The Shmooze

Is Amar'e Stoudemire Looking For a Hebrew Tutor?

By Anne Cohen

He has part ownership of an Israeli basketball team, sports a yarmulke before games and thinks Shabbat is “awesome.” Now, it seems Amar’e Stoudemire is ready for the next step: learning Hebrew.

According to an email making the rounds, the basketball star is looking for a tutor:

Please let me know if you have any connections to a Hebrew tutor who could work with a professional athlete that is looking to improve their conversational Hebrew. The tutor would need to spend most of the next 6 weeks living in Florida with the athlete and then continue to work with the athlete back in NY after the summer. Obviously all expenses and a generous salary would be included.

A few lingering questions: If the email does in fact refer to Amar’e Stoudemire, does this mean his Israeli citizenship is coming through? Could he be planning a move to the Holy Land?

Of course, Knicks fans might prefer Stoudemire spend his summer working on his defensive skills, but that’s another story.

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I Got Text From Hamas — in Broken Hebrew

By Ben Sales

Facebook

(JTA) — I just got a text from someone who’s trying to blow me up.

“The stupidity of your leaders put all of Israel under fire, and forced all the Israelis to go into shelters,” it said, sent by a user named SMSQASSAM. “We will continue bombing every place in Israel until they answer all of our legitimate claims with total affirmation.”

It was signed, “The Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades,” Hamas’ militia.

Hamas is texting me. Awesome.

This isn’t the first time. Hamas has hacked Israeli phones several times during this and other times of conflict, sending messages to tens of thousands of Israelis.

I don’t know for sure if I can credit Hamas with this, but a text I got Friday from someone named SHABAK informed me that a “Suicide bomber sneaked into Tel Aviv and Center targeting shelters. Beware of strangers in shelters.”

Leaving aside how one suicide bomber could target more than one bomb shelter, I’m guessing that text wasn’t from the Israel Security Agency, called the Shabak. Maybe it was from Hamas.

Two days earlier, I got a text from a user named “Haaretz” informing me that rockets had hit Haifa. They hadn’t. The Haaretz newspaper sent out an email titled “URGENT CLARIFICATION” telling us that “The message was not from Haaretz.”

Was it from Hamas?

I’m not going to respond; I’m not the biggest fan of text-messages. I prefer phone conversations, even if they’re short. But I’m not going to call Hamas, and judging from this past week, it’s probably not going to call me. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what it writes me next.

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Brian Welch's Eye-Grabbing Tattoo

By Anne Cohen

Ouch.

Brian “Head” Welch, former guitarist for Korn, posted an interesting picture to Instagram this weekend: a close-up shot of his eye, with the Hebrew word Shekhinah, or “God’s presence on Earth,” tattooed on his eyelid.

“Dear mom and dad,” the caption reads. “You’re really not gonna like this tattoo. My apologies.”

Welch left Korn in 2005 to pursue a solo career, but officially rejoined the band in May 2013 — way to make an entrance!

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Mariah Carey Speaks Hebrew on 'Idol'

By Renee Ghert-Zand

We all knew that Mariah Carey can sing, but what we didn’t know was that she can also speak Hebrew. Well, at least she knows three expressions—and can use them correctly.

Shira Gavrielov

Carey surprised us when she greeted American Idol contestant Shira Gavrielov, the 23-year-old daughter of Israeli singer-songwriter Miki Gavrielov, with a friendly “Shalom.” She also appropriately threw in a “Shana Tova,” given that the audition was taking place early in the new (secular) year.

And then once Gavrielov wowed the judges (especially Nicki Minaj, who gushed about Gavrielov’s being a superstar in the making) with her soulful rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” Carey sent her off stage with an encouraging “Sababa!” — leaving us to wonder where she picked up this Israeli slang word for “Cool!”

This time around, the singer definitely showed significantly more advanced Hebrew language skills than she did with her “L’chaim” tweet from last year. What’s next for the diva? A year of ulpan on kibbutz?

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Video: Jack Black Shows Off in Hebrew

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Like so many parents these days, comedic actor and musician Jack Black is having a lot of stress about getting his kids into a good school. Last week, he told Conan O’Brien that he recently resorted to some desperate measures — well, at least desperate Jewish word dropping — to impress the admissions people at a local Jewish day school (he said “Hebrew school,” but from the context, it sounded like he was not talking about an afternoon school).

Asserting his right to “take my kids there,” even though he’s an atheist (“I’m technically a Jew, you know. And my wife is too.”), Black admitted to the talk show host that he was feeling pressure. So, Jack Black being Jack Black, he “put on a bit of a show.”

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Elijah Wood’s Mysterious Ring (No, Not That One)

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

It’s been quite a while since you’ve been able to assume that someone wearing jewelry or other adornments with Jewish symbols or Hebrew writing is Jewish.

Just think about all those Kabbalah red-string bracelets around the wrists of celebs like Madonna, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. And what about Justin Bieber’s new Hebrew tattoo he got while in Israel? (Okay, it says “Yeshua,” which means Jesus. But hey, it’s still in Hebrew.)

Unlike us, these stars did not get their Jewish bling from their bubbes (didn’t we all get our first Chai and Magen David necklace from our grandmothers?). In most cases, though, they did get it from Jews or in relation to a Jewish experience.

But that, however, is not always the case. This month’s American Way magazine (available online or in the seat pocket in front of you) features a close-up shot of actor Elijah Wood sporting a hard-to-miss silver band imprinted with “Im lo achshav aymatai” (“If not now, when?”) on the ring finger of his right hand.

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Introducing ‘Judoku’: Sudoku for Jews

By Penina Kessler

“Oy Vey! Is this a mishuga game or what!” That’s the reaction game developer Andrew Charon hopes you’ll have, at least.

Charon is the mastermind behind Judoku, a Jewish-themed version of the popular Sudoku puzzle. Instead of simply lining up the numbers one through nine in that familiar 81-cell matrix, puzzle-doers can choose to arrange Hebrew letters or Jewish symbols instead.

Judoku is available from the Mac App Store for $1.99. Its distinct and mildly irreverent icon — a cartoon man with peyes and black hat — is in keeping with the lighthearted spirit of the game.

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Natalie Portman Names Son ‘Aleph’

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Getty Images

She’s an A-list actress who’s given her son an A-list name. According to reports, the Jerusalem-born Natalie Portman has named her son Aleph, after the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

In Kabbalah, Aleph represents the oneness of God.

In her native Israel, Natalie Portman (nee Natalie Hershlag) is a national treasure.

So it’s fitting that her son’s name was first reported in the Israeli newspaper “Israel Hayom.” Portman and fiancé Benjamin Millepied have kept a very low profile since having their son in June, and haven’t confirmed reports about the name.

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David Duchovny’s Hot (Hebrew) Cable Commercial

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

David Duchovny doesn’t appear to know Hebrew, which is part of what’s amusing about the actor’s latest TV commercial.

The “Californication” star is now appearing on Israeli television in ads for Hot, one of the country’s major cable providers. The commercial, which appears to have been filmed in Tel Aviv, begins with Duchovny missing an Israeli pal’s wedding — apparently because he’s been held up by female fans Eden and Merav, who’ve been watching him constantly via their Hot cable package. “Instead of being at my best friend’s wedding, I’m here all day on your TV,” he kvetches to the two women, who are apparently admirers of his Showtime series. (Don’t try to understand the logic; it’s a TV commercial.)

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Evangelical Group's Attempt To Convert Dominique Strauss-Kahn Misfires

By Nathan Burstein

iStockPhoto

If he’s getting bored under house arrest, accused sex offender Dominique Strauss-Kahn can at least look forward to receiving some Hebrew-language reading material.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, who pleaded not guilty yesterday to sexually assaulting a maid in a New York City hotel, was the intended recipient of a package of “Hebrew books” sent by a group targeting Jews for conversion to Christianity.

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In Jerusalem, Proposed Bill Would Replace Arabic Place Names With Hebrew

By Nathan Jeffay

No doubt you’ve heard about the ongoing protests in Sheikh Jarrah and the famous hummus of Abu Gosh. Soon, mentioning these place names on Israeli state television and radio could become illegal.

The right-wing firebrand Tzipi Hotovely, the youngest lawmaker in Knesset, has initiated a bill that would rename these Jerusalem districts with Hebrew appellations. In areas for which a Hebrew name already exists, this would be used instead.

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Hebrew Ink: Justin Bieber's New 'Yeshua' Tattoo

By Nathan Burstein

A month after his first visit to Israel, Justin Bieber has gotten a Hebrew tattoo.

The 17-year-old pop star showed off the new ink during a visit to Hawaii with his girlfriend this week. (Because that’s what normal 17-year-olds do: get tattoos and go to Hawaii with their girlfriends.)

The letters spell out “Yeshua,” or Jesus, in Hebrew.

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'Live Long and Prosper': Mr. Spock's Hebrew Hand Gesture

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Who could forget Mr. Spock’s trademark hand sign on “Star Trek”? It turns out that the distinctive salute was based on the Hebrew letter shin.

That’s the story behind the gesture, says Leonard Nimoy, who played the half-human, half-Vulcan character for decades in the various TV and film incarnations of “Star Trek.”

In an appearance last week at a synagogue in Maryland, Nimoy recalled explaining the need for a special greeting for the character. “Humans shake hands. Asian people bow to each other … What do Vulcans do?” he remembered asking a director.

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Name of Sacha Baron Cohen's Baby Revealed!

By Nathan Burstein

Actress Isla Fisher is taking this whole Judaism thing seriously.

The “Wedding Crashers” star and her husband, “Borat” comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, have reportedly named their second child Elula, after the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar. The name is a female form of Elul, which usually falls in the late summer or early fall. The name is not one the Shmooze has heard before — even in Israel — although Sivan, the third month of the Hebrew calendar, is a fairly common girl’s name.

Elula joins an older sister, Olive, who was born before her mother’s conversion to Judaism.

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Charlie Sheen Demands Apology From ADL

By TMZ Staff

Crossposted From TMZ

Courtesy of TMZ

Charlie Sheen claims he doesn’t hate Chuck Lorre because of his “Jewishness” … he hates him for other reasons … and now Sheen is lashing out at a Jewish organization for insinuating he’s an anti-Semite.

Sheen is still furious with the Anti-Defamation League for saying the actor exhibited “borderline anti-Semitism” when he referred to the “Two and a Half Men” creator by his Hebrew name, Chaim Levine.

Now, Sheen’s lawyer — legal pitbull Marty Singer — has fired off a letter to the ADL demanding a retraction… because Sheen’s only intention was to “address the man rather than his television persona.”

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Hebrew Is Guy Ritchie's Secret Language of Love

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Hebrew seems to be the language of love for Guy Ritchie and girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley. According to Hello magazine, the ex-Mr. Madonna and Ainsley speak to each other in Hebrew when they are out in public and want to keep their conversation private.

Ritchie is already fluent in Hebrew (at least he got something out of his marriage to Kabbalah-following Madge). But Ainsley told Hello! she’s been studying the language every day. “Initially it was difficult as the characters are so vastly dissimilar to English characters and there are two alphabets to contend with. I believe you can learn anything you want if you are determined — one hour a day can go a long way,” she said. To that we say: Tov meod!

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Ashton Kutcher Schools Natalie Portman on Judaism

By Katherine Clarke

Getty Images

Who knew he was so dedicated?

Ashton Kutcher reads the Torah every Saturday. That’s what Natalie Portman said of her co-star in the upcoming romantic comedy “No Strings Attached” during a recent interview.

Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, noted that Kutcher taught her more about Judaism that anyone else in her life.

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Lohan and TMZ Photographer — He Blew The Hebrew

By TMZ Staff

Crossposted From TMZ

Lindsay Lohan got a hard lesson in bad Hebrew today — when our gentile photog tried to spit out a question in native Jew tongue … and totally futzed it up.

As LiLo made her way to an L.A. gym, our guy tried to ask a Passover-inspired question about why she believes her latest stint at rehab is different from all the others — “Why is this night different from any other night?”

The Hebrew is supposed to sound like this, “Mah Nishtana Halayla Hazeh.”

Instead, our guy asked something that sounded like this, “Mnashtaoihaloi”

Lindsay was understandably confused.

Read more at TMZ.com

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Israeli Scholar Translates Talmud Into Hebrew, Completing 45-Year Project

By Nathan Burstein

Like Israelites wandering a desert, a good Talmudic translation apparently can’t be rushed.

After more than four decades of work, Israeli Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz finally released a new Hebrew translation of the Talmud this week, a project he’s worked on since the Johnson administration.

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Israeli Artist Takes Venice Film Festival Award

By Nathan Burstein

A movie combining a sexual fetish with elements of Jewish folklore and Israeli foreign policy has won a prize at one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

“Tse” (“Out”), a 34-minute project by Israeli video artist Roee Rosen, took home the Orizzonti Award for medium-length films at the Venice Film Festival on September 11, claiming its place alongside such festival winners as Sofia Coppola.

Performed in Hebrew and Russian, the film includes a central scene that features two women acting out “dominant” and “submissive” roles, with the first striking the second as part of a sexual game. In contrast to other, er, films on this sort of theme, the second woman responds not with monosyllables, but with complete sentences — each of which are verbatim quotes previously spoken by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s right-wing foreign minister. “Thus, a scene of erotic pleasure and pain becomes an exorcism,” according to the film’s official description in the festival program. The program goes on to say that the movie offers a contrast between “the present rhetoric of the Israeli right” and the country’s “free-spirited sexual community.”

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