The Shmooze

Alicia Silverstone Names Baby Boy 'Bear Blu'

By Michael Kaminer

Wikimedia

Jewish actress Alicia Silverstone, whose vegetarian activism has drawn more attention than her thespian activity, is back in the spotlight after naming her newborn son for the ursidae family.

Bear Blu Jarecki was born May 5 to the actress and author, 34, and husband Christopher Jarecki, Silverstone’s rep told People yesterday.

Silverstone followed up with her own blog post this morning. “My husband and I welcomed our 7 lb 15 oz baby boy Bear Blu Jarecki into the world on May 5th at 7:50am (PT),” she wrote on The Kind Life. “We are all three in love! I’m so grateful to this community for all the love, support, good wishes and happy vibes you’ve sent me during my pregnancy…it has been wonderful. Thank you all!” The blog gets its name from Silverstone’s 2009 bestseller “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Christopher Jarecki, Babies, Animals, Alicia Silverstone, Bears

$1 Million For a Bar Mitzvah? No Way, Kanye

By Eileen Reynolds

Wikimedia

Former NBC CEO Jeff Zucker threw his son Andrew a lavish bar mitzvah at the Four Seasons this weekend — complete with sushi, a celebrity guest list that included Katie Couric and customized Converse sneakers handed out to Andrew’s pals as party favors.

But if there was one thing missing from the bash, it was an appearance by Kanye West, who demanded a staggering $1 million when the family asked if he would perform at the event. The New York Post reports that Zucker briefly considered offering West a mere $800,000 — but then came to his senses and offered the gig to Jewish rapper Drake instead (who accepted, presumably for a more reasonable price).

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Katie Couric, Kanye West, Jeff Zucker, Four Seasons, Colin Cowie, Drake, Buddy Valastro, Bar Mitzvah

Where's Hillary? Hasidic Newspaper Photoshops Clinton Out of Bin Laden Photo

By Nathan Burstein

A Hasidic newspaper in Brooklyn has attracted national attention for defying explicit White House instructions and erasing Hillary Clinton from what’s arguably the year’s most powerful photo.

The Yiddish-language newspaper, Der Tzitung, also erased Director of Counterterrorism Audrey Tomason from the image, which was taken as President Obama and his top officials watched the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Der Tzitung left all the men in the photo. The paper’s decision to alter the image directly violates instructions from the White House, which decreed upon the image’s release that it “may not be manipulated in any way.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sarah Palin, Osama Bin Laden, Hillary Clinton, Audrey Tomason, Der Zeitung

Coming Soon: Israel's Biometric ID Cards

By Nathan Jeffay

Biometric identity cards — cards carrying a computer chip with biographical information like a photo, fingerprints, signature, and date of birth — were controversial from the moment they were first mentioned. Now Israel is finally ready to issue them, the local media reports.

We have known this was coming since the run up to the vote on the so-called biometric law, which passed in December. The Forward reported almost two years ago about concerns that were being voiced. But there’s one bizarre detail that has only just come to light.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Israel, Holocaust, Biometric Identity Cards, Zionism

Rabbi and Father of 11 on Trial for Molesting IDF Officer

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Scribd

Editor’s Note: Yesterday Bidany was found guilty of the charge of molesting a female Israeli Army officer.

A female IDF officer is not taking an alleged case of misdemeanor sexual contact sitting down — especially not while sitting on an airplane.

The NY Daily News reported that the 23-year-old officer, who commands a missile defense unit, has accused an Orthodox rabbi and father of 11 of groping her groin and breast while sitting next to her on Delta flight 269 en route from Tel Aviv to New York last March 27. The rabbi, Gavriel Bidany, is currently standing trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, and faces six months in prison if found guilty by Magistrate Ramon Reyes.

The woman has testified that Bidany, who was in the seat next to hers, first touched her groin and later her breast, both times bogusly claiming to have been asleep when it happened. The first time, he took his hand away when she was startled awake by the groping after having put her head down on the tray table to rest. The second time, she reportedly asked him what he was doing, and he said, “No, no, it’s a mistake. I’m asleep.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sexual Conduct, Rabbi, NY Daily News, Israel, IDF, Gavriel Bidany, Ramon Reyes

Upside Down Day: In Tel Aviv, Students and Janitors Switch Places

By Nathan Jeffay

Too often, janitors in public buildings the world over are taken for granted. Nobody captured this phenomenon as vividly as film director Ken Loach in his movie Bread and Roses, in which a janitor expresses that she feels invisible.

Yesterday, students at Tel Aviv University made a sweeping gesture — quite literally — to show they appreciate their cleaning staff. Some 40 students relieved janitors of their duties, taking over their shifts and giving them a chance to rest.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Leaf Blowers, Ken Loach, Janitors, Israel, Bread And Roses, Tel Aviv University

Ringling Heiress Sues Brother After Assault at Shiva

By Nathan Burstein

When it comes to the Jewish family behind Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, the real circus is taking place outside the big top.

In a lawsuit that involves a rabbi, secret gay lovers and an alleged assault at a shiva, Ringling heiress Karen Feld is suing her brother, Kenneth, for $110 million, claiming she sustained brain damage after he ordered her forcibly removed from a shiva minyan for their aunt.

Karen Feld, 63, says she suffered severe injuries when Kenneth’s bodyguards threw her out of her aunt’s Washington, DC, penthouse, then beat her. (They also mistreated her pet poodle, the suit alleges.) Kenneth Feld may be involved in the “Jewish mafia,” the suit claims, and could also be linked to money laundering and murder.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ringling Brothers, Kenneth Feld, Karen Feld, Barnum and Bailey, assault, circus, lawsuit, shiva

Galliano Loses Jewish Lawyer

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

The Shmooze is shocked — shocked! — to report that an anti-Semite and his Jewish lawyer have parted ways.

Depending on your source, Jewish attorney Stephane Zerbib has either quit working for British fashion designer John Galliano — or Galliano fired him. An unnamed source claims Zerbib “had enough” from Galliano, who was fired by the Christian Dior fashion label in March for an anti-Semitic outburst that went viral on YouTube.

But a Galliano spokeswoman claims the opposite is true, and that Galliano dismissed Zerbib weeks ago due to “apparent irregularities in respect to … financial affairs.” (Side note: even if this is true, and we’re interested to see the evidence, accusing a Jewish employee of financial misconduct may not help Galliano rehabilitate his image.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: fashion, anti-Semitism, Stephane Zerbib, John Galliano, hate speech

Larry David To Play Nun in 'Three Stooges' Film

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Casting Larry David as a nun is brilliant — as strange and amusing as Condoleezza Rice’s turn as herself last week on “30 Rock.”

Known for his constant kvetching and general misanthropy on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” David has been announced as the newest cast member on the upcoming “Three Stooges” movie, which will co-star fellow TV comedians Sean Hayes (“Will and Grace”) and Jane Lynch (“Glee”). Like Lynch, David will play a senior nun, but one with a last name that momentarily shocked the Shmooze: Mengele, like the infamous Auschwitz doctor who fled after the war to South America.

We’re not sure what connection there might be between David’s Mother Mengele and the Nazi war criminal, but we imagine it’ll come up in some fashion when the movie arrives in theaters next year.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Three Stooges, Nuns, Condoleezza Rice, Larry David, Dr. Mengele, 30 Rock

Hipsters Embrace Hasidic Headwear

By Nathan Burstein

When Hasidim and hipsters have shared headlines in recent years, it’s most often been because of tensions dividing the two communities. So it’s nice, for a change, to see a story about something the two groups have in common — specifically, their love of a distinctive type of headwear.

The New York Times reports that Williamsburg’s hipster population is now embracing the Borsalino, the brand of black fedora long worn by Hasidic men as a way to identify themselves and each other.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: New York Times, Hipsters, Hats, Hasidim, Fashion, Brooklyn, Borsalino, Williamsburg

Celebrities Get Twitter-Happy With News of Bin Laden's Death

By Michael Kaminer

Always hyperactive, the Twitterverse went into overdrive with the news of Osama bin Laden’s death — and Jewish celebs and notables were among the most active broadcasters.

Not surprisingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, via the Israeli Consulate’s feed, called it “a victory for justice, freedom and common values of all democracies.”

Director Albert Brooks, characteristically, made great material of the news: “Bin Laden to St. Peter: ‘What do you mean they’re no longer virgins?’”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Seth Green, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Joe Lieberman, Osama Bin Laden, Elon Gold, Benjamin Netanyahu, Bar Refaeli, Albert Brooks, Twitter

Chatting With 'Fast Five' Star Gal Gadot

By Curt Schleier

Jamie Trueblood

Every high-speed action flick needs a scantily clad woman to help kick some criminal butt. In the case of the newly released “Fast Five,” that woman just happens to be a former Miss Israel. Model and actress Gal Gadot, a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and numerous magazine covers, plays Gisele Harabo in the film, which is the fifth installment in the canon of “The Fast and the Furious.” (Gadot’s character was first introduced in the fourth installment, “Fast & Furious.”)

The viscerally satisfying movie has already garnered its share of accolades: Its opening weekend brought in an astounding $83.6 million (making it the highest-grossing April film opening ever).

From Israel, Gadot spoke to the Forward’s Curt Schleier about the film role and a nagging magazine cover that continues to draw ire.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Vin Diesel, Israel Defense Forces, Gisele Harabo, Gal Gadot, Fat And Furious, Fast Five

Time Mag's Attack Against 'Jewish Food'

By Nathan Burstein

Criticize any national or ethnic cuisine and you’re spoiling for a fight.

So writer Josh Ozersky knows he’s stepping on a land mine when he writes, on the Web site of Time, that “Jewish food is awful.”

Having launched his attack, however, the Jewish Ozersky quickly retreats, clarifying that he’s limiting his discussion to “the familiar Eastern European Jewish food that most American Jews of my generation grew up eating: dry and flavorless brisket … [and] tasteless matzoh balls,” among other alleged atrocities. The piece goes on to explore what Ozersky sees as a paradox — Jews’ famous obsession with food and the fact that their own cuisine supposedly isn’t much good.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ashkenazi, Jewish Food, Matzoh, Ozersky, Time

Madoff Family Member Shopping Around Tell-All Book

By Nathan Burstein

Perhaps it was inevitable that someone in the Madoff clan would eventually write a tell-all.

If she gets her way, that family member will be Stephanie Morgan, the former daughter-in-law of Bernie and Ruth Madoff. New York magazine reports that Morgan is currently shopping a memoir to publishers, promising a story that portrays her as “strong-minded woman overcoming tragedy and moving ahead with life.”

The Shmooze didn’t initially like the idea of a Madoff family member profiting from Bernie’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme, which ruined many lives and did massive damage to numerous charities. But Morgan is at least partly a victim herself, since her husband, Mark Madoff, killed himself in December — a suicide allegedly caused by shame over his father’s crimes.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ruth, Ponzi, Mark Madoff, Madoff, Bernie, Stephanie Morgan

Israel Celebrates the Royal Wedding

By Nathan Jeffay

Getty Images

Welcome to Modi’in, the Israeli city that is so British that people drink tea at four o’clock, stand in orderly lines at the bus stop (unheard of in this part of the world) and play cricket. Well today, it became even more so.

One street in the city is today covered in red white and blue Union Flags, and people will shortly spill out to fulfill that old British tradition of the “street party” — an outdoor pot luck party where neighbors and friends celebrate national occasions together. The occasion, of course, is the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

People setting up the party, a Shabbat meal which starts soon, wished each other “mazalotov” like you do at a family wedding. There are even commemorative Grace After Meals booklets, as the organizers billed it as a “sheva berachot” — the traditional celebratory meal held in the days following a Jewish wedding.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Royal Wedding, Prince William, Modiin, Kate Middleton, British

A Brush With Aristocracy: The Day I Covered a Royal Wedding

By Jane Eisner

Alas, intrepid journalist though I am, I cannot finagle a way to cover this royal wedding, the Friday nuptials of William and Kate. But I sure remember being there the last time an heir to the British throne ceremoniously tied the knot, and that day — July 23, 1986 — was both my most aristocratic moment, and my most humbling.

Wikimedia

A handful of American correspondents based in London were offered seats in Westminster Abbey, for the wedding of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson, and I was one of the lucky ones. I had to buy a hat (one must always wear a hat in the presence of the Queen), the only time I was ever able to put such an item on my expense account. And I had to wear a long, fancy dress. Fortunately, the dress I had purchased for my sister’s wedding that following September — a gorgeous, hot-pink number, with a cut-out drape in the back — was already in my closet, and available.

So off I went that cool, drizzly morning, in my dress and hat, interviewing the famous and very famous guests as they arrived at the Abbey, in shiny black boat-like cars, dressed in gowns and morning suits and every kind of finery I’d ever imagined. Once the reporters were ushered inside the magnificent building, we were treated to the splendor of royal theatrics as only the British can do, elegant, sweeping and historic.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Wedding, Westminster Abbey, William, Royal, Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew, Kate

How To Monetize Christian Pilgrimage to Israel

By Josh Tapper

In 2010, over two-thirds of Israel’s 3.45 million tourists were Christian, and nearly half were self-proclaimed religious pilgrims. It’s rare to find a discriminatory tourism industry these days — dollars are dollars — and fortunately for Israel, the Holy Land is holy for a lot of folks.

Enter the Gospel Trail, the Israeli Tourism Ministry’s newest attempt to monetize Christian pilgrimage. The 40-mile path, located in the Galilee and set to open in May, enables tourists to trace the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples, hitting Tabgha, where Jesus fed the multitude, the Mount of Beatitudes and Capernaum, the site of his purported home on the Sea of Galilee.

According to the Associated Press, the Gospel Trail “includes New Testament quotes carved into stones along the path, shaded rest areas and picnic sites.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Christian, Gospel Trail, Holy Land, Israel, Jewish, New Testament, Tabgha

Military May Soon Get Atheist Chaplains

By Michael Kaminer

Christians have many. We Jews have a few. Muslims and Buddhists do, too, and the Hindus and Wiccans may soon get theirs. But despite the fact that 3,000 chaplains minister to the needs of active-duty service people in the military, none serve atheists.

That may soon change. “Groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military,” The New York Times reports.

Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, told the Times humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths.

“Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Torpy said. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Army, Atheist, Jason Torpy, Military, Shmuley Boteach

Anne Frank Gets the Musical Treatment

By Nathan Burstein

You’ve read Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl,” but what about her blog?

If you’re weirded out by the idea, you may not instantly love “Le Blog de Anne,” part of a promotional Web site for “Anne le Musical,” a song-filled new play about — you guessed it — the murdered Jewish teen.

Premiering today in Paris, the show has stirred controversy with its retelling of Frank’s famous story, in a production that includes rap, among other musical genres.

Somewhat miraculously, “Anne le Musical” turns out not to be in horrible taste, at least if French theater critics are to be believed. Hailed by Paris Match as a “great success,” the show was described by Le Figaro as “most stirring,” and as “a wonderful vocal performance” by Periscope.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Le Blog de Anne, Diary of a Young Girl, Chloe Horry, Anne Le Musical, Anne Frank

Things That Look Like Hitler: Mustache Edition

By Nathan Burstein

As The Shmooze has already observed, the people of the United Kingdom have a habit of seeing Hitler in odd places — from the facade of Welsh houses to their own pet cats.

Wikimedia

Now a small-town politician has spotted the Nazi leader — or at least his mustache — on one of his own political posters, leading to a minor controversy in Pitcombe, Somerset, a hamlet west of London.

Town councillor Mark Beech complained to police about the poster, which featured his own face and was later adorned with a Hitler mustache by an unknown vandal. Using the Public Order Act as justification, investigators made “house-to-house inquiries” at each of the town’s 20 residences, the Telegraph reported, an investigation derided by locals as “an outrageous waste of police and taxpayers’ money.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Somerset, Pitcombe, Nazi, Mark Beech, Mustache, London, Hitler



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