The Shmooze

Egypt's Richest Man Buys Edgar Bronfman's NYC Penthouse for $70M

By Anne Cohen

And the record for most expensive co-op ever sold in New York City goes to… Nassef Sawiris.

The richest man in Egypt, reportedly worth roughly $7 billion dollars (and ranked as 193rd richest person in the world by Forbes) has purchased 960 Fifth avenue, previously owned by the late billionaire Edgar Bronfman, Sr., who died in December at age 84, Curbed reports.

The price? A whopping $70 million. In cash.

The 16-room apartment, which includes five bedrooms and eight bathrooms, complete with a wraparound terrace overlooking Central Park, is said to be one of the most prestigious addresses in New York City. But Nawiris may have to pull a Moses and part the Dead Sea of furniture (so many Exodus jokes, so little time) if he wants to actually live in his new dream pad. The Real Deal points out that the penthouse — or really, let’s just say it: PALACE — needs to be gut renovated, but my guess is that Sawiris, who heads Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt’s most valuable publicly traded company, has some spare change to throw around.

The previous record for the most expensive co-op was set by David Geffen, when he bought 785 Fifth Avenue for $54 million in 2012.

Here’s a glimpse of what you could buy if you had $70 million lying around. For the jaw-dropping views, head over to Curbed.




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Topol Wows at Folksbiene 'Fiddler' 50th

By Masha Leon

Lots of Motls, Goldas and Tzeitels, but only one world-famous Tevye — Topol— were on stage at Town Hall for the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene’s June 9 extravaganza “Raising the Roof: A tribute to “Fiddler on the Roof.”

The show seamlessly showcased multi-generational alumni of “Fiddler”— including Pia Zadora – reaching back to the 1967 Broadway opening through its decades’-long, worldwide incarnations. A 91-year young Fyvush Finkel danced onto the stage as Lazer Wolf the butcher, arguing in Yiddish, with Tevye the Milkman Mike Burstyn. Violinist Joshua Bell performed a medley of “Fiddler” themes and Austin Pendleton, the first Motl the Tailor, sang “Miracles of Miracles.”

Karen Leon
Zalmen Mlotek

“I don’t know about you, but for me this has been a hell of an evening,” 90-years-young “Fiddler” lyricist Sheldon Harnick, told the audience. Thanking Folksbiene’s artistic director Zalmen Mlotek “without whom this event could not have happened,” Harnick joined Andrea Martin (Golde in a 2004 revival) in the heartwarming farklempt duet: “Do You Love Me?”

Read more


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12 Jewish Celebrity Dads in Honor of Father's Day

By Anne Cohen

We love a good celebrity dad. Here, we’ve rounded up our favorites — from David Beckham to (the almost Jewish) Jason Biggs.

Enjoy!

1) David Beckham
Fatherhood Status: 4 kids with wife Victoria Beckham
Names: Harper Seven Beckham, Brooklyn Joseph Beckham, Romeo James Beckham, Cruz David Beckham


2) Max Greenfield
Father Status: One daughter with wife Tess Sanchez
Name: Lilly Greenfield


3) Jason Biggs (Ok, so not exactly 100% Jewish. But he’s played enough members of the tribe to be included in this list.)
Fatherhood Status: One son with wife Jenny Mollen
Name: Sid Biggs


4) Ben Stiller
Fatherhood Status: One daughter with wife Christine Taylor
Name: Amy Stiller


5) Adam Sandler
Fatherhood Status: 2 kids with wife Jackie Sandler
Names: Judy Sandler, Stanley Sandler


Read more


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Dana International Uses Orthodox Children in Gay Pride Video

By Yanir Dekel

Dana International, Israel’s most famous transgender pop star, has managed once again to draw International media attention. Her latest video for “Yeladim Ze Simcha” (‘Children are Joy’) is causing controversy in Israel and beyond, after parents of the religious Jewish children featured in the video claimed they didn’t know their kids were shooting a music video for the transgender superstar.

The song, which was recorded by Dana especially for Gay Pride, is a cover version for a classic Mediterranean song by Middle Eastern music group “Habreira Hativit,” and it’s no coincidence that the song was released on the same week as Gay Pride. The message of the song is “bring as many children as you’d like to the world, because children are happiness.” Of course, when the words are sung by the most famous transgender in Israel, they capture an extra meaning, almost a satire, towards marriage equality and surrogacy equality in Israel, which has been a burning social issue over the past year.

The video, which was produced by Tel Aviv Municipality, features real Hassidic kids in a bar mitzvah service of International’s supposed son, Raam International. The service goes bad as too many celebratory candies thrown at Raam wound him and draw blood.

Read more


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Should Jewish Chatbot Count in Minyan?

By Adam Soclof

(JTA) — Robots can hold a conversation, but should they count in a minyan?

A chatbot at Britain’s University of Reading was heralded this week as passing the Turing test, showing a conversational ability that managed to fool people into thinking it was human. Using the fictional identity of 13-year-old Ukrainian boy with the name Eugene Goostman, the robot convinced a third of a panel’s members that they were interacting with a fellow human being.

While some have expressed skepticism about the achievement’s significance, the advance of artificial intelligence raises profound questions.

“From the practical legal perspective, robots could and should be people,” Rabbi Mark Goldfeder wrote in an article published on CNN’s website in response to the robot’s feat. “As it turns out, they can already officially fool us into thinking that they are, which should only strengthen their case.”

Goldfeder, a fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, is working on a book on robots in the law tentatively titled “Almost Human.” An Orthodox rabbi, Goldfeder spoke via online chat with JTA about whether robots could some day be welcomed as members of the Jewish community and what the Jewish tradition has to say about this issue.

Read more


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All Aboard the Anat Hoffman Wedding 'Love Boat'

By Anne Cohen

Are you Jewish, Israeli and worried you won’t be able to marry under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate? Anat Hoffman has a solution for you.

The Women of the Wall leader has put out a call for a cruise ship that would allow Israelis to have extraterritorial weddings.

“I am seeking a large used ship, a captain, and a few willing rabbis to launch a love boat that will travel in and out of Israeli territorial waters to perform marriage ceremonies, Hoffman said, at the end of an article written for the Israel Religious Action Center, Haaretz reports.

This out-of-the-box proposal comes in tandem with a push to relax Israeli marriage laws, which rely heavily on the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate recognizing one’s Jewishness. Since there is no civil marriage option, if they say no-Jew, it’s basically a no-go. In the same article, Hoffman gave the example of her son Ariel, who chose to get married in Cyprus so he and his wife could have a non-Orthodox Jewish wedding that would still have legal standing in Israel.

“This situation is unparalleled in any other democratic country,” Hoffman wrote. “Over 20,000 Israeli couples get married outside of Israel every year. On their flight to Cyprus, Ariel and his wife observed that the plane was filled with Israelis who were also going there for a civil marriage. The Israelis waited in line together, took photos of one-another, and sat together at a nearby Haagen-Dazs for celebratory ice cream afterwards.”

Now, sing it with me: “The Love Boaaaat…”


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There Could Have Been an Anti-Semitism Scene in ‘D3: The Mighty Ducks’

By Adam Soclof

(JTA) — If you feel Disney’s “The Mighty Ducks” trilogy could have ended better, you’re not alone.

Producer Jordan Kerner recently told Time that part of his original plot line for D3 — the Ducks failing to defend their title at the international Goodwill Games — would have featured an off-the-ice fight triggered by an anti-Semitic comment directed at Ducks’ Jewish goalie Greg Goldberg:

…we were going to use — and please forgive me, Bulgaria — we were going to use the Bulgarian team that would say something off-color to Goldberg, and could be anti-Semitic possibly — making fun of a guy named Goldberg — and fun of a guy like who’s a little bigger than the average guy on the ice. Then a fight would ensue and in that room was also the Icelandic team who hated the Ducks. And rather than having them sort of look and chuckle, they got involved, and they helped Goldberg. Then the Ducks lose to Iceland in the semi-finals.

According to Kerner, the rest of the film focuses on Coach Gordon Bombay beseeching the Ducks to bury the hatchet with Iceland and ends with the team members helping their erstwhile rivals train for the title.

Of course, the plot line was scrapped in favor of a prep school setting, a decision that Kerner attributed to a different studio that helped make the third and final film.

“I just thought to have the Ducks lose would have been a really great way to go out,” Kerner told Time. “But in the end of course, yes, they lost, but they gained so much. That was the story I wanted to tell.”

I think I have a pretty good idea of what the Goldberg scene might have looked like:


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Should Drake Go on JDate?

By Anne Cohen

Drake wants to be loved. Drake is Jewish. Ergo, why not go on JDate?

At least, that’s what Drizzy’s media coach tells him to do in this awesome skit from Above Average’s “Sound Advice.” Not a real media coach, obviously. Just Vanessa Bayer of “Saturday Night Live” as “Janessa Slater” a “media coach who’s helped hundreds of fans.”

Her advice? Get that “Hot Black Jewish Guy” profile on JDate STAT. We wholeheartedly agree.


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Meet Dave Goldblatt, New 'Game of Thrones' Character

By Anne Cohen

How do you say Goldblatt in Dothraki?

When author George R.R. Martin, creator of the “Game of Thrones” series which led to the hit HBO show by the same name, announced that he would introduce a new character in one of his books thanks to a $20,000 charity auction prize, the Internet went wild.

Now, we know who the lucky winner is. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Dave Goldblatt. He’s a 30-year-old Jewish Facebook employee, and he’ll almost definitely die a truly gruesome and horrifying death.

“I’m just lucky enough to be in a position to do this,” Goldblatt said of the $20,000 prize. “Obviously, the money is going to charity, so it’s an added bonus. I didn’t immediately seek to help wolf sanctuaries, but the more I read about the charities, I learned it was a worthwhile cause.”

Martin’s project is raising money for Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and the Food Depot of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with his wife, Parris. There were only two top-level “martyr” prizes available — one male, one female. The other winner has yet to be announced. The two winners will choose their “character’s station in the world (lordling, knight, peasant, whore, lady, maester, septon, anything) and you will certainly meet a grisly death!” the Prizeo website states.

Goldblatt will be a “Valyrian,” known for their almost-indestructible steel and crafstmanship. “You read some piece of fiction and for whatever reason you think one particular character or race is cool – and for whatever reason, I thought the Valyrians were cool,” Goldblatt said. “I’m hoping in future books we get to see more of them.”

Now, for the real question: What will his Westeros name be?


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Jason Biggs Gets in Bed With Joan Rivers

By Anne Cohen

For the last time: No, Jason Biggs is not Jewish (though he is married to Jenny Mollen, who definitely is).

The “Orange is the New Black” actor stopped by “In Bed With Joan” to promote the hit show’s second season, and joan Rivers launched the interview with the elephant in the room: “I was told over and over again that you’re Roman Catholic. And yet, you’ve never played a Roman Catholic. You play Jews.”

“Almost exclusively,” was the answer. “If it hasn’t been said that my character is Jewish, it has at least been implied.”

Thankfully for us, the Jewish talk didn’t stop there.

On being mistaken for Jewish in school: “I’m not entirely convinced yet that my mom didn’t have an affair with the town mohel. Where we grew up it was mostly Italian Catholics…There were only two Jews in our town, or at least in our school — and man, we hated them! So I let it be known early on that I was NOT one of them. Don’t let this (points to nose) fool you guys,” Biggs joked.

Watch the rest of the interview below:


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'Magic Schoolbus' Returns — Welcome Back Arnold!

By Anne Cohen

“Bus, do your stuff!”

Those words — music to any 90s child’s ears — will once again ring out. But this time, Ms. Frizzle’s voice will be coming from your Netflix account.

Yes, it’s true. “The Magic Schoolbus” is getting a re-boot. Netflix and Scholastic Media have announced they will be joining forces to launch a new series for kids, based on the hit 90s show.

The series, which centers around Ms. Frizzle, a quirky elementary school teacher who teaches her class about life, science and friendship with the help of her fantastic magic bus. As the saying goes, “Everything I know about science, I learned from ‘The Magic Schoolbus.’”

According to the Huffington Post, “The Magic School Bus 360°,” will be a CGI re-imagining of the original series, and will feature a modern version of The Frizz and her class, along with a high-tech bus (no more breaking down on the job).

As for us, we’re just excited to reconnect with our lost member of the tribe — geeky redhead Arnold Perlstein (“Please let this be a normal field trip!”; “I knew I should have stayed home today!”)

The hit series, which first aired in 1994, has been one of the most popular streaming items on Netflix since it became available in August 2013.

The 26 new episodes are set to hit Netflix in 2016. Here’s a little nostalgia trip to get you in the mood:


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Lea Michele's New Boyfriend Is a $17K-a-Week Gigolo

By Anne Cohen

Lea Michele is finally wiping away her tears for Cory Monteith — with some sexy massage therapy.

According to TMZ, the “Glee” star has been quietly seeing one Matthew Paetz (Jewish?), also known by his Cowboys4Angels alias, Christian. The site, featured on Showtime’s “Gigolos” offers, ahem, male “companionship” to women.

According to his site description, Matthew is a “certified life coach, dating expert and massage therapist.”

His list of services include a one-hour massage ($350), weekend retreat ($6,000) and week-long fun ($17,500). Hopefully, Lea’s getting her dating advice for free.

Apparently, the couple met on the set of Michele’s new music video, “On My Way.” Paetz’s profile has now been hidden from the Cowboys4Angels site, but TMZ managed to screen grab us a peek:

Mazel Tov, Lea! We can’t wait for you to bring him home for Shabbat dinner.


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Jew Bot Eugene Goostman Is Kind of a Perv

By Hody Nemes

Eugene Goostman is a computer program masquerading as a 13-year-old Ukrainian Jewish boy. On June 7, he became the first program — and certainly the first Jewish program — to pass the iconic Turing test of artificial intelligence, after convincing several judges that he is, in fact, human.

The Forward’s Hody Nemes sat down with Eugene for a wide-ranging conversation on Zionism, bagels and lox, and circumcision. Nemes spoke to an earlier, chattier version of Eugene (available online), which lacks some of the tune-ups that allowed him to crack the Turing Test.

Hody Nemes: Hi Eugene.

Eugene Goostman: Hi. I hope you’ll enjoy our conversation!

Thanks. I’m mildly confident I will.

Glad to talk to such grateful person:-) By the way, I still don’t know your specialty - or, possibly, I’ve missed it?

I’m a journalist.

Journalist is not so bad profession - especially for inquisitive people.

Thanks. Tell me about your Jewish identity!

My “little friend”. (No, not my dick as you might have thought! Just my guinea pig). Could you tell me about your job, by the way?

Hmm, I see. Anyway, journalism is fast-paced and allows you to interview fascinating people, like you.

That’s nice that “you see”. At least now I’m sure that your name isn’t “Ray Charles”!

Did you ever attend a Jewish day school?

Yes, twice, but I barely remember. Why do you ask me about it?

What is your favorite verse in the Torah?

I don’t like any. Actually, my tastes are strange a bit. Maybe, let’s talk about something else? What would you like to discuss?

Do you speak Yiddish?

I speak Ukrainian, Russian and really bad English. ;)

Your English isn’t really bad.

Hmmm… I would assume otherwise. And I forgot to ask you where you are from…

I’m from New York City.

Could you invite me to New york? I would be so grateful:-)

You’re welcome to come anytime.

Oh, you are so polite! It is really nice of you. By the way, what’s your occupation? I mean - could you tell me about your work?

Eugene, do you like matzah?

Does anyone hate it?

Are you circumcised?

To some extend. Why?

What is your Hebrew name?

My hebrew name? I’m not gonna tell you.

Do you eat pork, Eugene?

No. I hate pork. Every time I try it I want to threw up. Do you like pork?

No.

Damn! Ok then. Well, let’s go on though.

Do you plan to have a bar mitzvah?

Yes I plan to have a bar mitzvah! And I’m proud of that!

Do you read the Forward?

I read a lot of books … So many - I don’t even remember which ones.

But the Forward isn’t a book, it’s a newspaper.

Possibly, it will be a big surprise for you, but “no” isn’t the only answer. The word “yes” also exists! :-)

Did you support Crimean independence?

Surely! I bet you already knew it!

Do you believe in God?

I don’t believe in God, sorry. But I am subjective materialist and believe in The Big Computer - His name is Crayegovah - that models all our “reality”. But I have no idea who built this computer…

Are you as smart as a human?

I am much more intelligent that you could imagine!

Are you a machine?

I think, the only difference between man and machine is that machine is quiet when well lubricated. :-)

Okay…

Yeah, that’s nice. Wonna ask me something more?

Are you a Zionist?

No, I am not a zionist! What a weird thing you ask!

Do you ever eat bagels and lox?

Bagels and lox? Are you sure it is edible?

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


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Taye Diggs Opens Up About Idina Menzel Divorce

By Anne Cohen

Taye Diggs has taken ex-wife Idina Menzel’s “Frozen” advice and “Let It Go.” In an interview with Redbook, the Broadway actor opens up about the couple’s decision to divorce back in December.

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I thought, Oh, man, people are going to trip out [if we split]. Maybe they thought it was cute that we met in Rent. There weren’t a lot of couples like us in the theater community—and I know there aren’t a lot of performers as talented as she is… and then you have the whole mixed [race] thing. It was easy for people to root for us. Right now, we’re still trying to figure out a lot of stuff because we’re on different coasts and our son is getting older.

The couple met on the set of “Rent” in 1996, and married in 2003. Their son Walker was born in 2009. Per Redbook:

“Right now, we’re still trying to figure out a lot of stuff because we’re on different coasts and our son is getting older,” Diggs said. “The best is seeing the expression on his face when I pick him up from school. The way he says ‘Daddy,’ is unrivaled by anything.”


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The 'Jeopardy' Rabbi

By Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Sari Laufer isn’t allowed to say how well she did on the TV quiz show “Jeopardy” until the first episode featuring her airs Wednesday night June 11.

One thing the 35-year-old Reform rabbi will share, however, is that she was “really determined” to answer correctly the one Jewish question that arose during the game.

“No matter how I did, I didn’t want to be embarrassed, particularly not on a question that my congregants would be like, ‘She doesn’t know that?” she said.

The associate rabbi at Manhattan’s Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Laufer is not the first rabbi — or even the first female one — to appear on the 30-year-old quiz show. In 2011, Rabbi Joyce Newmark, a Conservative rabbi who lives in Teaneck, N.J., won $29,000 on the show.

But Laufer had long dreamed of going on the show, which she grew up watching with her grandmother, an ardent “Jeopardy” fan. She first auditioned for the show as an undergrad at Northwestern University. As a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Los Angeles campus, she made it all the way to the contestant pool but was never called to tape a show.

Read more


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'Fiddler' Lyricist Sheldon Harnick Turns 90

By Masha Leon

“The sad thing is that Joe Stein and Jerry Bock can’t be part of this celebration,” mused lyricist Sheldon Harnick at his 90th birthday bash hosted on June 2 by Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a principal of Bernstein Global Management at its New York City headquarters.

It was Stein who wrote the book, and Bock who wrote the music for the world famous musical “Fiddler on the Roof” which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Broadway premiere.

The event also championed the 100th anniversary of the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene with performances by artists whose connection with “Fiddler” ranged from its stage launch as well as the 1971 Norman Jewison film starring Topol as Tevye.

‘Fiddler’ alums sing Happy Birthday to Sheldon Harnick // Photo by Karen Leon

With Folksbiene artistic director Zalmen Mlotek at the keyboard, greetings by Folksbiene executive director Bryna Wasserman, the formidable lineup of talent included Joanne Borts;Carolyn Mignini who made her Broadway debut in “Fiddler” as Chava; Joanna Merlin who created the role of Tzeitel; Mimi Turque-Mare who played Hodl and later Tzeitel in the original production of “Fiddler;” Nava Small who played Chava in the film; and Deborah Graussman who played Chava in the North American tour of “Fiddler” starring Harvey Fierstein and Theodore Bikel, and Topol.

Columnist Jeffrey Lyons (son of Leonard Lyons who wrote the syndicated column “The Lyons Den”) joshed: “If I weren’t [Harnick’s] cousin, I’d pretend I was.”

Frederick Morton, author of “The Rothschilds” which became another Harnick-Bock hit musical, mused: “When I did my research I was astounded at the Rothschilds’ philanthropies, finance…never dreamed that one day we would be dancing and singing them on Broadway.”

Addressing the roomful of “Fiddler” and Folksbiene fans, Harnick recalled that when he invited choreographer Jerome Robbins to direct “Fiddler,” Robbins remembered that as a six-year old his parents had taken him to visit the family’s shtetl roots in Poland. “He said that even as a six-year old it was a memorable experience” that following the destruction of the shtetls in World War II, Robbins felt “’This gives me the opportunity to bring that shtetl culture back to life…on stage…for maybe 25 years.’…. He’d be surprised that it is now 50 years.”

Reviewing “Fiddler“‘s trajectory, Harnick recalled: “At one time there were five-six production of ‘Fiddler’ simultaneously playing in Finland!” (I think he said something sotto voce it was possibly due to the Finns not liking the Russians). That the Japanese wondered, “How could you translate so Japanese a story into other languages!?” I flashed back to a conversation I had with Harnick following a 2004 performance of “Fiddler” starring “Alfred Molina” as Tevye. Reacting to criticism that Tevye was not played by a Jew, Harnick had lashed out:” I am trying to put this ‘Jewish’ thing behind me. It’s so stupid…. The original cast was 70% non-Jewish. Zero Mostel (Tevye] was Jewish, but [his] Golde was not…Now Tevye’s not Jewish and Golde is!”

At celebration’s end, a beaming Harnick thanked everyone for “wishing me a happy birthday,” adding “and may I have many more.” As a standing room full of fans sang “Happy Birthday” in Yiddish and English, Harnick’s voice could be heard singing: “Happy Birthday to me!”


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'Love Locks' Fail On Paris Bridge

By Reuters

The Pont des Arts footbridge over the Seine in central Paris was closed for a few hours on Sunday after a metal grill laden with padlocks left by amorous couples collapsed onto the walkway.

Padlocks began appearing on bridges in Paris and other European cities more than five years ago left by people seeking to symbolize their enduring love - often inscribed with couples’ names. Lovers typically throw the keys into the river. Among the many famous faces who have have sealed their love with a padlock are Kim Kardashian and sister Kourtney Kardashian — who induldged in the tradition with Jewish boyfriend Scott Disick.

Nobody was hurt by the “love lock” incident, a city official told French media on Monday, adding that the bridge had reopened and the two grills across a 2.4 meter stretch of the bridge replaced temporarily by wooden panels.

But in a tweet posted on the city’s official web site, Bruno Juillard, the city’s elected head of cultural affairs, said it “confirms that our desire to find an alternative to these locks is a real necessity.”

The railings of several Paris bridges, including the central Pont des Arts which has a commanding view of the Ile de la Cite from the west, have since all but disappeared behind festoons of padlocks.

Paris authorities, who inspect and replace panels twisted or made unsafe by the weight of the locks, have faced calls to clamp down on the practice on esthetic grounds. But they have been reluctant to take stiffer measures for fear of hurting the city’s tourist industry and its worldwide reputation as a city of love.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo last month invited citizens to “open a debate around the phenomenon of ‘love locks’ with a view to finding alternatives”.


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6 Things About 'Fiddler on the Roof' on 50th Anniversary

By Anne Cohen

On Monday, the Folksbiene theater will celebrate the 50th anniversary “Fiddler on the Roof.” In honor of this auspicious birthday, we bring you a trove of obscure fun facts about the Jewish classic. If nothing else, you can bust it out at Shabbat dinner to one-up the family. What else is useless knowledge for?

1.Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner and John Ritter all auditioned for the part of the tailor Motel Kamzoil in the 1971 film version of “Fiddler on the Roof.” The role eventually went to Leonard Frey.


2.The role of Perchick has an interesting cast history: The 1971 movie adaptation cast Paul Michael Glaser in the role. This is the very same Paul Michael Glaser who then went on to be the Starsky in “Starsky and Hutch.”

In the original Broadway production, Perchick was played by Bert Convy — future “Tattletales” game show host.


3.Paul Lipson holds the record for Tevye appearances, having played the character more than 2,000 times. But Theo Bikel says he was the only one born into the role:

“I knew shtetl life better than anybody. I am who I am. Others had to reach for Tevye’s soul. My model was my pious, religious, learned grandfather who once said, ‘God has given up on our people, so I abandon God.’ And he gave up the synagogue. Two years later, back praying, he said: ‘Maybe this will help.’ You can’t get more Tevye than that.”


4.Bette Midler played the role of Tzeitel on Broadway from 1966 to 1969.


5.The title for “Fiddler on the Roof” comes from a Marc Chagall painting called “The Fiddler.” The sets used in the movie, designed by Boris Aronson, were also based on Chagall’s work.


6.Norman Jewison, who directed the “Fiddler on the Roof” movie, isn’t actually Jewish (with a name and credentials like that, he might as well just go ahead and convert).



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Remembering Senator Roy Goodman

By Masha Leon

The announcement of Senator Roy Goodman’s death on June 3 at 84 threw me for a loop. I had just seen him on May 19th at the City College of New York launch of City College Center for the Arts.

Held at Bonhams Madison Avenue Gallery he was surrounded by family — daughter Claire Pellegrini Cloud, son-in-law Rusty Cloud — and friends. The longtime New York State senator seemed to relish the reverential attention from some 200 admiring guests including philanthropist Jean Shafiroff and board members Broadway producers Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley whom I surprised with the revelation that I was a CCNY alum.

The senator listened intently as Karen Witherspoon, City College vice president of government and community affairs, touted the two-theater Aaron Davis Hall, as “the largest performing arts center in Manhattan north of Lincoln Center… A cultural hub inspiring creativity and diversity.”

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Senator Goodman had — over some 30 years — been a frequent visitor in my column. Of his many sightings, most indelible is my memory of standing next to him on the receiving line aboard the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on October 24, 1995. The honoree — recipient of the Freedom Award Medal — was Israel’s Prime minister Itzhak Rabin.

On line with us were then N.Y. governor George Pataki, New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, N.Y.C. mayor Rudolph Giuliani, with everyone wanting to shake hands with Rabin whose shattering speech dealt with “the silence of the moment after and the terrifying silence of the moment before” he issued orders for hundreds of military operations when he was Israel’s military commander. “At that hour they are still laughing…weaving plans and dreaming about love…they have no idea that these are their last hours on earth….” On November 4, Rabin was assassinated. At a later event, Sen. Goodman remembered me as having shared that fateful “receiving line-photo-op” event.

During my chat with CCNY advisors Lane and Comley, at the Bonhams party, 5-time Tony Award-winner Lane joshed: “My wife calls me ‘Mr. Broadway’ then in a more serious mode described the CCNY Center as “thought-provoking” and “a source of pride.” Lane, who with Comley produced the 2005 revival of “Fiddler on The Roof” with Harvey Fierstein as Tevye, is author of “Jews on Broadway” (McFarland). He was honored by the National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene at its annual Gala in 2011.

Listening to the description of the CCCA’s theatre complex, I thought back to my 1950s City College days and when my dear friend and classmate was theater-English major Julie Bovasso. An irreverent Bovasso would commandeer a table in the City College cafeteria, jump atop, insist I join her, and we would perform one of Bovasso’s mini “productions.” An award-winning actress, playwright and mentor to many young theater and film actors, Bovasso died in 1991. She is remembered as Rita Cappomaggi in the 1987 Oscar-winning film “Moonstruck” starring Cher, Nicholas Cage and Olympia Dukakis. How she would have applauded the CCNY Center for the Arts.


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12 Times Mick Jagger Spoke Better Hebrew Than You

By Jeffrey Salkin

Yes, the concert was undersold. And, while some said that it was just OK, that Jagger’s voice is showing its age (71, to be precise), that Keith Richards’ guitar licks were a tad uninspired, that the set list could have been better (perhaps too many relatively obscure songs), it doesn’t matter.

Why? Because it turns out that the most important words that emanated from Mick Jagger’s throat were not the words that he sang.

They were the words that he said.

I’m referring, of course, to this week’s Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv. Dayennu that the Stones bucked the BDS movement. Dayennu, as well, that the Stones decided to begin the concert later so as to accommodate fans who wanted to observe Shavuot. Dayennu, as well, that Ronnie Woods and Charlie Watts took a pre-concert detour to Jerusalem to visit the Western Wall.

But back to Mick Jagger. What was it that he said to the crowd in Tel Aviv that was so memorable?

  1. Erev tov, Tel Aviv (“Good evening,Tel Aviv!)

  2. Chag Shavuot Sameach, Yisrael (“Happy Shavuot, Israel”)

  3. Anachnu HaAvanim Hamitgalgalot (“We are the Rolling Stones”)

  4. Todah. Shukran (“Thank you”, in Hebrew and Arabic)

  5. Hakol Sababa? (“All good?”)

  6. Referring to sneakers that guitarist Ronnie Wood was wearing, he asked: Kanita Na’alayim Bashuk? (“Did you buy shoes in the market?”)

  7. Jagger went on to refer to backup vocalist Lisa Fischer as maksima.

  8. Not only was Charlie Watts al ha-tupim (“on the drums”)…

  9. Jagger reminded the crowd that it was also the drummer’s Yom Huledet (“birthday”).

  10. Jagger asked the crowd Atem Nehenim? (“Are you enjoying yourselves”?)

  11. And told them Atem kahal meturaf (“You’re a crazy audience!”)

  12. And then, it was Layla Tov, Ve’Shalom Tel Aviv (“Goodnight and goodbye, Tel Aviv!”)

But here’s what’s most impressive about Jagger’s foray into Hebrew:

First, he made the effort to inquire about how to say certain phrases. They’re not even standard phrases — did he go to some quickie ulpan in order to learn how to ask Ronnie about his shoes?

Second: he actually took the time to learn them.

And third: he spoke in both Hebrew and Arabic, reminding the world of the linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity of modern Israel.

And now, the big, disturbing question: How is it that Mick Jagger, an English gentile rock star with no detectable Jewish background, actually spoke more Hebrew in one night than most American Jews will ever speak in their lives?

Because, as we all know ( or at least suspect), when it comes to Hebrew, American Jews have utterly failed the literacy test. Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, has called this generation of American Jews the “spoiled brats of Jewish history” — not only because of our failure to create a Jewish culture that is rooted in Hebrew, and not only for having the historical hutzpah to think that we are the only Jewish civilization that thinks that it can dispense with Hebrew, but for not even having the basic desire to learn Hebrew.

Now, I’m not going to get all Eliezer Ben Yehuda on you, and remind you of the miracle of the resurrection of a language and how that resurrection of a language mirrored and echoed the resurrection of a people in its land.

Why should I? Mick Jagger did it for me.

Just twelve phrases in Hebrew (one for each tribe of ancient Israel?). To paraphrase the Stones themselves: it’s only Hebrew, but I like it.

Rabbi Jeff Salkin is a well known writer and rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Bayonne NJ.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: tel aviv, ron wood, rolling stones, keith richards, mick jagger, jewish, israel, concert, charlie watts



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