There’s a kosher menu at the student union. Jewish Theological Seminary is one of its academic partners. And its Hillel House is growing fast.
But Muhlenberg College is “a small Lutheran school erected around a soaring stone chapel with a cross on top,” as The Associated Press described it in a report yesterday. And the school has become “hot” among Jewish students thanks to “word of mouth in the Jewish community,” the AP reported.
Approximately 34 percent of Muhlenberg’s 2,200 students are Jewish, the AP said. And the biggest gains have come in the past five years or so. Why the trend? A university administrator told the AP the school appreciates diversity. But the director of Muhlenberg’s Hillel House offered her own hypothesis. “Jews are like nothing else in terms of word of mouth,” said Patti Mittleman. “There are so many Jews at Muhlenberg who are having a positive experience at Muhlenberg. That gets talked about in the synagogue and in youth group and in summer camp and in all of those ways that Jews meet each other and talk to each other.”
There are many things The Shmooze has yet to learn about Gandhi, but it’s hard to imagine anything more surprising than this: “the love of his life” was a German-Jewish bodybuilder named Hermann.
So says a new biography, “Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India,” which reports that the anti-colonial leader left his wife for the man, one Hermann Kallenbach, in 1914, keeping a portrait of him opposite his bed. A review in the Wall Street Journal quotes from a letter in which Gandhi wrote that he considered Vaseline to be, umm, “a constant reminder” of his beloved.
“A biracial Jewish former child star from Canadian television who’s a multimillion-dollar selling artist? You couldn’t create a better Canadian in a science lab.” That’s how one wag described rapper Drake, who made his debut as host of the Juno Awards — Canada’s Grammys — in Toronto last night. And from Drake’s red-carpet kiss with his kvelling Jewish mother to an appearance by a Semitic rock legend, the evening boasted a few Hebraic moments.
After escorting her son through the red-carpet gauntlet, Sandi Graham got a shout-out from Drake, who name-checked “my Jewish mother” in his opening monologue. Drake — nee Aubrey Drake Graham— was raised Jewish, bar mitzvahed and even went to Jewish day school, as the Forward has reported.
It sounds more like a wish list than something to plan on, but Lady Gaga and some other major stars could be on their way to Israel this summer.
Today’s Yediot Aharonot reports that the “Born This Way” singer is being courted by “operatives in the American and Canadian Jewish communities” about a concert that would take place in one of the country’s biggest venues. The show would be the 24-year-old’s second performance in Israel, following a 2009 music-festival appearance that took place just as she was becoming a global phenomenon. This time, the article says, concert organizers are hoping the singer’s visit could be used to help promote tourism to the country. If Gaga does go, The Shmooze simply suggests that any meat in her outfits be kosher.
Is a rabbi’s picture dangerous?
That’s what Montreal police seemed to imply by fining and ticketing cabbie Arieh Perecowicz, who’d racked up more than $1,000 in fines “for having pictures of his daughter and a rabbi in his cab, along with a Canadian flag, two small religious symbols and a Remembrance Day poppy,” according to the Montreal Gazette.
And after fighting the citations for nearly five years, Perecowicz yesterday emerged victorious, with the charges dropped and the chief of the Montreal Taxi Bureau conceding “that religious objects are permissible as long as they don’t constitute a security hazard or proselytizing,” the Gazette wrote. “The deal includes specific written acknowledgment by the chief of the Montreal Taxi Bureau that religious objects are permissible,” the newspaper reports.
Even as she made her final exit, Elizabeth Taylor knew how to make an entrance.
At the star’s request, Taylor’s funeral began 15 minutes past schedule yesterday in California, London’s Daily Mail reported. “She even wanted to be late to her own funeral,” the paper quoted her publicist as saying.
Presided over by a rabbi, the private burial included at least one other element of Jewish tradition — but dressed up, of course, in Taylor’s typically extravagant style.
Less than a month after an ex-employee sued him for sexual harassment, four women are banding together in a similar case against American Apparel CEO Dov Charney.
According to Courthouse News Service, the quartet’s lead plaintiff “claims Charney sexually assaulted her when she went to his home for an interview. Three other women say they can’t describe in detail what happened to them because they signed confidentiality agreements that Charney requires of all American Apparel employees.” The same plaintiff alleges that after left the company, “Charney sent her inappropriate sexual text messages and called her, saying ‘he was masturbating on the phone while they spoke,’ according to the complaint.”
The complaint, as reported in Courthouse News Service, alleges an apparent sexual assault that left the lead accuser “traumatized and terrified.” All four women also contend that arbitration and confidentiality agreements they signed with the company are invalid, Courthouse News Service says.
Extra! Extra! Houdini has done it again: he’s managed yet another fabulous trick. But this is the Big One, the one in which he comes back from the dead. Just look around: Google has adopted him for its logo; he’s on novels, Broadway shows, museums exhibits, movies, biographies, playing cards, computer games… Not bad for a humble Hungarian immigrant and the son of a rabbi who dreamed of hiding his Jewishness. Of course, posterity has done just the opposite, turning him into the ur-mentsh: all things to all people, the escape artist who could never disappear. Viva Houdini!
Crossposted from TMZ
Liz Taylor’s funeral will be officiated by a man with plenty of celebrity experience — because he’s helped bury dozens of them.
Taylor is having a traditional Jewish burial ceremony at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, Calif., right now — and the man doing the service is Rabbi Jerry Cutler.
Cutler has presided over the funeral services for Milton Berle, Shelley Winters, Walter Matthau, Red Buttons and Jan Murray.
Last night on Jon Stewart, Wyatt Cenac reported from West Hampton Beach- the West Bank of Long Island- where trouble has arisen over an Eruv. Some residents aren’t happy about the invisible boundary that allows ultra-observant Jews to carry keys or push baby strollers on the Jewish Sabbath.
Success has many parents and, it appears, a number of vigorous children. The Maccabeats YouTube success at Hanukkah has spawned a whole cottage industry of Jewish videos.
The latest of them is the offspring of Dreamworks (not officially) and Chabad (not officially) and is not, thankfully, an exposition of a minor festival but a celebration of the spiciness of sephardi culture.
Starring Matisyahu’s son as a small boy in a shopping cart, directed by Larry Guterman of “Antz” and written by Chaim Marcus of Chabad’s “To Life” telethon, Ya’alili by 8th Day (as in “On the seventh day Hashem rested and on the eighth day He created music videos”) is a bi-cultural romp through a supermarket whose gender balance reflects no actual store in existence.
But, despite that unpromising premise, it’s a lot of fun, with high production values, charif, gefilte and singing fish, body popping, ouds aplenty and enough Yiddish, Hebrew and Yeshivish to keep Philologos happy for weeks.
Elizabeth Taylor died this morning of congestive heart failure at age 79. The last of a generation of great screen goddesses, Taylor was most famous for her roles in “Cleopatra” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” — the latter for which she won her second Oscar.
Married eight times (twice to co-star Richard Burton), Taylor famously brought the AIDS fight to the forefront when public knowledge about the disease was minimal and, on the principle of personal friendship, defended singer Michael Jackson up until his death in 2009.
Horst Strub was an enthusiastic young member of Germany’s neo-Nazi NDP party. Monika Strub, 35, is running for Baden-Württemberg’s state parliament for the nation’s socialist Left party. But they have more in common than their political differences would imply.
In fact, they’re the same person, reports German news site TheLocal.de. Until gender-reassignment surgery, “Horst” sported “cropped hair, a beard and a bomber jacket,” TheLocal says, embracing “the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) from 2000 to 2002.”
“Monica” is now a nurse and photographer “who decided to go ahead and campaign for the Social Democrats after convincing the party that she really had changed, not just in terms of her gender but also in her political beliefs,” according to UK site OrangeNews.
A Montreal blogger who’s raised the hackles of his Orthodox neighbors in Montreal’s Outremont district scored a victory against a Jewish businessman who’d been seeking a restraining order against him.
CTV reports that Pierre Lacerte’s blog, Accommodements Outremont, has “created tension on his street” by “chronicling what he perceives as bylaw violations from Outremont’s Hasidic community.”
Much of Lacerte’s anger “is drawn from an unmarked, inconspicuous synagogue in a [neighborhood] apartment that he contends creates an undue level of disturbance on his street,” CTV reports.
The French-language blog, which reported on a range of apparent violations of city ordinances by the area’s growing Orthodox population, drew accusations of anti-Semitism “to the point where Michael Rosenberg sought the restraining order that was rejected Monday,” CTV wrote.
Nearly a year after the scandal that ended her epic run as a White House correspondent, Helen Thomas has re-emerged to share more thoughts about Israel and Jews - specifically, that they’re “wonderful,” but also that they wield too much money and power.
“[They are] using their power, and they have power in every direction… over the White House, power over Congres,” Thomas says in the new issue of Playboy. “Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There’s total control…”
The 90-year-old Thomas, who covered every administration from JFK to Obama, said she considers herself anti-Zionist rather than anti-Jewish, and mixed a few words of praise into her conspiratorial comments. “I think [Jews are] wonderful people,” she said. “They had to have the most depth. They were leaders in civil rights. They’ve always had the heart for others but not for Arabs, for some reason.”
Because sharing is caring, here’s a picture of Madonna dressed as Charlie Chaplin for Purim this weekend in New York City.
Ben Gurion University of the Negev chose today to announce that Geldof is to receive an honorary doctorate at its Annual Board of Governors Meeting in May.
Geldof, former lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, is a well-known campaigner and activist against poverty. In 1985 he staged the Live Aid concert. In 2005 he organized the Live 8 rock concerts to raise awareness of world poverty and raise money to alleviate poverty in Africa. These concerts took place simultaneously in London, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome and Berlin, with the participation of top musicians from around the world.
In 1975, UK author Alan Coren published a humorous collection of essays called “Golfing for Cats” — and emblazoned the cover with a huge swastika. He had noticed the most popular titles in Britain were about cats, golf and Nazis.
Thirty-six years later, notes the BBC this week, “Nazi books are going stronger than ever. A staggering 850 books about the Third Reich were published in 2010, up from 350 in the year 2000. And they mostly still have a swastika on the front cover.”
The sheer range of Reich-related literature in Britain is astonishing, the BBC reports. “The phenomenal and continuing success of books about the Nazis includes fiction, non-fiction and science fiction. They include the occult and the Nazis, Nazi magic, Nazi weaponry and Nazi doctors. There’s the history of SS uniforms, SS staff cars, SS recruitment and propaganda. You can read counter histories imagining Britain if the Nazis had won or post-war histories of the exploitation of Nazi scientific discoveries by America and the other Allied powers. There is a firsthand account of Himmler’s masseur.”
In Israel, the lobby for animal welfare is strong, and growing. It’s an issue that brings together left and right, secular and religious… up to a point.
Behind the scenes in the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in recent days, there have been desperate attempts to add a clause to new animal welfare legislation in order to safeguard the right of Israelis to symbolically transfer their sins to a chicken and then have it slaughtered.
Orthodox lawmakers are keen to ensure that they don’t find themselves to have approved laws that are used to stop the annual atonement ceremony of kapparpot which is performed on Yom Kippur eve. Kapparot schloggers, as those who perform of this ritual are called, declare that the bird will carry their sins, pass it over their head (carefully, as an injured bird would render its meat non-kosher) and then take it to a shochet for slaughter.
Israeli business paper The Marker reports that a court has fined the drink manufacturer Tempo 13,000 ($3,500) shekels after a woman found glass in a bottle of Jump soft drink. The woman who found the glass gets 3,000 shekels ($850) in compensation.
Aside from the soft penalty, the strange part of the story is that according to the report the company must sign a 20,000 shekels ($5,500) guaranty that it will “not commit similar offences in the next two years.” Now call me a stickler for consumer rights, but I would want quite an assurance that I can have soft drinks without worrying about shards of glass on an ongoing basis. Instead, it seems we’re assured glass-free drinking until March 17 2013. Make a note of the date.