The Shmooze

Stephen Harper Serenades Bibi With 'Hey Jude'

By Ben Harris

(JTA) — On his first trip to Israel this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hit all the expected stops for visiting dignitaries. He went to Yad Vashem and the Western Wall, picked up an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University, and laid the cornerstone for a bird sanctuary that will soon bear his name.

But he also took a moment to do something that is apparently his trademark: performing a rocking rendition of “Hey Jude” as a beaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, look on. When he announced his intention to visit Israel at a JNF fundraiser in Toronto in December, he performed for a full 35 minutes.

His audience in Israel wasn’t nearly so, um, lucky.

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Drake's 'SNL' Bar Mitzvah

By Anne Cohen

Drake hosted “Saturday Night Live” this week — and it was pretty great.

In his opening monologue, the Jewish Canadian rapper harkened back to his bar mitzvah from 1999, focusing (successfully) on having a Jewish mother and a black father. SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer (known for her role in the original and recurring Bar Mitzvah Boy skit) played his mother and Jay Pharaoh played his father.

After talking about his hometown, “the city of Toronto: where the rappers are polite, and the mayor smokes crack,” and waxing nostalgic about his “Degrassi” past (do we detect a hint of embarrassment?), Drake launched into the skit with the fairly straightforward: “Here’s another fun fact. I’m Jewish.”

Warning: the sight of Drake in a kippah may just make your heart explode. Check out the segment below:

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Drake Really Loves the Toronto Raptors

By Anne Cohen

If you thought being named global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors was just another title for Drake, think again.

The Canadian Jewish rapper just released a promo video for the basketball team’s new season, and it is seriously inspirational stuff. Check it out:

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Doctor Says Circumcisions Should Be Delayed Until Age 11

By Nathan Burstein

As the perpetual battle over circumcision continues, a Canadian doctor is proposing an interesting compromise — but one that would preclude the procedure as it’s performed according to Jewish tradition.

Writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Noni MacDonald is suggesting that the surgery be conducted only on boys of 11 or 12 years of age. Her rationale is that, from a medical standpoint, there’s no need to perform the procedure earlier, since the health benefits of circumcision — such as lowering the risk of HIV infection — only kick in when a boy becomes sexually active. By early adolescence, she argues, boys are better able to make their own decisions about whether to undergo the surgery.

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The Top Hebraic Moments of the Canadian Grammys

By Michael Kaminer

Getty Images

“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.

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Canadian 'Jersey Shore' Knockoff Under Fire Over Anti-Semitic Comments

By Michael Kaminer

It didn’t seem possible to make MTV’s inexplicable smash “Jersey Shore” look like “Masterpiece Theatre.” But a Canadian knockoff called “Lake Shore” — set to start production next spring — has done just that with a slur-laden “sizzle reel” aimed at building early-stage buzz, according to Canada’s National Post.

The eight-minute promo includes gems like this, according to the Post, from one Sibel Atlug, a 23-year-old loud-mouthed woman cast as “the Turk”: “I’m not racist because I hate everybody equally, especially Jewish people.” The comments come “during a mud-flinging free-for-all in which cast members share first impressions of their future housemates,” the newspaper said.

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Canada Halts Mail to Gaza

By Josh Tapper

First it was building materials, now it’s the mail.

In the latest international Gaza blockade spat, Israel’s national mail carrier, Israel Post, told the Canada Post last week it would not deliver Canadian mail to the Strip, citing circumstances “beyond their control.” It’s not known what caused the mail stoppage.

Just days after the embargo was announced, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers issued a statement of solidarity with Gazans, pledging to get residents their mail. Moreover, the CUPW voiced support for Canada Boat Gaza, which plans to send an aid ship through the Israeli blockade this fall.

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