The Shmooze

PHOTOS: In Israel, Purim is the Biggest Party Ever

By Lior Zaltzman

Forget about Halloween! Purim is the real party in Israel.

Every year, thousands of children head to school dressed up in their finest costumes, their mishloach manot in hand. That goes for grown ups too (any excuse to tap into your inner child).

In cities across the country, big parades, called Adloyada, travel through town, showing off gorgeous floats, all to the sound of music and happy youngsters.

What does that all look like, you ask? Here are some festive pictures from across the Jewish state:

Politics on Purim: before the parade, an artist pastes the faces of Israeli politicians on traditional parade floats:

Getty Images


Getty Images


King Bibi!

Getty Images


An Adloyada in the streets of the Israeli city of Netanya:

Getty Images


Read more


What Did Jon Stewart Think About Bibi's Speech?

By Dave Goldiner

What did Jon Stewart think about Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress?

It’s kinda NSFW, so you better watch the video.

Apparently, the late-night funny man was not impressed with the multiple standing ovations that Bibi received from the Congress. He wasn’t amused by all the soaring rhetoric about Iran, either.

Read more


Bibi's Speech in 'Game of Thrones' GIFs

By Lior Zaltzman

Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech was full of biblical, literary and pop culture references from Haman to Robert Frost. But when he said:

“In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.”

… we knew a meme must be born! Behold, Netanyahu’s speech summed up in Game of Thrones GIFs:

When he kept addressing Congress as: “my friends…”


When Netanyahu spoke of the story of Purim:


When Netanyahu mentioned Ayatollah Khomeini and Mughaniah:


Read more


Legalize It With Meretz

By Lior Zaltzman

Getty Images

Is it possible that the Israeli left finally has something in common with Moshe Feiglin?

Earlier last month, Meretz put out an elections ad showing them as the lamest party ever — but today it seems like they’re finally ready to be one of the cool kids — by lighting up a joint.

Read more


Clickhole Wins the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

By Lior Zaltzman

Someone in the Clickhole (The Onion’s Buzzfeed-like equivalent) offices woke up yesterday morning with the most glorious of ideas: What better way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than through Facebook comments?

And so, the following message was posted to social media: “Want to argue about Israel and Palestine? Have at it in the comments!”

As you know, the conflict is a subject we deal with often. And well, when people have at it on our page, they really have at it — sometimes, it ain’t so pretty. Which is maybe why fellow Jewish publication Tablet has decided to charge people to comment.

But on Clickhole, the whole experience is kind of cathartic. I’m not sure whether I should thank their expert curation or if Clickhole Facebook users are just way more more respectful (unlikely), but the whole thing makes for a real enjoyable read (with the occasional inevitable troll). My husband and I lay in bed last night with our laptop, laughing our heads off at a subject that causes so many fraught and frustrating discussions in our day-to-day life. So, thank you Clickhole, for that precious gift.

Here are some choice comments:

Read more


Behind Scenes at Fashion Week With Yigal Azrouël

By Elyssa Goodman

Fashion Week is a hurricane that sweeps through the industry. The biggest shows happen twice annually, during the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections. Designers spend months creating their visions for the upcoming seasons, and in a single day, in mere hours, it’s all over: the beautifying, the catwalking, the flash of cameras and the crowds. Until next season, that is.

I recently had the pleasure documenting the Fall/Winter 2015 collection of Yigal Azrouël, an Israeli-born designer of French Moroccan and Jewish descent (who I also mentioned in my round up of Jewish designers presenting their collections this Fashion Week).

Take a look at what happens behind the scenes, just before models take off down the runway:

No improvisation here! All of the looks from the entire collection are photographed and assembled onto a board backstage. This way, people dressing the models know exactly how each outfit should be styled and in what order they should come out during the show.


Read more


A Chat With the Writers/Directors of 'Gett'

By Masha Leon

I don’t recall ever feeling as angry as I was after seeing “The Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” the blistering gut-wrenching must-see film by writer/directors Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz.

Warmly ensconced at The Regency Hotel during one of New York’s recent snow-ins, the Elkabetz siblings alternated in answering my questions about the film’s heroine Viviane’s (Ronit ) attempt to divorce her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian) following a 20-year untenable and loveless marriage. Not sure who angered me more: the rakhnomes-lacking didactic religious judges in the claustrophobic courtroom or the neighbors and relatives who, in Rashomon style, proffer their spin on the couple’s marriage that should long ago have been aborted.

“There are over 450,000 still open cases in Israel – some wait for twenty years to be adjudicated,” Shlomi told me. “It covers the full spectrum – every woman in Israel, secular or Orthodox, has to go through it if married and registered in Israel… There is a sense of God is punishing mei… Women are treated like property.” Commenting on the image of the Israeli woman as modern, a kibbutznik, soldier, bikini-clad beach lounger? Shlomi said, “When it comes to divorce there seems to be a democratic mantra – a gett is a gett.”

“The idea was mine,” volunteered Ronit. “I wanted to understand, to research…. it disturbed me. We had an idea to follow this woman’s life through different stages between herself and the state (Israel). But the woman’s place in this community is to submit…not show her hair, be modest.” Watching the film’s years-long delay after delay without a verdict, I flashed back to the film “Shawshank Redemption” in which, like Vivian, Morgan Freeman is asked year after year if he has repented yet and, irrespective of his reply, is denied parole.

I asked actor/director/writer Ronit – whom I first met in the delightful Israeli film “The Band Visit” – about her change of wardrobe when toward the film’s end– after years and years of soul numbing denials by rabbi-judges – the black-clad Viviane appears in court sporting a blood red shawl and flaunting her below-waist long loose hair. The film’s stark courtroom, Ronit told me, was actually much nicer than those it was modeled after. “She had no more energy,” said Ronit. “The red clothing revitalized her, woke her up. But she did not know that on that day she would be accused of being unfaithful. Caught between two rabbis she forgets herself…. it was not a provocation! Gett denied!”

“The reactions are different from age to age,” said Shlomi. “For young people it’s an occasion for rethinking about marriage …and a gett…. The Rabbinic court is so strong and political, but,” he told me: “Three hundred rabbis will be watching the film…the first time in Israeli history [they will] discuss the issues. It’s extraordinary.”

A winner of more than seven 2014 film festival awards – and most recently a selection at the New York Jewish Film Festival– “Gett” opens on February 13 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and other area theatres. Go! Applaud Ronit, tsk, tsk the judges and hiss her husband.

Read more


You Never Would Have Failed Hebrew School With This Teacher

By Avi Bass

You’ve never heard the Aleph Bet like this. A new music video released by Israeli artist Victoria Hanna flies through the sounds of the Hebrew alphabet with an energy you couldn’t imagine as your mom drove you to Hebrew school on Sunday mornings.

Hanna performs the various sounds in a rhythmic chant, dressed as a school teacher in front of a mesmerized class of girls. But then the video explodes into the alphabetic acrostic prayer of “hoshana”, traditionally recited in synagogues on Sukkot.

Victoria Hanna is the daughter of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, and has performed with Bobby McFerrin and the Israeli group Balkan Beat Box.

Read more


Israelis Pull Super Bowl All-Nighter

By Ben Sales

Getty Images

There were wings, beers, giant TV screens, and football fans wearing New England Patriots sweatshirts and Seattle Seahawks jerseys. If not for the fact that it was 1 a.m. and former Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid stood in the center of the bar, it could have been mistaken for Anytown USA.

Most Israelis don’t mark Super Bowl Sunday — or, really, Super Bowl Early Monday Morning — in any real way. But a group of Americans in Israel (and some Israelis who became acquainted with American football during stateside stints) showed up past midnight, an hour before the kickoff, putting off sleep and trying to forget about work the next day to watch the big game.

Elie Pieprz, who in 2012 founded a nonprofit to urge American-Israelis to vote in U.S. elections, came to see the game with his 11-year-old daughter, Eliana, in what has become an annual tradition for them. Father and daughter, pulling for Seattle, both wore Washington Redskins jerseys.

“We feel strongly about our connection to America,” Pieprz said. “We didn’t make aliyah to leave America. We’re bringing the best part of America to Israel.”

This Super Bowl party in central Tel Aviv was sponsored by Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, the centrist faction that for now boasts the Knesset’s only American lawmaker, Dov Lipman. Wearing a black sweater along with his trademark black velvet kipah, Lipman appeared chipper at halftime as Katy Perry ascended a robotic lion on a TV screen behind him.

“I thought to myself, there’s enough Anglos in Israel who want to watch, so why not watch it together?” said Lipman, who helped organize the gathering. “It’s not a political event. People are coming to watch the game.”

Some 200 fans attended the party, but most were surprisingly quiet for people who chose to pull an all-nighter to watch the big game. Aside from some hard-core New England fans in the center of the room, much of the crowd timidly cheered for the Seahawks.

Read more


Need a Baby-Sitter? Bibi's Your Man

By Anne Cohen

It looks like Benjamin Netanyahu has a new career path lined up — you know, in case the Israeli elections don’t pan out.

A new campaign ad released Saturday shows a couple getting ready for a night on the town. The doorbell rings. It’s the baby-sitter. Or is it?

“You asked for a babysitter, you got a Bibi-sitter,” says a smirking Netanyahu. “Where are the children?”

The parents, understandably confused as to what their country’s prime minister is doing at their door, ask Bibi why he should be the one to watch over their children.

It’s either me, or Tzipi and Bougie,” he replies, referring to Zionist Camp’s Tzipi Livni and Issac Herzog. Oh, no! Not them. The parents shake their heads, demonstrating their mistrust.

Herzog needs his own baby-sitter, the dad jokes. Zing. And Livni? “By the time you get back she’ll probably go over to the neighbors,” Netanyahu quips back. (Livni has skipped to and from four political parties).

The ad conspicuously shows no children. Netanyahu’s previous campaign ad, which showed him as the only adult in a kindergarten class full of children named after Israeli political leaders (subtle, Bibi, real subtle), was banned by the Central Election Committee. Showing children under 15 for political gain is a no-no.

Read more


Chelsea Handler Goes Topless For Middle East Peace

By Anne Cohen

So, Chelsea Handler went topless again.

This time though, it was all in the name of peace. Handler is currently in Israel to help raise funds to the Tal Center for Integrative Oncology the Sheba Medical Center. Apparently, the combination of desert, sunset and camel gave her the sudden urge to disrobe.

“A Muslim allowed a topless Jew to sit on his camel,” the caption reads. “And we say we can’t live side by side? I say we try and we can and we will. And, You don’t even have to be topless. L’chaim”

In October, Handler posted a similar photo to Instagram, mocking a picture of Russian president Vladimir Putin bare-chested on horseback. That caption read: “Anything a man can do, a woman has the right to do better. #kremlin”

[h/t Tablet]

Read more


It's Over. Israel's Wix Wins Super Bowl Ad War

By John A. Oswald

Tel Aviv-based web development company Wix.com has what we think is one of the funniest Super Bowl ads set to air this Sunday and it stars former Green Bay Packer Brett Favre and four other retired football greats.

Favre was the quarterback who just couldn’t quit the NFL. He retired, then unretired, then joined the Jets for one season and the Vikings for two.

The quarterback’s rep is seized on by the folks at Wix to tell their story and sell their cloud-based web page-making service.

Favre turns to his agent, “Entourage” actor Rex Lee (Lloyd), about making yet another comeback.

Favre: “What about Canada?

Lee: “Nope.”

Favre: “That indoor league?”

Lee: “Nope.”

Favre: “What am I gonna do?”

Lee: “Do what everybody else does. Start a business. Build a website.”

And that’s where Wix and its #ItsThatEasy campaign, comes in.

Read more


Israeli Busted For Hacking Madonna's Computer

By Maayan Lubell

Getty Images

(Reuters) — An Israeli man was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of hacking Madonna’s computer and selling the pop icon’s songs online, a private investigator involved in the case said.

Israeli police confirmed they had detained a man suspected of stealing the work of a number of international stars, but declined to name any of the possible victims.

In December, unfinished tracks were leaked from Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” album before its release, an act the singer described as “artistic rape” in a post, later deleted, from her Instagram account.

Asher Wizman, owner of the Wizman-Yaar investigation firm in Israel, said Madonna’s team contacted his company several weeks ago to look into the matter after rumors of an Israeli connection to the leak.

Read more


Natalie Portman Mocks Ryan Seacrest in Gaza Email Trail

By Lior Zaltzman

The recent Sony hack has left plenty of destruction in its path.

Yet, it also unveiled some incredibly random and hilarious information that we never knew we wanted (and I would argue, still aren’t sure we really need). Like the following chain e-mail correspondence about the war in Gaza, sent to prominent Jewish figures, Sony execs and celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Russell Simmons, Natalie Portman and…Ryan Seacrest?

On Aug 29, 2014, at 1:29 PM, “Ryan Kavanaugh” wrote:

The problem is that Moore ’ law is kicking in. Before the summer 50 percent of college students supported israel, today less the 25 percent do. There are hate crimes against heed happening in almost every major metropolitan city, now including the US.

We have let this happen. And it’s our job to keep another Hollacast from happening. Many of you may think that can’t happen, that is extreme. My Grandmother told me over and over again remember no one believed it could happen and everyone thought the government would not allow it to. It took 5 years before the us stepped in, and 12 million dead.

If you pull newspapers from pre Hollacast it seems eerily close to our world today.

Read more


7 Reasons Jews Should See the New 'Hobbit' Movie

By Hody Nemes

Bilbo Baggins enters Smaug’s lair in ‘Desolation of Smaug’ // Courtesy: LOTR Wikia

I’m a Tolkienite and a lover of everything hobbit. There, I said it.

As a child, I read — and reread — all the hobbit-related books, painted the Misty Mountains, set a Tolkien poem to music, and played the “Lord of the Rings” Risk board game whenever I got the chance. Theoden’s speech at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, playing on loop, gave me the courage to write my senior thesis in college (“Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise, Riders of Theoden!”). Now I read the series over again almost every year.

For Jewish hobbit folk like me, this is a big week: “The Battle of the Five Armies” is hitting theaters — and on Hanukkah, no less.

Here are 7 Jewish reasons why you should join me in seeing the end of Bilbo’s quest on the silver screen:

1) Erebor is Israel.

When I was a child, my father read two books to me before bedtime: the Book of Joshua and “The Hobbit.” I loved both books and pleaded with him to keep reading long after I should have gone to sleep. The two have become muddled in my mind — and with good reason: both describe great battles (the Battle of the Five Armies and the Battle of Jericho, for starters), magical wizard leaders (Joshua and Gandalf, duh), treasure hunts, and — most importantly — exiled peoples reclaiming their lands.

Read more


Cuddle Alert! Giant Pandas Coming to Israel

By JTA

The Chinese government has agreed to send two giant pandas to a zoo in Israel.

The gift will be conferred on the Haifa zoo if Chinese panda experts agree that the conditions in the zoo will be appropriate for the animals, according to Haaretz, including providing the appropriate food, which is a certain kind of bamboo. The zoo must also build a special habitat for the pandas.

A delegation from the Haifa zoo must also visit China to observe the rare animal, which is considered an endangered species.


Read more


Google Doodle Pays Tribute to Ofra Haza

By Sigal Samuel

The Israeli Google homepage pays tribute to Ofra Haza

Israelis visiting the Google homepage today got a fun surprise, in the form of a Google Doodle dedicated to the one and only Ofra Haza.

Haza, a famous Israeli singer of Yemenite Jewish heritage, died in 2000 of AIDS-related pneumonia. She was 42. Today would have been her 57th birthday.

Sometimes called “the Madonna of the East,” Haza was known for her unique fusion of Eastern and Western musical traditions — a style that managed to charm audiences in both Israel and Arab countries. Israeli musical heavyweights like Naomi Shemer and Ehud Manor contributed to her albums, and she later collaborated with everyone from Paula Abdul to Iggy Pop to Michael Jackson. In 1983, she won second place in the Eurovision Song Contest.

My favorite Haza single is “Im Nin’alu,” which became a huge international hit back in the eighties. This is the Haza I like best — her early stuff, the very strongly Yemenite-inflected music, from before she started singing in a more commercial Israeli vein.

The lyrics — ”Even if the gates of the rich are locked, the gates of heaven are never locked” — are taken from a poem by 17th-century Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, and always make me think of the ancient rabbinic saying, “Even if the gates of heaven are locked, the gates of tears are never locked.” Haza’s use of the flipped phrase reminds me of her modest upbringing: Before she became a world-famous singer, Haza was the youngest child in a Mizrahi family of nine, growing up in one of Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods.

Watch, enjoy, and join me in laughing at the way Haza’s producers (for some inexplicable reason) felt the need to roll the credits exactly halfway through the music video.


Read more


Jon Stewart Slams Jews for 'Sad' Narrow-Mindedness

By Raffi Wineburg


(JTA) — Jon Stewart is no stranger to harsh criticism. Some Jews have called him a self-hater, while the Iranian media has painted him as a Mossad agent. But “The Daily Show” host wasn’t on the receiving end Tuesday when he dished out some tough love to his fellow Jews.

In an interview with Canada.com to promote his new movie, “Rosewater,” the Jewish comedian commented on a number of things he found “troubling” with Judaism and the Jewish state.

“It’s so interesting to me that people want to define who is a Jew and who is not. And normally that was done by people who weren’t Jewish but apparently now it’s done by people who are,” Stewart said. “And you can’t observe [Judaism] in the way you want to observe. And I never thought that that would be coming from brethren. I find it really sad, to be honest.”

He went on to describe certain Jewish behavior as “fascistic.”

Asked whether he could criticize Israel, Stewart’s answer was a resounding “No.” Although that’s not a new revelation.

Read more


Professor Sprout Calls Israel 'Stupid'

By Rachel X. Landes

Looks like Professor Sprout has stepped out of the Hogwarts greenhouse — right into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Miriam Margolyes, who played the matron of the Hogwarts greenhouses and Head of Hufflepuff house in the “Harry Potter” franchise, spoke out about the recent war in Gaza to Radio Times, a British television and radio magazine.

According to Haaretz, the actress, who was raised Jewish and grew up in a Jewish household in Britain, said, “I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected and Israel’s behavior is not acceptable.”

Margolyes observed that, “there’s been a troubling backlash” against Jews as a result of Operation Protective Edge.

In Belgium and France, rioters shouted “Death to Jews!” In Germany it was, “Gas the Jews!”

Britain itself saw a fivefold increase in calls to the country’s anti-Semitic hotline. July alone saw 240 calls, up from the previous average of roughly 50 a month in the first half of 2014.

“Anti-Semitism is horrible,” Margolyes said, “and can’t be defended, but Israel is stupid for allowing people to vent it,” she said.

“I don’t think many people like Jews,” she added.

But don’t worry, it’s not all bad. After all, Margolyes continued, “I’m lucky they like me, and one always needs a Jewish accountant.”

Maybe someone should lay off the mandrake potion from now on…

Read more


3 Can't Miss 'Humans of New York' Photos From Israel

By Rachel D. Benaim

New York’s favorite hipster photographer, Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York (or HONY, to those in the know!), just published a selection of portraits from his recent “unscheduled side trip” to Israel.

The photos, posted on his Humans of New York Facebook page, are no different than his other work: they are not politically driven — they just capture a snapshot of regular people’s lives. Israelis and Palestinians shared their hopes and dreams with Stanton as he roamed in and around Jerusalem.

Check out a few of our favorites below:


Read more



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.