The Shmooze

Too Cute! Baby Giraffe Born in Israel

By Haaretz

Crossposted from Haaretz

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A joyous occasion took place at the Ramat Gan Safari on Monday, as one of the safari’s female giraffe’s gave birth to a healthy baby boy, after a lengthy and complicated labor.

Dikla began birthing the baby giraffe at 1 P.M., when chief safari veterinarian Yigal Horowitz noticed that the process was stalling, prompting safari staff to aid the labor.

The veterinary staff then noticed that the calf’s legs had tangled around its neck, eventually succeeding in removing it safely. Dikla then proceeded to lick her newborn, which was standing on his own within the hour.

In line with custom, safari staff are now turning to the public to suggest names beginning with the letter “d.”

Read more at Haaretz.com


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yigal Horowitz, Giraffe, Ramat Gan Safari

Video: ‘West Side Story’ Flash Mob in Times Square

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Circa 1972: Edgar Finch and Peter Daly rehearse as part of The Jets and The Sharks, two youth gangs in the musical ‘West Side Story’.

If you happened to see some Jets and Sharks dancing in the middle of Times Square last week, rest assured that you were not hallucinating. The flash mob you saw was a group of New York City dancers performing some moves choreographed by Jerome Robbins for “West Side Story.”

The flash mob was organized by DanceOn, a dance video website, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the film version of “West Side Story.” The movie, a 1950’s-era New York City interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was directed by Robbins and Robert Wise, and starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer and Rita Moreno, among other talented actors and dancers. The film was based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical written by Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics).

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: West Side Story, Times Square, Stephen Sondheim, Robert Wise, Rita Moreno, Richard Beymer, Natalie Wood, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents

Pyramid Closed to Foil 'Jewish Plot' in Egypt?

By Nathan Burstein

Wikimedia Commons

Did Egypt close its Great Pyramid last week over fears of a “Jewish” plot?

That’s one of the rumors circulating in Cairo after the country’s antiquities authority cut off access to the Cheops pyramid Friday. Local media had put out “unconfirmed reports” that unnamed groups planned to perform “Jewish” or “Masonic” rites at the pyramid that day.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Masons, Great Pyramid, Egypt, Cheops

Holocaust-Denying Radio Host Gets His Job Back

By Renee Ghert-Zand

A German radio host who allegedly made Holocaust-denying remarks and also made light of 9/11 has been reinstated to his position after having been temporarily suspended.

Ken Jebsen, the host of the “Jugendwelle” program on Radio Fritz, which is based in Potsdam just outside Berlin, had written in an email to a listener that “Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels implemented the public relations plan of the Holocaust, and the Americans provided fuel for the entire Nazi bombing campaign,” according to a report in the Jerusalem Post. In a separate comment, he said that the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York was a “warm demolition.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Simon Wiesenthal Center, Radio Fritz, Ken Jebsen, Jugendwelle, Anti-Semitism

Gay Orthodox Rabbi Does Same-Sex Marriage

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Roee Ruttenberg reported over the weekend in +972 Magazine that “for the first time in history an openly-gay American rabbi ordained by the Orthodox movement has officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony.” He was referring to a Jewish marriage ceremony that Rabbi Steve Greenberg performed for gay couple Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan at the Historic 6th & I Synagogue in Washington, D.C. last Thursday evening.

As Ruttenberg noted, the event was both unique and controversial. Rabbi Greenberg, who came out publicly after having been ordained by an Orthodox rabbinical school, became well known after he appeared in Sandi Simcha DuBowski’s 2001 documentary film, “Trembling Before God,” about Orthodox Jews trying to reconcile their Jewish and gay identities.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Wrestling With God and Men, Trembling Before God, Steve Greenberg, Same-Sex Marriage, Roee Ruttenberg

LeBron James Shoots Hoops at JCC

By Nathan Burstein

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LeBron James does not — we repeat, does not — think Jews “suck” at basketball.

The Shmooze can report this happy piece of news after the NBA star’s latest difficult episode in Cleveland, where his jersey was burned last year following his highly publicized defection from the local Cavaliers to the Miami Heat.

An Akron native, James played basketball last week at his Cleveland’s Mandel Jewish Community Center (of all places!) after a spot opened up on his friends’ basketball team. Initial reports suggested the JCC game went well for the 26-year-old, whose team won by 10 points. “So funny but good run,” James later tweeted.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Trash-Talking, Twitter, LeBron James, Basketball, Cleveland

Student Sues UC Davis Over Jewish Fraternity Hazing

By Renee Ghert-Zand

A former University of California at Davis student has filed a lawsuit against the university. His claims include negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and creating a hostile educational environment — all stemming from the university’s refusal to address his complaints about hazing at a Jewish fraternity on campus.

According to the court papers filed on behalf of Ryan Clifford, he was forced to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol laced with drugs and was subjected to violent and sexual abuse. Clifford says that Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges were required to attend a retreat at Lake Tahoe, where senior members forced them to drink “inordinate amount of alcohol” laced with narcotics. Clifford says he was also forced to undress in front of everyone there and that some of the fraternity members touched his penis and made sexual comments. The lawsuit lists other instances of abuse, including one that resulted in Clifford’s suffering a broken bone requiring two orthopedic surgeries.

In addition, Clifford alleges that he was “specifically targeted for the harshest form of hazing, known as ‘ratfucking,’ because of his non-Jewish religious affiliation.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: University of California at Davis, Lawsuit, Hazing, AEPi, Fraternity

Biden To Speak at Detroit Yeshiva Fundraiser

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Don’t look for Vice President Joe Biden in Washington on Sunday. He’ll be in Detroit, possibly adding to his long and memorable list of gaffes as he speaks at the annual fundraising dinner for an area Orthodox day school.

Biden will also be stumping for Debbie Stabenow, the Democratic junior senator from Michigan, while in town. But it is expected that Jewish voters — Democratic but also possibly others — and supporters of Jewish education will likely turn up at the Detroit Marriott Hotel at the Renaissance Center for the Yeshiva Beth Yehudah dinner. There they will hear the vice president speak on U.S. foreign policy and support for Israel.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, Joe Biden, Detroit, Debbie Stabenow

Concerns Over Waning Interest in Rabin Death Anniversary

By Nathan Jeffay

Wednesday marked the 16th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s death, according to the Hebrew calendar, and people in Israel have been mourning the former prime minister all week. But, as we reported last year, interest in the anniversary is waning, raising concerns among some that the warning against political incitement that is implicit in the story of the Rabin tragedy is being lost. It’s been a remarkable irony, then, that as the mainstream population takes less notice of the anniversary, the small group of far-rightists who really catapulted it to center stage seem to admire Rabin’s assassin. The story that ensured the assassination stayed in the press this year was the spraying of a graffiti message on the home of a Peace Now leader that read, “Rabin is waiting” for her. Thank you bigoted crazies for reminding the nation just how objectionable your message is, and how the story of the Rabin assassination is still so relevant.

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Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Kosher Chicken Liver

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Wikimedia Commons
Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells

As of this week, chopped liver is getting even less respect than it usually does. That’s because it’s been found to be the cause of Salmonella food poisoning in 89 people in New York and several others in New Jersey.

Health officials have traced the kosher liver to the Queens-based Schreiber Processing Corp., which has issued a recall of the product (under its MealMart brand) from various delis, caterers and retirement homes.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Schreiber Processing Corp., Salmonella, Chopped Liver, Food Poisoning, Russ and Daughters, MealMart

Anti-Semitic ‘Jingle Bells’ Song Heard at Oxford

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head again at Oxford University in England. Disillusioned officers of the university’s Conservative Association recently leaked documents to the campus newspaper The Oxford Student, showing evidence of anti-Semitic behavior among its members.

The paper found one video to be particularly offensive. It is of a student leading others in a drunken chant of “Dashing through the Reich / in a black Mercedes Benz / killing lots of kike / ra ta ta ta ta. ” It was evidently recorded toward the end of the Michaelmas term in 2010. That would have been in December, which would explain why — at least to The Shmooze’s ear — these lyrics sound as though they go to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” The song has reportedly been enthusiastically sung by OUCA members in other seasons, as well.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Oxford University, Oxford Student, Margaret Thatcher, Oxford Conservative Association, Anti-Semitism, Jingle Bells, Ted Heath

Spielberg Censored in Lebanon

By Nathan Burstein

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It’s not quite worthy of a Sherlock Holmes story, but the mystery continues: Who censored Steven Spielberg’s name at a movie theater in Lebanon?

In a piece picked up by The Washington Post, the country’s Blog Baladi reported yesterday that the director’s name had been covered up on a poster for his next movie, the kid-friendly “Adventures of Tintin.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Steven S[ielberg, Lebanon, Philanthropy, Jack and Jill, Anti-Semitism, Censoship, Adventures of Tintin, Adam Sandler

Batali Bites the Banker Hand That Feeds Him

By Nathan Burstein

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You don’t have to be a fan of the U.S. banking system to realize that credit default swaps are not the same as gas chambers and the gulag.

Or so you would think. But celebrity chef Mario Batali evidently doesn’t see that distinction, having compared American bankers to both Hitler and Stalin while participating in a panel discussion yesterday about Time magazine’s next Person of the Year.

“The ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys,” the TV chef and restaurateur remarked, in comments that were published on Forbes’ website. Asked after the discussion whether he stood by the statement, Batali told Forbes writer Jeff Bercovici, “Oh, that was just a metaphor.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Time Person of the Year, Stalin, Mario Batali, Jeff Bercovici, Hitler, Economics Forbes

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Calmer?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

It looks like carbon monoxide may have been getting a worse rap than it deserves. The silent killer turns out also to be the silent calmer — and anything that soothes the nerves of frazzled city dwellers is ostensibly a good thing.

Prof. Itzhak Schnell of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geography and the Human Environment has found that low levels of CO gas can have a narcotic effect on those who inhale it, helping them better deal with the pressures of city living. In particular, he found that the CO helped them cope better with high noise levels in urban settings.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Traffic, Tel Aviv University, Stress, Health, Itzhak Schnell, City Living, Carbon Monoxide

Islamic Sex Guide ‘Fights Jews’ With Polygamy

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Despite claims by its distributor that it is selling “like hot fried bananas,” an Islamic sex guide with anti-Semitic overtones has been banned by Malaysian authorities.

The 115-page “Islamic Sex: Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World,” was published in October by the Obedient Wives Club, a pro-polygamy group believed to be an offshoot from the Al-Arqaam sect. Al-Arqaam was banned by the Malaysian government in 1994 for its allegedly deviant teachings. The club, which touts itself as being selective, is believed to have at least 800 members in Malaysia, as well as branches in Indonesia, Singapore and the U.K.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Malaysia, Islamic Sex: Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World, Islam, Anti-Semitism, Obedient Wives Club, Sex Manuals

Hitler Art Sale Called Off

By Nathan Burstein

Wikimedia Commons

To the relief of Sweden’s Jewish community, the sale of art allegedly painted by Adolf Hitler has been temporarily canceled — largely because the paintings may not truly have been the work of the Nazi dictator.

Swedish news site The Local reports that the paintings were to be auctioned off by Swedish debt collectors who were seeking to reclaim funds owed by Thomas Moller, a former head of the local Hells Angels. Moller says the works are worth 4 million kronor (a little more than $60,000), but their authenticity has been called into question, resulting in the canceled sale.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Hells Angels, Sweden, Auctions, Art, Adolf Hitler

Bernstein's First Speech as Obama's Jewish Liaison

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Jarrod Bernstein made his first public speech as President Obama’s liaison to the Jewish community Monday, at the second annual Agudath Israel legislative breakfast, in New York . As might be expected, he did his best to remind the members of the pro-Israel Haredi organization of what the administration is doing both for Israel and for the Jews at home.

Addressing an audience made up of people not generally known to be Obama fans, Bernstein pointed out that the Obama administration has allocated a record number of Pell grants, which benefit rabbinical and yeshiva students. He also highlighted the fact that Obama’s requests to Congress for aid to Israel have been the highest in history ($3 billion this year), and that this funding has been integral to the deployment of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been saving Israeli lives. Bernstein also spoke of Obama’s efforts to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Obama, Agudath Israel, Jarrod Bernstein

Natalie Portman Sheds Baby Weight With Ballet

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

It’s back to the ballet barre for Natalie Portman, star of Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” Portman, who won the Academy Award for best actress for her role in the ballet-themed psychological thriller, has reportedly been dancing as part of her exercise regimen since giving birth to little Aleph in June.

In addition to the ballet, she has also been doing Pilates and some running, according to Yanir Dekel, who blogs about the Hollywood scene for Israeli audiences. Dekel shared with his readers a photo that appeared on gossip sites yesterday, showing Portman out for a run with Aleph’s father, Benjamin Millepied.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Natalie Portman, Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan, Benjamin Millepied, Ballet

New York Mag Spotlights Ashkenazi ‘SuperAgers’

By Nathan Burstein

iStockphoto

This will be news to residents of southern Florida, but it turns out that Ashkenazi Jews, as a group, don’t actually live longer than the rest of the population. Nevertheless, shared genetic traits have made Ashkenazim a compelling subject for scientific study, including in a fascinating project outlined in the newest edition of New York magazine.

In one of the more charming, thought-provoking articles you’re likely to read this week, the magazine’s latest issue examines the Longevity Genes Project at New York City’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where researchers Nir Barzilai and Gil Atzmon have been examining so-called “SuperAgers” — men and women who have made it past age 95 without serious medical problems. The article focuses in particular on members of the Kahn family, two brothers and two sisters who all became centenarians, surely making them one of the oldest sets of siblings in human history.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Longevity, New York Magazine, Nir Barzilai, Gil Atzmon, Ashkenazi Jews, Kahn Siblings, Genetics

Jerusalem Judge to Jews: Don't Spit On Christians

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Wikimedia Commons

Some Christian clergymen in the Old City of Jerusalem have taken matters into their own hands after being spat at by Haredi Jews, and they are finding sympathy among Israeli judges.

Last week the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court threw out an indictment against an Armenian seminarian who punched an ultra-Orthodox man who spit on him. Siding with the spitting victim rather than the punching one, Judge Dov Pollock wrote in his verdict that “putting the defendant on trial for a single blow at a man who spat at his face, after suffering the degradation of being spat on for years while walking around in his church robes is a fundamental contravention of the principles of justice and decency.” The judge also emphasized that the spitting, in the first place, was a criminal offense.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Church, Dov Pollock, Goosan Aljanian, Armenian Orthodox Church, Spitting



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