The Shmooze

Footage Shows Jews Were Britain's First Surfers

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Four Jewish friends from London’s East End were the first Brits ever to hang ten. A recently discovered, long-forgotten home movie from 1929 showing Lewis Rosenberg, Harry Rochlin and Fred and Ben Elvey standing up on a homemade surf board on the waves of Holywell Bay in Cornwall has been authenticated as the earliest evidence of the sport in England.

Inspired by a newsreel they saw of Australian surfers, the teens decided they wanted to try the sport out for themselves. Rosenberg carved a 7-foot board out of balsa wood, and the group headed out to the seaside.

A reporter for the UK’s The Jewish Chronicle who has viewed the film reports: “The soundless black-and-white film, recorded on fragile 9.5mm stock on one of the first home movie cameras, captures the excitement of one of the boys, sticking his head out of the train window, grinning, pipe in mouth as he heads for the coast…The friends smile and pose for the camera. At the beach they lie flat on the surfboard, and attempt to ride the waves standing, often falling and splashing back into the sea.”

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Travel Guide Details Israel as Palestine

By Nathan Jeffay

It’s the ultimate contentious issue in the Middle East — how to define territory. This week, the Palestinian Authority’s representatives in the UK were disciplined by the country’s advertising watchdog for seemingly wiping Israel off the map. As part of its campaign, it published a map of Israel, in addition to the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in the red, green and black colors of the Palestinian flag. On the map was the slogan, “Discover Israel.” Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the map was “misleading.” But the fight to get tourists to regard Israel as Palestine is still on.

Travel publisher Bradt has just released the first ever guide that covers Israel under the title “Palestine.” Most travel publishers avoid making such political statements by calling their guides something like “Israel and the Palestinian territories.” While the publisher’s blurb plays down the statement by saying that the book deals with “culturally Palestinian (Israeli Arab) enclaves found within Israel,” in interviews with the Palestinian media, author Sarah Irving says that the message is key. She told Maan News:

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Bader Ginsburg’s Hubby Was ‘Chef Supreme’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

It turns out that while Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was busy writing legal opinions, her late husband Martin Ginsburg was at work cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

As a tribute to Mr. Ginsburg, who died in June 2010, the Supreme Court spouses have put together a cookbook titled “Chef Supreme” in his honor. The 126-page book is a collection of recipes from the late gourmand, who was more commonly known as a prominent tax lawyer and scholar.

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#israelhates on Twitter: Fun or Offensive?

By Nathan Jeffay

It’s like one of those catchphrase competitions, but for Israel-haters. The new craze on Twitter: #israelhates.

According to reports at one point this week the hashtag accounted for 0.15% of all Twitter traffic, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you think about the scale of Twitter’s usage, is quite remarkable.

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On Christmas Trees and the ‘Menorahment’ Craze

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Yourtreedition.com

Star of David tree-toppers aren’t necessarily meant for Hanukkah bushes. In fact, they are reportedly favored by both evangelical Christians and intermarried couples looking for just the right thing to place high atop their Christmas trees.

Leave it to Jews to be the ones to come up with the idea of Christmas “menorahments.” The Jerusalem Post reports that Jewish couple Morri and Marina Chowaiki have sold thousands of their Hanukkah Tree Toppers since first putting their patented six-pointed silver stars on Amazon.com in 2009.

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Halle Berry To Play a 1930s Jew

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

She’s been a Bond girl and a superhero, and now Halle Berry’s set for a very different type of role: “a Jewish woman in the 1930s,” the Oscar winner says in Tuesday’s New York Times.

Little else is known about the role, one of several Berry will play in “Cloud Atlas,” a big-budget drama about “characters in six eras who might share a soul migrating through time.” Berry’s co-stars will include Tom Hanks, and the directors include Tom Tykwer, the German filmmaker behind “Run Lola Run.”

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Hanukkah Rap Battle

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Too Short (left) and Jim Jones

The Shmooze is pretty certain that these off-the-cuff Hanukkah raps by Too Short and Jim Jones are not going to become part of the Hanukkah song canon. Somehow, it seems unlikely that these ditties commissioned by TMZ for an “It’s Dreidel Time, Bitch!” rap battle will have as much longevity has “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “S’vivon Sov Sov Sov.”

But you’ve got to give these guys points for trying.

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Long-Awaited Victory for Jewish Soccer Star

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Rick Bale/Stanford Athletics
Camille Levin

Stanford’s women’s soccer team won its first NCAA championship on Sunday, and senior Camille Levin was instrumental in making it happen. “Levin had one of the strongest games of her career and was arguably the best player on the field today for either side,” wrote Joseph Beyda in the New York Times.

The 1-0 win over Duke was an emotional moment for the Stanford squad, which had reached the Final Four for four years straight, but had never before come home with the College Cup.

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She Knew Mitch Albom When

By Laura Goldman

Getty Images
Albom at the Disney ABC Television Group & The Hallmark Hall Of Fame Premiere Of ‘Have A Little Faith’

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.

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Los Angeles Jews Imagine the Future

By Rex Weiner

Marvin Steindler Photography
The group Moshav entertains during a Leonard Cohen Tribute

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).

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‘Christmas’ Menorahs Popular in Ireland

By Nathan Burstein

iStockphoto

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.

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Larry King Plans To Freeze Himself

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Alive and Well: Larry King at the 2011 Friars Club Testimonial dinner gala in November

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.

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Claire Danes: Tel Aviv is a ‘Party Town’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

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.

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Will These Two Women Make the 'Amazing Race' Cut?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers (Finally) Perform in Israel

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

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.

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Meir Dagan Makes ‘Top Global Thinkers’ List

By Nathan Jeffay

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.

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Jewish Man Sues Na’amat for Discrimination

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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.

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Kristin Chenoweth Dishes on Jewish Men

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Chenoweth with Sorkin in 2006

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.

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Viral Video Leaked Sensitive IDF Info

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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.

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Fisher vs. Shatner; Star Wars vs. Star Trek

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

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.”

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