The Shmooze

Unladylike Brawl on Jerusalem Light Rail

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Streisand To Sing for the IDF

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

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.

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Tel Aviv Fashion Week: Gowns to Headdresses

By Susan M. Kirschbaum

Getty Images
A model presents a creation by Israeli designer Sasson Kedem during Tel Aviv Fashion Week.

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:

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Anne Hathaway To Marry Jewish Boyfriend

By Nathan Burstein

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Hathaway and Shulman in 2010

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.

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‘Kosher’ Clothing Crackdown in Jerusalem

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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).

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Visit Einstein's Brain in Philly

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

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?”

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Kosher Liver That Tastes Like Pork

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

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.

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Realtor Helps Toronto Muslims Buy Cemetery

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Muslims and Jews may not always get along, but there are instances in which they manage to put aside differences in order to tend to the basic things in life. While political leaders continue to struggle to make peace in the Middle East, a story out of Toronto proves that coexistence and mutual support is possible in certain matters of life and death.

Toronto’s Muslim community has acquired its first cemetery in the city thanks to the help of a Jew — and an Israeli-born one, no less. The Canadian Jewish News reports that Yosi Behar, 68, arranged for an interest free loan for the Toronto Muslim Cemetery Corp., which enabled it to buy a $6.8 million property from the Beth Olam Cemetery Corporation.

Behar, who has been in the real estate business for 43 years said, “this is the most satisfying deal I have ever put together.” The local Sunni and Shiite communities came together on the project, and representatives of the two groups came to Behar’s home to hammer out the deal. They then proceeded to a Sunni mosque to sign the documents. Behar served as a witness and signed his name in Hebrew on the papers.

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'Hannukah Pricing' Vodka Ads Are Dumped

By Forward Staff

A New York vodka billboard featuring the slogan “Christmas Quality, Hannukah Pricing,” was quickly removed after the Anti-Defamation League criticized it as anti-Semitic, news reports said.

One billboard for Wodka vodka was taken down from a prominent spot overlooking the West Side Highway in Manhattan, the New York Times reported.

The ad, part of a campaign, features two dogs, one wearing a Santa cap and one wearing a yarmulke with the message “Christmas Quality, Hanukah Pricing.” According to the ADL, the billboards were featured in several locations in New York.

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Holocaust Survivors: Beware Identity Theft

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Elderly Holocaust survivors, many of whom require financial assistance for daily living expenses, now have another worry to contend with: identity theft. It seems that a worker in charge of protecting survivors’ interests was willing to steal their personal information in order to make a quick buck.

Crystal Thorne, 23, a coordinator at the Jewish Community Services of South Florida office in North Miami, is in police custody after having been arrested on Saturday. She was to have made her first appearance Monday in Miami federal court on charges of having sold Holocaust survivors’ identity information for a total of $1,000. Thorne had access to the survivors’ records in the agency’s Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program.

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Get Your Neoprene Joe Fresh Dress in NYC

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Have you been on the lookout for an orange neoprene dress to wear to one of those upcoming holiday parties? How about a matching coat to go with it? Look no further! That ensemble, along with many of Joe Fresh’s other “signature pieces in the contemporary, sportswear, intimates and beauty categories,” has arrived in New York from the Great White North.

The brand’s creative director, Joe Mimran, recently entertained members of the press at the new Joe Fresh boutique in the Flatiron District, one of six locations opened or soon to open in Manhattan. (A Fifth Avenue flagship store is scheduled to welcome shoppers the coming spring.)

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Meet ‘James Deen,’ Jewish Porn Star

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Apparently “nerdy Jewish dudes” are a hot genre in porn — or they’re becoming one, thanks to an up-and- (er, never mind) performer who’s had a bar mitzvah.

The star in question — whose nom de porn is James Deen — is billed as “What Women Want” in the winter issue of Good magazine, which includes a lengthy profile of the 25-year-old. Although the piece doesn’t go into serious detail about his upbringing, Deen clearly identifies as Jewish, regularly “crack[ing] Jew jokes” and referring at one point to his “overanalytical Jew brain.” (That’s not a euphemism.)

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Syracuse Coach Accused of Sex Abuse

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Hot on the heels of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, Syracuse University announced late last week that it had put its associate head basketball coach on administrative leave in response to allegations that he sexually molested ball boys from the 1970s to the 1990s.

ESPN reports that Syracuse police have opened an investigation in to the allegations put forth against Bernie Fine by Bobby Davis, now 39, and his stepbrother Mike Lang, now 45. Davis alleges that Fine molested him beginning in 1984, and that the abuse took place at Fine’s home, the university’s sports facilities and on road trips. Lang says Fine began molesting him several years earlier, when he was in 5th or 6th grade.

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Students: Can Optimism Hurt Your Test Scores?

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

Think positive — but only if you’re a woman.

New research from Ben Gurion University of the Negev concludes that optimism boosts performance for female students. According to a study just made available to journalists, female students who were more optimistic were found to achieve significantly higher grades than their less optimistic course mates. Not so for male students.

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Mila Kunis Named ‘Knockout of the Year’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Knockout: Kunis on ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’ in July

With that leaked-photo scandal behind her, Mila Kunis can bask in the glory of being officially dubbed “Knockout of the Year” by GQ.

The GQ photo of Milena Markovna Kunis (a native of Chernovtsy, Ukraine — which was part of the USSR when she was born) features the actress posing seductively on a backyard swimming pool diving board in nothing but heavy eye makeup, a white tank top, orange bikini bottoms and a pair of high-heeled silver sandals.

Michael Idov, the writer who profiled Kunis for the magazine, found her in jeans and a sweatshirt, however, when he met up with her in Detroit, where she was filming “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” Sam Raimi’s massive prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.” The young woman, whom he describes as “sardonic, brassy, effortlessly real, the girl you can’t get out of your head,” plays a witch in the movie.

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'Hitler' Haircuts All the Rage

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

A lot of young guys have been walking lately into barbershops all over the world asking for a certain hairstyle. It’s not a new one. In fact, if you are at all familiar with archival film footage and still photographs from Germany in the 1930s, you will recognize it immediately. Older people may cringe at the association, but youngsters are simply asking haircutters for the “Hitler Youth.”

Fashion commentators are saying that the hairstyle — buzzed on the sides, long on top and slicked back with pomade — is just the right look to go with the recent return to styles reminiscent of yesteryear. “I think it goes along with a newly restored romance for tailoring, the cut and craftsmanship you see with this current heritage trend,” photographer Scott Schuman told the New York Times.

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Revealed! Henry the K Blasted Jews

By Renee Ghert-Zand

getty images
Henry Kissinger

It seems Henry Kissinger had little patience for Jews who were fighting for the rights of their brethren in the Soviet Union or lobbying for Israel.

Britain’s Daily Mail reports that newly-released State Department documents indicate that in 1972, when he was National Security Advisor in the Nixon administration, Kissinger called such Jews “bastards.”

At the time, the White House and State Department were being flooded with requests from Soviet Jewry activists for the U.S. to make some public diplomatic moves to address the high levies the Kremlin had put on exit visas. Among the documents revealed was a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir urging Nixon to abandon his “quiet diplomacy” approach and to confront the Soviets directly on the issue.

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Mouse Sperm Breakthrough Could Help Cure Infertility

By Renee Ghert-Zand

In a tale of mice and men, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers have made a breakthrough in rodents that could eventually help infertile male humans. The group, led by professor Mahmoud Huleihel, has produced mouse sperm from germ cells using in-vitro techniques.

The researchers at Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Faculty of Health Sciences in Beersheba, in cooperation with professor Eitan Lunenfeld at Soroka University Medical Center and professor Stefan Schlatt of the University of Münster in Germany, pioneered a three-dimensional cell culture system on a bed of agar to produce sperm from the germ cells. The Jerusalem Post reports that Huleihel believes that the three-dimensional cell culture system succeeded where previously-tried two-dimensional systems did not, because it uses soft agar that closely replicates the natural environment in the male mouse’s testes where the final stages of spermatogenesis normally take place.

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Jewish Rapper Mac Miller Tops Billboard Chart

By Nathan Burstein

Wikimedia Commons

It’s not often that a Jewish rapper tops the Billboard album chart, so it seems worth noting the sudden rise of Mac Miller, a 19-year-old hip-hop star straight outta Pittsburgh.

Miller, whose real name is Malcolm McCormick, debuted in the No. 1 spot with debut record “Blue Slide Park,” selling more than 144,000 copies since last week. Without other major new releases, Miller beat out Top 10 releases from major stars such as Adele, as well as Christmas albums by Justin Bieber and Michael Buble.

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Natalie Portman Out and About Post-Aleph

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Now that she has her Aleph, Natalie Portman is returning to an activity that’s always been a safe bet. (Groan if you must; we couldn’t resist a little spelling pun for you Hebrew readers out there.)

The Oscar-winning “Black Swan” star is getting back to acting — of a sort, anyway. Portman, 30, made one of her first public appearances, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, since the birth of her first child five months ago. The actress participated in a reading of “The Apartment,” the 1960 Billy Wilder movie that won five Oscars. (Shirley MacLaine earned a nomination in the role Portman will play.)

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