Star Spangled Banner.

Katy Perry at halftime? Feh.

No. For us at The Forward, Idina Menzel (or Adele Nazeem, if you’re John Travolta) Let It Go!

America agrees. Elsa the Snow Queen was Flawless.

And that black jumpsuit by Angel Sanchez? Perfect.

Ex-husband Taye Diggs, with whom the “Frozen” star has a son, gushed: “Yup. Baby Mama crushed it at the Super Bowl.”


Menzel has sung the National Anthem at other sporting events, but this, by far, was her largest audience ever.

Menzel hit all the notes just right — a big difference from a month ago when she flubbed a high note on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and suffered a quick death by Twitter.

Ah, social media, you give and you take.

She asked the Twitterati before taking the field to “send me good vibes.”

The former “Wicked” star exclaimed, “Yes” when she nailed that final note Sunday night.

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Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake Are Having a Baby

By John A. Oswald

At one point or other, Justin Timberlake has been every Jewish girl’s fantasy gentile boyfriend.

And that makes the gentleladies here at The Forward convinced — absolutely convinced — that he cooed these Paul Anka lyrics to his wife, Jessica Biel, when the EPT came back with a plus sign.

“You’re having my baby
What a lovely way of sayin’ how much you love me.
Having my baby
What a lovely way of sayin’ what you’re thinkin’ of me.”

A modern feminist interpretation describes the song as utterly sexist, but we could see Biel getting all doe-eyed as the hunk-a-dunk sang on.

Ok. None of this happened. All we know is what Timberlake Instagrammed: a pic of him kissing the gorgeous actress/model’s baby bump.

Justin Timberlake/Instagram

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Need a Baby-Sitter? Bibi's Your Man

By Anne Cohen

It looks like Benjamin Netanyahu has a new career path lined up — you know, in case the Israeli elections don’t pan out.

A new campaign ad released Saturday shows a couple getting ready for a night on the town. The doorbell rings. It’s the baby-sitter. Or is it?

“You asked for a babysitter, you got a Bibi-sitter,” says a smirking Netanyahu. “Where are the children?”

The parents, understandably confused as to what their country’s prime minister is doing at their door, ask Bibi why he should be the one to watch over their children.

It’s either me, or Tzipi and Bougie,” he replies, referring to Zionist Camp’s Tzipi Livni and Issac Herzog. Oh, no! Not them. The parents shake their heads, demonstrating their mistrust.

Herzog needs his own baby-sitter, the dad jokes. Zing. And Livni? “By the time you get back she’ll probably go over to the neighbors,” Netanyahu quips back. (Livni has skipped to and from four political parties).

The ad conspicuously shows no children. Netanyahu’s previous campaign ad, which showed him as the only adult in a kindergarten class full of children named after Israeli political leaders (subtle, Bibi, real subtle), was banned by the Central Election Committee. Showing children under 15 for political gain is a no-no.

How About a Kosher Super Bowl Half Time Show?

By Gabe Friedman

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From Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 to rapper M.I.A.’s middle finger to the camera in 2012, the Super Bowl Halftime Show has not been very kosher in recent years. The halftime show, which usually features some of the most popular musical acts in the world, is often a spectacle of scantily clad dancers and songs that reference sex.

Last year pop singer Bruno Mars and the rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers played a reasonably family-friendly set, but this year’s headliner, Katy Perry, will most likely bring the show back into familiar territory.

For those looking for a more family-friendly (or a more Jewish) alternative to the usual halftime show antics, Orthodox radio host Nachum Segal provides a solution: the second annual “Kosher Halftime Show.”

Since 1983, Segal, the son of Rabbi Zev Segal, has hosted “Jewish Moments in the Morning” for WFMU 91.1 FM, a Jersey City-based radio station. His usual show includes music (from Hasidic rock to modern Israeli and klezmer music), Jewish and Israeli news, and guest interviews. He calls his longstanding show a “Jewish radio empire.”

This year’s “Kosher Halftime Show,” to be streamed on, will feature the jam band Soulfarm, whose co-founder C. Lanzbom has worked with Pete Seeger and Shlomo Carlebach.

“There are many families that enjoy watching the game together, but when the halftime show starts they are uncomfortable,” Segal said in a press release, which also estimates that last year’s show drew over 10,000 viewers.

Nevertheless, for those who are going to stay on the couch for the duration of the normal ceremonies, there will still be at least one Jewish element to the normal Super Bowl this year: Jewish singer Idina Menzel, known for her lead roles in “Frozen” and “Wicked,” will sing the national anthem to kick off the game.

Wait, Johnny Depp Wants to Be a Mohel?

By Anne Cohen

It looks like Johnny Depp is just as depressed about his acting career as you are.

During an appearance on Israeli TV show, “Erev Tov With Guy Pines.” the “Mortdecai” actor revealed that he’s been considering a change of pace to become… a mohel?

Thanks to Tablet for pointing out the fantastic exchange below:

Host: “Johnny, you heard of Purim?”

Johnny Depp: “No, but I can tell you that I have given serious though to becoming a…”

Host: “A Jew?”

Johnny Depp: “A mohel”

Paul Bettany (also there to promote the movie): “Like an emergency mohel”

Johnny Depp: “That’s it. It’s more like an on-call mohel.”

Let’s just get this straight: the man who played Edward Scissorhands wants to do your bris? Looks like Tim Burton might have a plot for his new movie.

Tom Brady Has a Menorah at Home

By Gabe Friedman

Getty Images

(JTA) — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a couple of Jewish connections.

Since 2012, his brother-in-law has been retired Jewish baseball player Kevin Youkilis, a former all-star third baseman for the Boston Red Sox. The owner of the Patriots, the only team Brady has played for in his 15 years in the NFL, is Robert Kraft, a Jewish business magnate and philanthropist who also owns the New England Revolution soccer team.

But no one can explain why Brady has a menorah.

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Chelsea Handler Goes Topless For Middle East Peace

By Anne Cohen

So, Chelsea Handler went topless again.

This time though, it was all in the name of peace. Handler is currently in Israel to help raise funds to the Tal Center for Integrative Oncology the Sheba Medical Center. Apparently, the combination of desert, sunset and camel gave her the sudden urge to disrobe.

“A Muslim allowed a topless Jew to sit on his camel,” the caption reads. “And we say we can’t live side by side? I say we try and we can and we will. And, You don’t even have to be topless. L’chaim”

In October, Handler posted a similar photo to Instagram, mocking a picture of Russian president Vladimir Putin bare-chested on horseback. That caption read: “Anything a man can do, a woman has the right to do better. #kremlin”

[h/t Tablet]

It's Over. Israel's Wix Wins Super Bowl Ad War

By John A. Oswald

Tel Aviv-based web development company has what we think is one of the funniest Super Bowl ads set to air this Sunday and it stars former Green Bay Packer Brett Favre and four other retired football greats.

Favre was the quarterback who just couldn’t quit the NFL. He retired, then unretired, then joined the Jets for one season and the Vikings for two.

The quarterback’s rep is seized on by the folks at Wix to tell their story and sell their cloud-based web page-making service.

Favre turns to his agent, “Entourage” actor Rex Lee (Lloyd), about making yet another comeback.

Favre: “What about Canada?

Lee: “Nope.”

Favre: “That indoor league?”

Lee: “Nope.”

Favre: “What am I gonna do?”

Lee: “Do what everybody else does. Start a business. Build a website.”

And that’s where Wix and its #ItsThatEasy campaign, comes in.

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'Cabaret' Star Joel Grey Opens Up About His Sexuality

By Anne Cohen

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Joel Grey has been many things in his life: an unforgettable MC in “Cabaret,” an evil reptilian demon on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a dying scientist on “House,” and a doctor on “Private Practice.”

But all while giving us these characters, he was keeping a part of himself secret. Now, at 82, the Jewish actor has decided to come out. I don’t like labels,” Grey told People in a recent interview, “but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.”

Grey was married for 24 years to actress Jo Wilder, with whom he has two children: James, a chef, and “Dirty Dancing” actress Jennifer Grey. Family and friends, he says, have known about his sexual orientation for years, but this is the first time he has ever spoken about it publicly.

“All the people close to me have known for years who I am,” Grey told People “[Yet] it took time to embrace that other part of who I always was.”

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The Teaser for 'Wet Hot American Summer' Series is Here!

By Anne Cohen

The rumors are true! The teaser for Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer” reboot is finally here.

The eight-part series based on the Jewiest camp movie ever made will take place on the first day of camp during the summer of 1981. Fans of the the original (and if you’re not, just stop reading) will know that it took place on the last day of camp, that very same summer.

So, basically Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Meloni, David Hyde Pierce, and Bradley Cooper need to play younger versions of their 2001 selves. Good thing regular people things like aging don’t exist in Hollywood.

If the teaser is to be trusted, the show will be released in early summer. Just in time for camp.

Here’s a little something to get you in the mood:

'Night Will Fall': A Documentary Within a Documentary

By Masha Leon

“Not only have I seen the film but I am in the film!” said Menachem Rosensaft following the [January 15] pre-screening of HBO’s Concentration Camp Liberation documentary “Night Will Fall” held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust which debuted on HBO on January 26 with an encore on January 27.

World Jewish Congress Counsel Rosensaft — who told me he was born on May 1, 1948 “in the Bergen Belsen Displaced Persons Camp”— said “I think this is one of the most important film documentaries about the realities of the liberation and the political aftermath of liberation, when politics turned very quickly from wanting to highlight atrocities that had been committed at Bergen Belsen and elsewhere to a policy of ‘letting bygones be bygones’ — considering the survivors and their plight as a political inconvenience.”

Welcoming the preview guests, museum chairman Bruce Ratner informed “I am honored that, once we expressed our strong desire to screen the film, HBO decided that the museum was the perfect setting to present the New York City premiere”. Guests included — coincidentally named [no relation] — the film’s producer Brett Ratner; its film director Andre Singer, its co-producer Sally Angel, HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins, Consul General of Israel Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, Raye Farr U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum interview subject, Dr. Ruth Westheimer a Museum of Jewish Heritage trustee and its director David Marwell.

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7 Moving Images From Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation

By Lior Zaltzman

January 27, 2015 marks the 70 year anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and International Holocaust Remembrance day. With many of the survivors getting older, for some this may be the last year to commemorate the horrors and loss. Here are some moving pictures of the commemorations from around the world:

UNITED KINGDOM : Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger, aged 84 looks at one of only 70 special candles commissioned to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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KRAKOW, POLAND: (L-R) 81-year-old Paula Lebovics, 79-year-old Miriam Ziegler, 85-year-old Gabor Hirsch and 80-year-old Eva Kor pose with the original image of them as children taken at Auschwitz at the time of its liberation.

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OSWIECIM, POLAND: Members of an association of Auschwitz survivors, including one showing a medal given to Polish former concentration camp prisoners, depart after laying wreaths at the execution wall at Auschwitz concentration camp .

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Oswiecim, Poland:Polish born oldest known Holocaust survivor and Yehuda Widawski, from Tel Aviv, arrives at a tent build in front of the entrance of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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PARIS, FRANCE: Francois Hollande with Auschwitz survivor Ida Grinspan speaks with five Jews deported and five young French Jews.

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LIMA, PERU: Hirsz Litmanowiczin, octogenarian Auschwitz survivor, where he was a messenger of Josef Mengele, and who emigrated to Peru in 1952 , believes that religion and economics have become the engine of intolerance 70 years after the Holocaust.

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JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: Young Israeli soldiers at Yad VaShem on International Holocaust Memorial Day.

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9 Jewish Things To Watch If You're Snowed In

By Anne Cohen

If you’re on the East Coast right now, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re hunkered down with a fridge full of food and a couple of extra blankets. So, what better time to catch up on all those shows and movies you’ve been meaning to see?

Here are a couple of our more Jewish suggestions:

1) The Honourable Woman

This 8-part mini-series/Middle East thriller won Maggie Gyllenhaal a Golden Globe this year. Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman, hiding a dark secret.

Available on Netflix

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Natalie Portman Attends First Dior Couture Show

By Anne Cohen

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It may come as a surprise that Natalie Portman, face of Miss Dior, has never actually attended a Dior show.

And yet, sitting in the front row at yesterday’s Haute Couture show held at the Musee Rodin in Paris, she reportedly gushed: “I’ve never been to a couture show,” she said. “This is my first time. I’m super, super excited.”


But as The New York Times points out, Portman’s attendance is actually somewhat significant. In 2011, when John Galliano – then Dior’s creative director – made his infamous anti-Semitic rant in a Paris cafe, the actress was one of the first to condemn him.

“In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way,” the face of the fashion house’s Miss Cherie Dior wrote at the time. “I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.”

Galliano’s replacement, Raf Simons, has apparently been working hard to redeem the brand. Natalie is still under contract.

The Oscar-winner celebrated her big day dressed head to toe in black Dior (natch), but her best accessory was hubby and new director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Benjamin Millepied.

Steven Spielberg Warns of Hatred 'Demons' on Rise

By Wojciech Zurawski and Wiktor Szary

(Reuters) — Hollywood director Steven Spielberg said on Monday he hoped that the Holocaust commemorations taking place in Poland on Tuesday will be a warning for future generations, in light of a rising tide of anti-Semitism and intolerance against Jews.

Spielberg was talking to Holocaust survivors in the southern Polish city of Krakow, ahead of the main event marking 70 years since Soviet troops liberated the Nazi German Auschwitz death camp.

“If you are a Jew today, in fact if you are any person who believes in the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom in free expression, you know that like many other groups, we are once again facing the perennial demons of intolerance,” the Oscar-winning filmmaker said.

The director won an Academy Award for Best Director for “Schindler’s List,” his 1993 movie about a German who saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, warned of spreading anti-Semitism.

getty images

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