The Shmooze

Carnegie Deli Names Sandwich After Judy Gold

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Getty Images

Comedian Judy Gold is following in the footsteps of Henny Youngman and Woody Allen, with a Carnegie Deli sandwich named in her honor.

Gold, who’s starring in the one-woman, off-broadway show “The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom,” provided inspiration for the Gold E. Lox (get it?) — a bagel with cream cheese, lox, tomato and creamed onions, served with a side of creamed herring. It’s a sandwich Gold’s been eating since the “fancy bagel breakfasts” of her childhood. “It’s my favorite sandwich in the whole world,” she said.

And for $22.95, you too can give it a try.

For a Jewish New Yorker, her very own Carnegie Deli sandwich is a pretty big deal. “You know, it’s kind of like the Jewish version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” she said.


Introducing the ‘Jewish al-Jazeera’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Jewish news junkies will be pleased to know that they will very soon be able to get TV news covering Israel and the Jewish world 24/7. On September 21, Jewish News 1 will go on the air and reach viewers in North America, Europe and the Middle East via satellite.

The network is already being dubbed “the Jewish al-Jazeera” for its aim to gain the attention of Jews all over the globe, just as its Arabic-language counterpart has won the hearts of Arabs spread out in different countries.

Jewish News 1 will have its headquarters in Brussels, but will also have studios and correspondents throughout the world. It already has studios in Brussels, Tel Aviv and Kiev, and will soon open ones in London, Paris and Washington.

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Why Are Some People Born Without Fingerprints?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

With all the heightened security and anti-terrorism measures in place these days, we are all pretty sick of bureaucratic problems at border crossings. But people with “Immigration Delay Disease,” however, face a unique challenge when traveling from one country to another.

Those with “Immigration Delay Disease” (its scientific name is adermatoglyphia) have no fingerprints. In fact, they don’t have dermatoglyphs, or ridges, on their palms, toes or soles of their feet, either. Aside from confounding border crossing officials and police detectives, this condition has also confounded the medical and scientific community.

But now, researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by Prof. Eli Sprecher, have worked with colleagues at the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, to solve the mystery of the missing fingerprints.

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iTunes Classifies Jewish Music as Christian

By Renee Ghert-Zand

It looks like iTunes must have been snoozing during Comparative Religions 101. The Jerusalem Post found that the world’s largest online music and video vendor doesn’t seem to know the difference between Jewish and Christian music. Or maybe it just doesn’t care.

The newspaper reported that it found most popular Jewish singers’ songs and albums were classified as “Christian and Gospel,” and that there was no separate category for Jewish music. Some Jewish songs were listed in the “World Music” section of the iTunes store.

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Obama Makes New York Magazine Cover as ‘First Jewish President’

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Barack Obama may be America’s “first Jewish president,” this week’s New York magazine cover provocatively suggests.

The publication sets the phrase in quotation marks, placing it over a cover photo of Obama’s kippah-wearing head. The accompanying article — entitled “The Tsuris,” and written by staff political analyst John Heilemann — looks at at Obama’s relationship with both Israel and American Jews. Is the latter group truly up for grabs in next year’s election because of the president’s Middle East policy, as some Obama critics suggest? The article explores the issue via interviews with commentators on both sides, taking its cover quotation from Obama supporter and former White House counsel Abner Mikva, who in 2008 joked, “When this all is over, people are going to say that Barack Obama is the first Jewish president.”

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Israeli Military Snubs Domestic Shofar Merchants

By Nathan Burstein

Deror Avi, via Wikimedia Commons

Israel’s shofar merchants consider it a low blow, but the country’s defense ministry isn’t backing down.

Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported Friday that local shofar sellers are red in the face over a decision by the defense ministry to purchase 150 of the rams’ horns from suppliers in China and Morocco. Going abroad for the shofars — which will be used in military ceremonies — will save the ministry, and by extension Israeli taxpayers, 4,500 shekels, or about $8 per shofar, according to the snubbed Israeli suppliers.

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Quadriplegic Israeli Tennis Player Eyes Paralympics

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Wikicommons

Serious tennis fans have likely heard of Israeli players like Shahar Peer and Andy Ram, but it’s safe to bet that most are not familiar with Noam Gershony, despite the fact that he is higher ranked than the others.

Gershony, a quadriplegic, plays wheelchair tennis. He is ranked third in the world in wheelchair quad singles, and ninth in doubles. Just this past week at the US Open Wheelchair Competition at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., Gershony defeated David Wagner of the US, 6-3, 6-1 during a three-day round robin tournament. Wagner is the world’s No. 2 singles player and No. 1 doubles player.

According to a report by Howard Blas in the Jerusalem Post, Gershony, a 24-year-old from Kfar Sava, took his first ever tennis lessons just shortly before being paralyzed in a crash of the Apache helicopter he was flying during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

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Flying El Al? Better Pack Your Own Sandwich

By Nathan Jeffay

If you’re planning on flying El Al, pack your own sandwiches. The airline has reportedly announced that it is cutting the number of flight stewards in tourist class by one steward in flights of up to four hours and two in longer flights.

El Al employees are furious with the company’s chief operating officer and other top officials. “They don’t know what service is, they don’t know how to say please and thank you,” El Al workers committee chairman Yossi Levy told the business publication Globes.

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Johansson and Kunis Exposed by Hackers

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

For people who keep track of these things — and naturally, The Shmooze is far too refined for such behavior — today is the second straight day that private photos of a major Jewish celebrity have been released by hackers.

Yesterday’s victim was Scarlett Johansson; today’s is Mila Kunis. Both appear to be victims of a hacking ring devoted to releasing personal photos of young female celebrities. Earlier casualties include “Gossip Girl” star Blake Lively, bad-movie staple Jessica Alba and former Disney princess Vanessa Hudgens. The FBI is apparently investigating the Johansson hacking.

Other than Kunis and Johansson’s respective backgrounds — the latter’s mom is Jewish, so we’ll claim her — there’s nothing “Jewish” about this scandal. And of course the family-friendly, high-minded Shmooze would never post — or even glimpse at — the leaked photos, which in Kunis’s case are reportedly far tamer than her “Black Swan” scenes with that other Jewish goddess, Natalie Portman.

We merely bring these facts to your attention during our brief breaks from studying the Talmud and reading Joyce and Keats.


Israel Will Re-enact Space-Age Experiment

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Wikimedia Commons
Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon

Israel will be trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records next week. Of course, Israel is often seen as a place of extremes, but this attempt at record-breaking has nothing to do with the usual political headlines or social disagreements.

As a nice distraction to what many fear will be a rough few days next week as the Palestinians seek statehood recognition at the United Nations, hundreds of Israelis will gather at various universities, science institutions and museums around the country September 22 to simultaneously conduct a science experiment that the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon did in space. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center is located, is spearheading the project.

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Meet Josh Bernstein, the Next Teen Pop Idol

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Josh Bernstein has got an amazing set of pipes, and he is using them to his advantage in the Kidz Star USA Talent Search, under way right now. The 14-year-old student at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md., is one of four finalists in the competition sponsored by KidzBop.com.

This morning, Bernstein appeared along with the other three finalists on the “Today Show” together with Kris Allen, a mentor and judge for the contest. Allen found fame as the 2009 winner of “American Idol.”

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Israeli Man Is Seven Months Pregnant

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

Mazel tov — it’s a boy! Not the baby, but the person giving birth.

That’s right. If the news broken by Yediot Ahronot is correct, a man is to have a baby.

Apparently, a 24-year-old Israeli who had a female-to-male sex change operation went to a hospital on Sunday and told doctors that he’s pregnant. According to the report, he sports a goatee and is married to a man.

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Video: The Rosh Hashanah Rock Anthem

By Eileen Reynolds

Remember that peculiar Kia commercial with hamsters dancing to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”?

Not exactly an instant classic — but the Shmooze does appreciate Aish.com’s new Rosh Hashanah-themed remake of that song. With lines like “Three times a day I’m shucklin’ shucklin’, shucklin,” and “Stand up, sit down, pass the prayer books around,” the tongue-in-cheek music video serves as lighthearted primer on the Jewish New Year. Sure, the music’s a bit insipid, but the dancing — increasingly elaborate hip-hop moves performed by a group of yarmulke-clad young men — just about makes up for it.

Watch the ‘Rosh Hashanah Rock Anthem’:


ESPN Cracks Down on Anti-Semitism in Fantasy Football

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

It’s not just Arsenal football fans in the U.K. who are using their websites to spread anti-Semitism.

Here in the U.S., ESPN was alerted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center that people were setting up fantasy (American) football teams with names like “Jews are Immoral,” “Jews are Terrible” and “Jews Love Pennies” on the ESPN website.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told USA Today that he was alerted to these names when a Jewish father went to sign his son up to participate in fantasy football. “They may have been fantasy leagues but the hate is all too real,” Cooper said.

ESPN responded quickly to the complaint and removed the teams immediately. “Offensive hate speech like the examples discussed here have no place on our site. While we have systems in place to protect against inappropriate team and league names clearly with millions of users and deceptive ways around the safeguards, we can never completely eliminate it,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.


Sex Toys Sold Modestly

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

It’s got the goods, just not the suggestive photographs to go with them. And that is exactly the way KosherSexToys.net thinks it should be catering to the sub-sector of the Orthodox public interested in shopping for sexual aids and fetish gear.

Those in the market for these kinds of things can find a nice selection of lubricants, vibrators, clamps, beads and blindfolds for sale for competitive prices on the website. The furry handcuffs are reportedly a big seller.

What’s the big difference between this site and other ones selling the same kinds of products? It’s all in the presentation. Whereas other sites have raunchy photos with explicit visuals depicting how these items might be used, KosherSexToys.net just sticks to the facts. You’ll see photos of the merchandise with accompanying descriptions using language that would not shock the average adult.

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Former NBA Star To Coach at Jewish Day School

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

A former NBA All-Star has landed an unlikely coaching gig — at a Jewish prep school in Florida.

It sounds like the set-up for a movie, but it’s true: Former professional point guard Kenny Anderson has signed on to coach boys’ basketball at the David Posnack Jewish Day School in Davie, Fla., a town located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Anderson got the job after receiving an invitation via Twitter from Jay Doobrow, the father of two students at the school.

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Hasidic Biker Gang Spreads the Word on Wheels

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

It’s time to let go of the incorrect assumption that all ultra-Orthodox Jews try to turn away as much as possible from the outside world. You’d be wrong to think that all of them spend every waking moment at serious study, prayer and work.

It turns out, at least in some cases, that Haredim just want to have fun. In fact, some of them are downright daredevils.

First, there was the recent profile in the New York Post and other outlets of the Rebbe’s Riders, Lubavitcher motorcyclists who do kiruv (religious outreach to fellow Jews) on wheels. “The Riders…say their love of choppers gives them something in common with Jews who might have strayed onto the Highway to Hell,” according to the Post. These guys still wear black — only they’ve traded their kapotes (long coats) for padded leather jackets.

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Would Bar Refaeli Ever Date Prince Harry?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

If the latest rumors about Prince Harry are true, Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli’s dad is going to have to learn to keep his temper in check.

What do the 57-year-old Rafi Refaeli and the 26-year-old who is third in line to the British throne have to do with one another? More than you might think. It turns out that they both have a common interest in beautiful Bar.

The Jewish Chronicle has asked whether the model, also 26, is on “the Kate Middleton path” in light of gossip reports in Now magazine that Harry is chasing her. Has he personally called her for a date? No. But he has asked his aides to track her down and set up a meeting between them. The word is that she has not expressed any interest. The Shmooze guesses that she, as a proud Israeli, is not into guys who show up at costume parties dressed as Nazis.

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'The Great Gatsby' and Religion Swapping

By Nathan Burstein

Shooting is under way on the new Hollywood version of “The Great Gatsby,” and director Baz Luhrmann has made several interesting choices, including casting.

The Australian director behind “Moulin Rouge” has cast Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan in the role of Meyer Wolfsheim, a shady Jewish character based on real-life criminal Arnold Rothstein, whose most infamous fraud was fixing the 1919 World Series. Entertainment Web site shockya.com says picking Bachchan is a savvy business choice, since it’ll greatly expand the film’s appeal in the actor’s native India. This isn’t the first time the pseudo-Rothstein and his associates have inspired notable casting choices: one of Rothstein’s real-life partners, the Jewish gambler Nick Arnstein, was played by Omar Sharif in “Funny Girl.” That role, as a Jew opposite Barbra Streisand, got Sharif in trouble in his native Egypt.

Also in the cast of the new film is Isla Fisher, a convert to Judaism playing one of “Gatsby’s” famous upper-crust WASPs. Fisher’s playing Myrtle Wilson, mistress of the odious Tom Buchanan — and looks pretty great in a ’20s-style ‘do on the set.

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Howard Lutnick on 9/11 and Remembering What Is Important

By Renee Ghert-Zand

We all have 9/11 memories etched into our brains, and it’s funny how your mind can play tricks on you.

On September 11, 2001, I was beginning my first year as director of education at Park Avenue Synagogue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The next day, when the scope of the devastation was becoming clearer, the senior staff was called in for an emergency meeting. Given that so many of our members worked on Wall Street, we were bracing for news of many deaths within our community.

Fortunately, it turned out that very few synagogue members lost their lives — though almost everyone had been touched by the tragedy in some way.

One quick-to-emerge piece of Park Avenue Synagogue 9/11 lore was that the life of Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, had been spared by a stroke of luck. Lutnick had been at PAS that morning, dropping off his son for his first day at the synagogue’s nursery school, at the moment the plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center.

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