The Shmooze

Jeff Goldblum To Play Gay Jewish Dad on 'Glee'

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

“Glee” fans have long known about Rachel Berry’s gay Jewish dad, but they’ve never seen him.

That’ll change on Valentine’s Day, when the character will finally make an appearance in the form of Jeff Goldblum, who’s been announced as one of two actors who’ll play Berry’s fathers. Goldblum’s TV spouse will be played by Broadway mainstay Brian Stokes Mitchell, and both will sing during the episode.

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Michael Moore Backs New Film on Resistance

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Oscar winner Michael Moore has signed on to help an Israeli filmmaker produce his next documentary — a project that will focus, in part, on the small minority of Germans who defied the Nazis during World War II.

Moore, who received an Academy Award for the 2002 documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” has agreed to match funds currently being raised by Yoav Shamir, whose previous films two have focused, respectively, on Israel’s military culture and anti-Semitism. Like his new benefactor, he’s no stranger to controversy: His most recent film, “Defamation,” questioned and at times mocked accusations of anti-Semitism emanating from parts of the Jewish world, looking in particular at the Anti-Defamation League.

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Tila Tequila Converts to Judaism

By TMZ Staff

Crossposted from TMZ

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Tila Tequila is converting to Judaism … seriously … and for once, she swears she’s not just after some cheap publicity.

TMZ has learned Tequila has been taking classes at a NY temple to begin the conversion process … and even skipped Christmas this year to focus on change.

We spoke with the former MTV reality star about the situation and she explained, “As time passed, I started to become more and more fascinated with Kabbalah, the culture, and the way of life of the reform Judaism religion.”

Read more at TMZ.com


Kosher Prison Food Not Only for Jews

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStock

Eating kosher, even in prison, is a constitutional right — not only for Jews, but also for Christians.

On January 11, a three-justice panel of the California 3rd District Court of Appeals issued a ruling that overturned a lower court one that had denied Margarito Jesus Garcia kosher meals from the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The court declared that responding negatively to Garcia’s request for kosher food amounted to a violation of Garcia’s rights under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

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Beware of Viagra-Spiked Coffee

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStock

Watch out, Israeli customers: That coffee you bought may be a lot stronger than you think!

Israel’s Health Ministry is warning people that products like “Magic Power Coffee” contain counterfeit Viagra. This powdered instant coffee drink, as well as others, are touted by marketers as natural alternatives to the erectile dysfunction drug. However, lab tests performed by the Health Ministry discovered that they actually contained the same chemical substance that is found in Viagra.

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Date Set for 2nd Jerusalem Marathon

By Michael Kaminer

As Jerusalem continues to shake off its, er, parochial reputation, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism this week announced the second annual Jerusalem International Marathon will run its course on March 16 around some of the Holy City’s most iconic sites.

The race, whose 2011 debut drew more than 10,000 runners from more than 40 countries, will include a full and half marathon, as well as a 10K run, according to a press release. The race “will bring participants through sites within Jerusalem’s historical landscape, including the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, the Knesset, Jerusalem Promenade and various Old City sites such as Sultan’s Pool and the German Colony,” the announcement said.

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Ben Stein Sues for Religious Discrimination

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

The Shmooze had no idea that not believing that climate change is caused by humans constitutes a religion. It’s not at all clear that it really does, but that’s what actor, writer and commentator Ben Stein would have us believe.

In response to Kyocera Corp’s backing out of an agreement to hire him to star in commercials for its printers, Stein is suing the company and its advertising agency, Seiter & Miller, for breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge for political expression…and illegal religious discrimination.

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Mel Gibson Rant Victim Gets Day in Court

By JTA

The sheriff’s deputy who arrested actor Mel Gibson and was the subject of his anti-Semitic rant should be able to take his workplace discrimination case before a jury, a Los Angeles judge ruled.

James Mee, who is Jewish, says he was subject to religions discrimination and a hostile work environment after arresting Gibson in 2006. He wants to take his case before a judge and jury.

Mee claims that his supervisors ordered him to remove Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks from the official incident report, placing them instead in a confidential supplemental report. He claims he was passed over for promotions in the department because he complained about purging the report.

Mee was accused of leaking his original report to the media, but he was investigated and found to be not culpable.

The trial will begin next month. Gibson could potentially be called as a witness.


Gilad Shalit Joins Facebook

By Haaretz

Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier who was released from captivity in October after five and a half years, has recently opened a Facebook page.

Shalit still has a limited amount of friends, some of them his family members. Shalit also humorously joined the group calling for his release – though obviously it is no longer active.

Shalit has chosen for now not to make his account public, and there are no options for adding him as a friend, writing on his wall or sending him messages. His profile picture is a blurry image of him in yellow and blue – the colors of his favorite basketball team Maccabee Tel Aviv. The only link Shalit has posted so far is “watch the craziest dunk of 2011.”

When Shalit was abducted Facebook was still in its early days, and was mainly used by students at Harvard University and other campuses. However, the more popular it became around the world as well as in Israel, it became an important platform in the struggle for his release.

For more, go to Haaretz.com


Lawyer: Czech Expert Biased Because He's Jewish

By Renee Ghert-Zand

A Jewish judicial expert on extremism in the Czech Republic has quit his job after having been accused of being biased because of his Jewish background. According to Radio Prague, Michal Mazel’s resignation followed the filing of an objection by lawyer Petr Kočí on behalf of his client, a member of the extremist Workers’ Party for Social Justice. The lawyer’s 22-year-old female client had been charged with inciting ethnic hatred.

Mazel, whose testimony had helped to ban the right-wing Workers’ Party (the predecessor of the Workers’ Party for Social Justice), said he had simply had enough of the intimidation he has had to endure in recent years. He reported that neo-Nazis were threatening him online, including suggesting that someone send him a black mamba (a highly deadly snake) as a Hanukkah gift. Mazel claimed that the fact that there are just a few judicial experts on extremism in the country made them vulnerable to attack. He went on to recommend that the judicial system replace the individual experts with a committee on extremism and racism.

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Anti-Feminist Remarks From Israeli Activist

By Nathan Jeffay

She is one of the most successful religious women in the media, but Shulamit Melamed wants everyone to know that she’s no feminist.

The director of the pro-settler news network Arutz Sheva, Melamed runs the organization’s news site and oversees the newspaper Basheva, which is distributed weekly in an enormous number of synagogues and community venues across Israel and the West Bank — while raising seven children.

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Nazis, Art Theft and Clooney's Next Film

By Michael Kaminer

Getty Images

A gritty tale of stolen Nazi artwork is about to get the big-budget treatment from Hollywood.

“The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” by author Robert M. Edsel, has been optioned by actor/filmmaker George Clooney, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov will adapt the book into a screenplay; the film “will likely serve as a starring vehicle for the ‘Descendants’ star,” who will also direct, the Hollywood Reporter said.

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Update: Pols Weigh In on Swastika Earrings

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

A quick addendum to Renee’s earlier post on the swastika earrings for sale at a Brooklyn jewelry store.

The earrings have drawn condemnation from Jewish elected officials in New York, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and New York City Councilman Steve Levin.

And though the earrings aren’t exactly Nazi swastikas, the elected officials say that they still found them objectionable.

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Brooklyn Store Sells Swastika Earrings

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Looking for some earrings? No problem: You can just pop into the Bejeweled store on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to choose a pair from a variety of designs. There are little hearts, peace signs, initials… and swastikas.

Yes, they sell swastika earrings — though whoever made them appears not to have been able to tell right from left. Nonetheless, they still look unmistakably like the symbol of Nazi Germany.

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A Politician’s Wardrobe For Yair Lapid

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

It seems Israelis are reacting in very different ways to the very recent news that charismatic Yair Lapid is leaving journalism to enter politics.

Unfortunately, one Israeli, someone apparently named Itzik Chen, wrote a death threat on Lapid’s Facebook wall. “Believe me, if I see you I’ll want to kill you. You are an anti-Semitic Israel hater…You deserve to die, and he who carries it out will be blessed,” he wrote. “It will be a shame if you (challenge) Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, because then it will be very similar to what happened to [slain prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin,” he went on.

On the other hand, the staff over at Xnet (Ynet’s lifestyle section), has been scrambling to assemble a politician’s wardrobe for Lapid. It seems there is not a minute to lose in terms of focusing on the really important things when it comes to running for office.

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Jay-Z Partners With Israeli Tech Firm

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

The big Jay-Z news this week is obviously the birth of his daughter, Blue Ivy.

But employees at an Israeli tech company are probably just as excited about another development involving the rapper: He’s signed on as the spokesman for one of the start-up’s new ventures.

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Interest-Free Loans Improve Quality of Life

By Nathan Jeffay

An American immigrant to Israel received today one of the country’s great honors, the Knesset Speaker’s Prize for Quality of Life.

In 1990, three decades after immigrating to Israel, Hebrew University academic Eliezer Jaffe set about taking the old shtetl idea of a free loan society and building it on a national scale in Israel.

Jaffe, co-chairman of the Hebrew University Centre for the Study of Philanthropy and author of “Giving Wisely: The Israel Guide to Non-profit and Volunteer Organizations,” set up the Israel Free Loan Association, a body that grants interest-free loans to low-income individuals and businesses.

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Finally, a ‘Sh-t Christians Say To Jews’ Video

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Sabrina Bringuier
Actress Allison Pearlman

It’s no surprise that a “Sh-t Girls Say” meme has spawned spin-off parodies like “Sh-t Black Girls Say,” “Sh-t Asian Girls Say,” “Sh-t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” and so forth.

And now, of course, there is “Sh-t Christians Say to Jews,” courtesy of actress Allison Pearlman. Don’t pretend like you didn’t see this coming. The video is a “tribute/parody to ‘Sh-t Girls Say’ and ‘Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls,’” according to the description Pearlman posted on YouTube.

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Shack Up in a Tel Aviv ‘Pixel Hotel’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

It used to be that if someone asked you if you wanted to shack up on the beach in Tel Aviv, there would have been a good chance they were rudely propositioning you. But now, they could very well be assisting you in making upscale hotel reservations for your trip to the Big Orange.

Looking to the pixel hotel trend that started in Austria (a pixel hotel has rooms scattered around the city in unconventional and abandoned locations, like old storefronts, former workshops, hidden courtyards, or even on boats), the Atlas hotel chain and the Tel Aviv municipality have announced that they will be upcycling lifeguard shacks on the Bograshov beach into boutique lodgings. Talk about a beachfront view!

Lilach Chitayat, Anat Safran, and Alan Chitayat are the designers for the project, and they hope to “pixelate” areas beyond the beach. They envision similar projects in the Jaffa Port, Neve Tzedek and water towers all around the country.


In Israel, Free Preschool From Age 3

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

It has been six months since moms and dads pushed strollers as they pounded the pavement in last summer’s social protests in cities around Israel. One of their major complaints was that the cost of day care and private early childhood education was prohibitively high.

It seems that they got their point across, because on Sunday, the Israeli cabinet voted to approve free education to all Israeli children from age 3 and up (until now, it was free for only age 5 and older). A law for free preschool education has been on the books since 1984, but it was never enforced. Implementation of the law was postponed from year to year by means of the Economic Arrangements Law, which allowed the Finance Ministry to object to its high cost.

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