The Shmooze

Glenn Beck Gears Up For Big Jerusalem Show

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Glenn Beck’s back in Israel this week, in a trip that will conclude tomorrow with a program held at Jerusalem’s Davidson Center, not far from the Western Wall. This is the second visit by Beck since the end of his inflammatory run as a host at Fox News, and the first since July, when he was warmly greeted by right-wing members of the Knesset.

Struggling for relevancy in the U.S. since the end of his Fox News show in June, Beck hasn’t drawn significant attention from regular Israelis — despite effusive expressions of support for the country, and his decision to weigh in last week on ongoing social protests across the country. (Ready as usual to employ polarizing, highly questionable language, he compared the mostly middle-class demonstrators to communists.)

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When Circumcision Becomes Amputation

By Nathan Burstein

iStockphoto

The Shmooze can think of at least one guy who won’t be performing a bris anytime soon.

John Patterson, a doctor at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky., is in court this week, facing a lawsuit for amputating a penis during what was intended to be a circumcision. He’s being sued by Phillip Seaton, who’s already reached an undisclosed settlement with the hospital out of court.

Patterson was supposed to circumcise Seaton in 2007 because of “inflammation” — but says he amputated the tip of his patient’s penis after discovering a potentially fatal form of cancer during the procedure.

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Israeli Pop Star Margol’s Mug Shots Leaked

By Renee Ghert-Zand

According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2 News, someone is going to be in big trouble. And it’s likely going to be someone working in the Israeli Prison Authority.

Apparently, someone has leaked mug shots of Israeli singer and celebrity Margalit Tzanani (often referred to in the Israeli press by the nickname Margol) taken at the time of her arrest last week on the suspicion that she blackmailed, threatened and extorted her manager. The possibility that she was also involved in fixing the outcome of the Israeli “American Idol”-style show “Kochav Nolad” has been batted around in the press since her arrest.

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Jon Voight Visits Terrorism Victims at Soroka Hospital

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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He’s known to many as the father of superstar and international do-gooder Angelina Jolie, but Jon Voight is also recognized as a longtime supporter of Israel. The actor made a Chabad-sponsored trip over the weekend to Israel, surprising victims of last week’s terrorist attacks and the ongoing missile barrages from Gaza with a visit to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva.

Voight told reporters who met up with him at the hospital, on his way to cheer up the critically wounded victims, that this was his third visit to the country, and his second to the South. He specifically mentioned that he had been in Sderot last time and had to take cover there when an alarm sounded, so he knows what the security situation for residents of the Negev is like.

The actor emphasized that Israel needs friends, and that he thought that the U.S. should be Israel’s best friend. He has been a vocal advocate for Israel, having appeared at a rally in Los Angeles last year condemning Turkey’s role in the Flotilla incident, and having written a letter to President Obama accusing the Administration of abandoning Israel.

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NYC Slashes Funding for Folksbiene Yiddish Theater

By Michael Kaminer

Under a rather unfortunate headline alluding to chopped pork, the New York Daily News this weekend reported that the “venerable” Folksbiene Yiddish Theater will lose a $5,000 earmark from New York City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Queens).

The 96-year-old Folksbiene — “the last Yiddish company to still play to huge audiences in Manhattan’s lower East Side,” according to the News — tops a list of 52 groups “that have had their City Council-sponsored pork-barrel items suddenly yanked back.”

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‘Twilight’ Star Kristen Stewart Discovered Singing Dreidel Song

By Nathan Burstein

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Lana Turner was supposedly discovered at a soda shop while skipping school. Natalie Portman attracted attention while eating pizza on Long Island. And “Twilight” star Kristen Stewart? She was singing about a dreidel.

That’s the story Stewart is sharing in the new issue of W magazine, in which she says a holiday play was the first step on her path to Hollywood.

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Meet the Two Most Popular JDaters

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

iStockphoto

Apparently, it’s a nice smile and friendly energy that’ll get you noticed on JDate. The New York Post rounded up New York City’s most popular online daters (based on the number of messages in their inbox) — and pinpointed two JDaters — Alla Kellerman, 34, and David Fischer, 39.

Kellerman, who says she’s looking for a husband on the site, has 392 messages in her inbox. Many of her would-be suitors comment on her nice smile. But what does she look for in a man? The first thing is a photo: “If you don’t have a photo, then I won’t even click on you,” she tells the Post. Once she likes a photo, she says she checks out a guy’s height and occupation.

Fischer, who says he uses online dating to open him up to people outside his social circle, has 334 messages in his inbox, which he attributes to the “friendly energy and good vibe” his photos offer. He responds to about one out of 10 people, and active types — Cameron Diaz and Mila Kunis look-alikes, especially — are welcome.

The Shmooze wishes Fischer and Kellerman the best of luck in finding their besherts. Might the two hit it off?


Michele Bachmann’s Letter From the Kibbutz

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

The Shmooze experienced a twinge of guilt last month when it poked fun at Michele Bachmann’s mispronunciation of “chutzpah” during an interview on Fox News. Yes, her use of the word may have been a shameless attempt at pandering to Jewish voters. But was it really fair to expect a Protestant from the Midwest to know Yiddish?

In the case of Bachmann, at least, the answer turns out to be yes!

The GOP presidential candidate spent time on a kibbutz during the mid-’70s, but apparently didn’t absorb much in terms of the local language. (No, Yiddish isn’t the language of Israel, but “chutzpah” has certainly made it into the local lexicon.) In a letter, Bachmann conceded that the locals had better language skills, admitting she “[felt] so stupid” next to Ziva and Hagar, young kibbutz residents who “can speak English so well.”

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After Delay, Jerusalem's New Light Rail System Opens With Many Kinks

By Renee Ghert-Zand

For those of you who drive in Jerusalem, you know that pedestrians just stepping out into the street without looking can be a big problem. Well now it could end up being an even bigger problem as the city’s new light rail system finally starts running today, after years of delay.

The system, which is opening years behind schedule, still has many kinks to work out. They include air conditioning issues, electrical and communications glitches and the operation of the ticketing system — the latter leading to the declaration that passengers will ride free for the first two weeks.

Another problem not completely solved is

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UK Soccer Website Gives 'Jewish Star' To Those Who Donate Least

By Renee Ghert-Zand

The Jewish Chronicle in the UK reports that an Arsenal football (that’s soccer to us Americans) team fan website is kicking up an anti-Semitic controversy. The fan forum, called We Are The Herd, is posting Stars of David next to the names of site members who have paid the least in the ways of membership dues and donations.

We Are The Herd claims to be an alternative fan organization that eschews what it reportedly views as the overly politically correct atmosphere that football officials are trying to create around the sport. Football has been notoriously connected to racism and anti-Semitism, especially among the fans in the stands.

The British Jewish community’s Community Security Trust, which fights bigotry, anti-Semitism and terrorism, issued a statement condemning this activity. A spokesman was quoted as saying, “This kind of casual and pervasive anti-Semitism is quite disgusting. Arsenal fans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, must intervene to stop this kind of nonsense.”

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Video: Ehud Barak, Israeli Minister of Camera Angles?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Some Israelis are suggesting that Ehud Barak’s portfolio be changed from Minister of Defense to Minister of Camera Angles, after he was caught on camera giving stage directions to the commander of the IDF’s Southern Command as he briefed the press on the terrorist attacks earlier today near Eilat.

As Major General Tal Russo was giving a detailed description of the terrorists’ incursion into Israeli territory and their attack on a public bus and private vehicles, Barak was caught on video interrupting the commander. “Tal, you don’t understand these things. You need to look over there at the cameras,” Barak said as he pointed to said cameras. Then he chuckled. It can be imagined that Russo, who continued his debriefing without reacting to Barak’s comments, was not amused. Neither was an aide, standing behind Barak, who could be heard admonishing the Minister, “There’s already a director here, you know.”

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Sarah Silverman Gets Her Own NBC Sitcom

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

The Shmooze is surprised but pleased to learn that author, TV star and famed bedwetter Sarah Silverman will star in a new comedy on NBC.

The subject of an “intense bidding war” among several networks, the show will be loosely based on Silverman’s own life — as was her previous show for Comedy Central, “The Sarah Silverman Program.”

The new series, which will be co-written by Silverman and two collaborators from that earlier show, will likely be read as a take on her relationship with Jimmy Kimmel, the late-night TV host she dated for years. The unnamed new series will follow Silverman as her character rebounds from a decade-long relationship. Based on her previous TV show, stand-up routines and political activism, the Shmooze expects lots of Jewish content on the new show.

The bigger question is how Silverman will translate her controversial comic style to network television, which is tame compared to many of her racially and sexually charged past routines. But we have high hopes, and look forward to seeing what Silverman comes up with.


Rabbi Seeks Young Wife (For His Health!)

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Older man seeks a new, younger wife. The scenario sounds familiar, but this time it’s not for the usual reasons.

Rabbi Craig Ezring of Boca Raton, who serves a number of nursing home and assisted living facilities in South Florida, announced on his blog that he was seeking a new, younger wife. Why? So that he could reduce his health insurance costs, which had recently risen by 38% to $18,636.

Ezring and his late wife, who died four years ago, had acquired health insurance through a small corporation they held jointly. Following his wife’s death, his insurance costs surprisingly went up, rather than down.

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No Joke: Letterman Threatened by Jihadist Website

By Nathan Burstein

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“Lowly Jew” David Letterman must die!

That’s the pronouncement of jihadist website Shumukh al-Islam, which sentenced Letterman — a Protestant — to death because of a joke he made about the killing of Ilyas Kashmiri, a top al Qaeda official who died in a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan.

Shumukh al-Islam — which apparently watches late-night talk shows? — suggested supporters “cut the tongue of the lowly Jew and shut it forever,” also referring to Letterman as a “sick Jew with defined features.” (Perhaps they had been discussing Howard Stern with Andy Dick and got confused?)

The FBI doesn’t know of any specific plans targeting Letterman, but is reportedly investigating anyway. Letterman is currently on vacation, and his production company is not commenting on the issue.

Jihadist threats are no laughing matter, but the Shmooze nevertheless suspects Letterman will wring a good “Top 10” list out of this after his return.


Too Big For Broadway: ‘The Bible,’ the Musical

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images
Director Philip William McKinley

Coming soon to an arena near you: the Torah!

A big-budget adaptation of the Old Testament will tour the United States starting in late 2012 or early 2013, reports entertainment website Deadline Hollywood. The show, simply called “The Bible,” is being helmed by Philip William McKinley, the director who stepped in to save the massively overbudget “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” on Broadway earlier this year.

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Underground Speed Dating for Tu B’Av

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Léon Bazille Perrault's "Cupid's Arrows," via Wikimedia Commons

There was romance in the air in — or, rather, below — Jerusalem earlier this week on Tu B’Av, often referred to as the Israeli Valentine’s Day. Youth for Jerusalem, an organization encouraging young, secular Israelis to stay in or move to Jerusalem, hosted a speed dating event last Sunday evening in Zedekiah’s Cave, an ancient quarry site underneath the Old City.

Many of the 60 or so attendees were game to meet successive dates for only a few minutes each, in the hope that the timeless atmosphere would lend them luck for this very contemporary mating ritual.

Famous early dwellers of the city, like King David and King Solomon for instance, were not lacking for (multiple) wives (or concubines), so shouldn’t a young Israeli today be able to find at least one soul mate in the same location?

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Howard Stern Calls Out Andy Dick For Anti-Semitic Remarks

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Howard Stern knows a Dick when he sees one.

The self-proclaimed King of All Media lashed out this morning at actor Andy Dick, who trotted out multiple anti-Semitic cliches during a rant against the radio host.

Dick, whose TV credits include the sitcom ”News Radio,” described Stern as a “money-grubbing Jew” earlier this week on “The Greg Fitzsimmons Show” on satellite radio. He said his issue is not with Stern’s “big fat hook nose,” or his “his money-grubbing, miserly Jewishness.”

But money does in fact seem to be part of the problem, with Dick apparently unhappy that Stern didn’t pay him in the past to appear on his radio show. (He was also upset the Stern hung up on him on the air earlier this year.)

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A Widow's Ongoing Quest To Expose BBC’s ‘Anti-Israel Bias’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Fiona Paveley is not letting her late husband Steven Sugar rest in peace, and she thinks that is exactly what he would have wanted her to do. In fact, she believes that he — and she — will ultimately rest easier if she does not give up the legal battle against the BBC that Sugar was waging while he was alive.

For six years, Sugar, an attorney, fought to have the BBC publish the contents of a 20,000-word internal report about its news coverage of the Middle East, which he was sure was full of information pointing to an anti-Israel bias within the organization.

Sugar died from cancer in January at the age of 61 after losing his bid to have the report disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act at the Informational Tribunal, High Court, and Court of Appeal levels. His wife is taking the case to the Supreme Court.

The BBC has spent more than $440,000 to keep the contents of the report, written in 2004 by BBC journalist Malcolm Balen at the request of the company’s news director, from going public. It fears that a decision against its position on this report could lead to a slippery slope of more demands for disclosures, and more cost to the BBC to fight such demands.

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Four-Year-Old Wasn’t Deported From Israel, After All

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Late last night, a 4-year-old girl named Ofek and her mother, Nancy, were taken off a plane at Ben-Gurion airport just as it was getting ready to take off for the Philippines. The two were not tourists planning a vacation to the Far East, but rather a family set to be deported from Israel. An eleventh hour legal stay allowed them to get off the plane and live — at least a bit longer — in Israel.

Her mother entered Israel on a legal work permit, and Ofek was born in Israel. The little girl’s first language is Hebrew, and she has never set foot in the country of her mother’s birth. However, because she has not yet finished kindergarten in the Israeli school system (the 4-year-old is set to begin pre-kindergarten this fall), she does not have the right to stay in Israel, according to Interior Ministry policies.

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Israeli 'American Idol' Judge Arrested

By Nathan Burstein

Wikimedia Commons

Forget Hamas, forget the massive housing protest. Right now Israel’s attention is squarely focused on Margalit Tzanani, a major music and TV star who has been jailed on charges of extortion.

Best-known in recent years as a judge on the Israeli version of “American Idol,” Tzanani was arrested at her home this morning, in a surprise raid. The singer will spend tonight in jail, and will appear tomorrow in court, where prosecutors will attempt to prolong her detention as the investigation continues.

A star so big she’s generally referred to simply as “Margol,” Tzanani is suspected of hiring thugs to intimidate and extort a talent manager, Assaf Atedgi, with whom she is fighting over hundreds of thousands of shekels in royalties. The 57-year-old singer and her lawyer have categorically denied the charges, noting that she and Atedgi have hired a mediator to settle the dispute.

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