While the critics savaged and the rest of the world yawned, Jews in Cherry Hill, New Jersey eagerly tuned in to ABC to watch “Have a Little Faith,” by Mitch Albom, best-selling author of “Tuesdays With Morrie.” The Jewish community there is hopeful that now, when an outsider asks about “that Rabbi,” they’ll be able to answer with pride, referring to Congregation Beth Sholom’s Rabbi Albert Lewis, the subject of Albom’s sappy book-turned-TV movie. Up until now, that question might instead have brought to mind the scandal-ridden former Rabbi Fred Neulander. The founding rabbi of Reform temple M’kor Shalom is currently serving 30 years in prison for hiring two hit men, including a former congregant, to murder his wife. (Disclaimer: my mother taught Hebrew school under Neulander).
Just when South Jersey Yiddishkeit was recovering from the Neulander scandal, another local rabbi resigned his position due to the existence of a second family. For those who’ve been shaken in the faith department by these “Rabbis Gone Wild” episodes, Albom’s book and movie about Lewis have provided much needed spiritual elevation. In a book that could be subtitled “Thursdays with Rabbi Lewis, Sundays with Reverend Covington,” Albom recounts his relationship with two different men of the cloth: a rabbi from South Jersey, and a Christian minister from a poor section of Detroit.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles concluded its 2011 centennial celebration with an event headlined “Imagining Our Future,” drawing more than 600 people to the Sheraton Universal Hotel for a “day of Jewish learning and culture” and a promise of a glimpse of the next hundred years of Jewish life in L.A. But if the past is prologue, and the attendees’ kvetching over the lack of bagels and pastries with the morning coffee is current history, then a future of Hebraic disgruntlement comfortably like the present seemed assured.
A similarly cranky note was struck by filmmaker and novelist Michael Tolkin during the day’s first session, “The future of Jews in Hollwyood.” Asked if he believed Jews controlled Hollywood, he replied: “Not my Jews,” on behalf of downtrodden Writers Guild members everywhere. And while session participants, including a television producer and an agent, seemed upbeat about the ability of Jews in entertainment to maintain their Jewish identities within the business as never before, none tackled the more serious question of the underlying malaise currently afflicting the film, television and music industries for reasons that extend beyond ethnicity (unless you count digital downloading a tribal activity).
A surprising fact about the Irish: they love menorahs, apparently.
So says IrishCentral, which reports that “you can count them by the hundred” each December between Dublin and Galway. It’s unlikely the candelabras belong to actual Jews — just 2,000 of the country’s 4.4 million citizens are Jewish, the piece says.
For some of us, it is difficult to discuss, even with those closest to us, our own mortality. But Larry King isn’t afraid to talk about death — and about what he wants to happen to his body after he’s gone.
Sunday night, King and his wife, Shawn, were seen on “CNN Presents: A Larry King Special: Dinner with the Kings” hosting Conan O’Brien, Tyra Banks, Shaquille O’Neal, Seth MacFarlane, Jack Dorsey, Quincy Jones and Russell Brand for a Wofgang Puck-catered dinner and a no-holds-barred conversation on a variety of subjects. On the menu for genial banter were topics like friendship, insecurities, success, and personal worries. Among those personal worries, death inevitably came up.
Claire Danes surprised TV talk show host Conan O’Brien by telling him what Tel Aviv nightlife watchers already know — that it’s “a party town.”
She told O’Brien that she learned this when she went to Israel to shoot the pilot for her psychological thriller Showtime series, “Homeland”, which is based on the Israeli series “Hatufim.” “The big reveal, the big surprise, for me was that Tel Aviv was the most intense party town I have ever been to,” she said.
The Shmooze can’t imagine why the producers of “The Amazing Race” wouldn’t choose Lindsay Litowitz and Stephanie Spiegel to be among the show’s next contenders. How could they possibly resist these two attractive, vibrant young Jewish women from South Florida (Litowitz now lives in New York, Spiegel is in Miami), who have submitted this adorable video application?
How could the producers not be impressed by the women’s physical fitness and strength, strong bonds of friendship and curiosity about the world? What a combo Litowitz’s self-professed strong organizational and motivational skills and Spiegel’s nature-loving personality and navigational abilities would make!
But the Shmooze favors this duo most for being proud Jewesses. Litowitz says she speaks Hebrew — and a little Arabic, to boot. There’s even a shot in the video of their feet clad in flip-flops decorated with a miniature Israeli flag decal.
It took more than a decade, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers have finally found a “more suitable time” to perform in Israel.
The band, which received a Grammy nomination yesterday for best rock album, will play in Tel Aviv next September in support of its latest release, “I’m With You.” The show will take place more than 11 years after the band’s original date for the concert, which it called off because of security concerns in August 2001, during one of the worst periods of the second intifada.
High-tech geniuses, remarkable thinkers, and Nobel Prize winning scientists — Israel has them all. But seemingly none of them need as much brainpower as one who can put the brakes on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So says Foreign Policy magazine.
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan ranks number 63 in the list of its “top global thinkers.” Why? “For being the last man in Israel to stand up to Benjamin Netanyahu.” He recently roundly criticized rumored plans for Israel to strike Iran. The magazine wrote that “when Dagan refers to an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s nuclear installations as ‘the stupidest thing I have ever heard,’ we should pay attention.’” The “stupidest thing” quote was brought to light here.
In some Jew-on-Jew legal action, a male employee who was fired has sued his former employer, the Jewish women’s organization Na’amat, on grounds of religious discrimination.
According to Marshall Garvin, Susan Schwartz, his supervisor at Na’amat, harassed him for leaving work to say kaddish for his recently deceased mother. Garvin, an observant Jew from Riverdale, told the New York Daily News that he went to complain about this to Na’amat USA’s president, Elizabeth Raider, last March. Garvin, 65, claims that within an hour of his speaking to Raider, he was terminated.
Fans of singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth will be able to read in the January issue of Prevention magazine what she says about gay adoption (she’s all for it), botox injections (she’s all for those, too — and gets them every six months) and Jewish men’s apparent affections for her.
The 43-year-old blonde, who has performed on Broadway and television as well as in movies, has had her longest and most serious romantic relationships with Jewish men. For instance, she has dated stage actor Marc Kudisch and was in a long-term relationship with writer/producer Aaron Sorkin.
Oops! A six-minute YouTube video showing classified IDF maps and command-and-control systems went viral over several months before authorities caught on and removed it. But it was too late to undo possible damage that might have been done, as many viewers had already downloaded the video to their personal hard drives.
Ynet has posted the video after having blurred out all the sensitive material, like maps, communications equipment and information posted on bulletin boards. To the Shmooze’s eye, it does not appear that the video was meant as a deliberate security breech. Rather, it seems that a bunch of bored teenagers — who happen to be IDF soldiers — simply made a music video to amuse themselves.
Carrie Fisher and William Shatner have taken their gloves off, duking it out in YouTube videos over which is better: Star Wars or Star Trek.
They poke as much fun at each other’s having aged over the years as they do at the relative merits of their respective legendary productions. Fisher, looking svelt but wearing a way-too-low-cut top, challenges the perennially young-looking Shatner to a “costume-off.” She makes fun of Shatner’s clingy Captain Kirk costume while complimenting her own Princess Leia metal bikini. Shatner’s sharp retort is that at least his costume “has stretch” so that it would still fit his now larger physique. “I don’t know if we are ready to see you in that bikini,” he tells Fisher. “While my costume just needs some push and pull, your bikini would need some real…uplift.”
Visual artist and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Julian Schnabel has donated one of his limited edition “Blind Girl Surf Club” surfboards to a charity auction in California for Surfers Healing: A Foundation For Autism.
The black surfboard, which has a picture of a girl with a purple mark over her eyes on one side and “Blind Girl Surf Club” written on the other, is listed with an opening bid of $20,000 on the Surfers Healing fourth annual Holiday Surfboard Auction website. The fundraiser is sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton and Laguna Niguel’s Community Footprints program.
Operation of the Jerusalem Light Rail has not gone smoothly since it finally got up and running late this summer. Earlier this month, some drivers held a strike, and others quit their jobs over pay issues. An elderly man was badly injured when struck by a train car. Windows have been broken by stones thrown at trains as they went through East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
What next? Dozens of Arab and Jewish girls were involved in a big brawl on Jerusalem’s Light Rail on Monday. Ynet reports that the use of tear gas by one of the Jewish girls involved prompted the evacuation of the train.
Barbra Streisand is set to headline a star-studded gala for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces in Los Angeles on December 8. Organizers of the fundraiser are considering this a coup, given that the singer rarely agrees to sing at such events and has yet to accept invitations to hold a concert in Israel.
The evening, which will take place at L.A.’s Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, is being put together by Egyptian-born Israeli-American entertainment mogul Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl. Saban, one of the IDF’s biggest donors and the gala’s chairman for the past five years, personally asked Streisand to sing.
While Americans were eating turkey and giving thanks last week, local designers in Israel were showing their collections for the for first official Tel Aviv Fashion Week in 30 years. Dressed in his signature suit and sunglasses, designer Roberto Cavalli kicked off the over-the-top festivities with an encore showing of his Milan Spring 2012 collection, which included a heavy dose of bejeweled gowns.
The local obsession with all things fashion remained in overdrive well after his departure. Attendees — from Israeli housewives with the right connections to television celebrities to supermodels like Esti Ginzburg — clapped for their favorite runway looks, as well as associated props including belly dancers, Arab musicians and, in one case, rooster headdresses courtesy of menswear line Maurizio. We don’t think the headdresses will translate to international fashion, but a few notable designers caught our eye:
Anne Hathaway isn’t too cool for shul, man.
In fact, the actress has announced plans to marry longtime boyfriend Adam Shulman, a decision reported via a representative to People magazine.
Hathaway’s engagement follows a three-year relationship with Shulman, an actor whose credits include a recurring role on “The West Wing.” A nice Jewish boy may have been particularly appealing to Hathaway after her previous relationship, which ended in imprisonment for her con man ex-boyfriend.
In another sign that the Holy City is also the holier-than-thou one, Jerusalem’s chief rabbinate is going to begin a kashrut certification program for clothing stores.
According to the Srugim website (the portal for Israeli news from the national religious perspective — not for the popular Israeli television series of the same name), this has nothing to do with people eating while clothes shopping. Rather, it is a way to allow consumers to rest assured that they are not buying items containing shatnez (the biblically forbidden mixture of wool and linen).
Albert Einstein may have died in 1955, but his brain is still around — very small pieces of it, that is. For the first time ever, the public can now view 46 slivers of Einstein’s brain on display in a special exhibition at the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library, which is run by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Although the museum already possesses bits of remains from other famous individuals (a tumor of President Grover Cleveland, neck tissue from John Wilkes Booth), the museum’s curator, Anna Dhody, could not be more excited about this latest acquisition. “It’s Einstein’s brain!” she exclaimed. “It’s one of the greatest minds of the 20th century in our museum. What more can you ask for?”
Talk about the best of all worlds. Soon, here in Israel, we’ll be able to observe tradition and start our Shabbat dinner with liver, while enjoying the taste of pork. Oh, and all with the blessing of the Chief Rabbi.
Confused? Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has revealed that his rabbinate is looking in to importing a special goose liver that tastes like pork. How does he know? He’s had three non-Jewish food experts check it out.