The Shmooze

Kim Kardashian Blurred Out by Ultra-Orthodox

By Allison Kaplan Sommer (Haaretz)

Where’s Kim? An ultra-Orthodox web site photoshopped out the image of the reality star eating dinner with her famous hubby Kanye West and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Just about every part of Kim Kardashian has probably been exposed to the world by now, between her infamous sex tape, reality television, and most recently, the photographs of her famed hourglass figure that “broke the Internet.”

For most of the media, the more of herself Kardashian shows off, the better. But one Israeli publication that reported on the Jerusalem visit by the reality show celebrity and her rapper husband Kanye West wasn’t interested in exposing her, but covering her up as much as possible.

The ultra-Orthodox website “Kikar HaShabbat” doctored a photograph of the famous couple in a Jerusalem restaurant to hide Kardashian not once, but twice in an article published on Tuesday. Once, her image was covered up by a restaurant bill superimposed onto the picture - in another - she was pixelated into fuzzy oblivion. Even her name was not published in the newspaper - she was referred to only as “singer Kanye West’s wife” - all in the name of extreme modesty.

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Baptize North in Jerusalem

By Maia Efrem

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In a quick visit to Jerusalem, reality TV star Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West had their toddler daughter, North West, baptized on Monday at a 12th century Armenian church in the old walled city.

Dozens of fans mobbed an SUV that took the couple, their 22-month-old child and Kardashian’s sister Khloe to the church, the girl and her father decked out in holy white and Kardashian in a long crinkle pleated beige and peach colored outfit.


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Why Did Jill Duggar Name Her Son Israel?

By Anne Cohen

Jill Duggar with baby Israel // Facebook

Let’s get something out of the way. There is nothing Jewish about the Duggars.

And yet, Jill Duggar, the 23-year-old daughter, and fourth child in the family who brought you TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” has chosen to name her newborn son Israel David.

Israel may seem like a strange choice — but given that the Duggars are devout Independent Baptists (they have filtered Internet service and consider that to show one’s thigh is akin to “nakedness and shame”), maybe it’s not so surprising. But why, WHY, is Derick Dillard wearing an Israel Defense Forces t-shirt in the announcement photo?

Come on, guys. As Leah Finnegan over at Gawker writes: “You don’t see Jews going around naming their babies YMCA Bible Camp.”

Religious connotations aside, the name is an interesting choice in a family known for naming all their kids with J-names. No really, all 19 of them: Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedediah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace and Josie.

Duggar, who married Derick Dillard on June 21, 2014 in front of 1,000 of their nearest and dearest, is a midwife in training. She told People Magazine that she had planned two due dates, March 24 and April 5. (Close, but no cigar!)

The elder Duggars, now proud grandparents Jim Bob and Michelle, had planned for a home birth, but People reports that little Israel was born in a hospital, at 9 lbs., 10 oz. Still, they’re not complaining.

“We are so thankful for a healthy Mom and baby!” they wrote on their official Facebook page. “Love this sweet baby Israel! We are happy grandparents and we promise more pictures soon!”

Craving more details? Don’t worry. You’ll be able to watch baby Israel’s birth on TLC come May 5. Next month in the Holy Land, Duggars!

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Who Buys All That Hametz?

By Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Ever wonder how the Israeli government gets rid of its chametz, or leavened foods, at Passover?

For the past 15 years it has been symbolically selling all the chametz from state-owned companies, the prison service and Israel’s national emergency supply to Hussein Jabar, an Arab-Israeli resident of Abu Ghosh. It then buys it all back after the holiday is over. The price tag? $5,000.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acting as finance minister attended a ceremony, along with Jabar and Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu said, “I am always moved by this ceremony that symbolizes the continuity of our people and the revival of our state, and our aspiration for peace, security and prosperity for all Israelis and the Jewish People.”

Abu Ghosh Mayor Jabr Issa, who also attended the ceremony said, according to the statement:“I would like to take this opportunity to wish our cousins, the Jewish residents and citizens of the State of Israel, and Jews all over the world, a happy Passover. We rely on the Prime Minister and wish him success both in forming the next government and in leading the State of Israel and the people of Israel toward prosperity and success in all fields.”

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'Salem''s Moral Compass Is a British Jew

By Anne Cohen

No Jews were burned as witches in Salem witch trials. But with the second season of “Salem,” set to premiere April 5, that may soon change.

WGN America’s first originally-scripted series is a supernatural drama which marries the history of Puritan America with sex, blood and witches. What’s not to love? The show focuses around Mary Sibley and John Alden, lovers, who, separated for nearly seven years by war, find themselves on different sides of the Salem Witch Trials. You see, Mary is a witch.

Iddo Goldberg plays Isaac Walton, Salem’s voice of reason, forced to skulk on the sidelines and bury the bodies of the unwanted after being branded a “fornicator.” After witnessing a black magic ritual, he becomes a target of the town’s growing witch-hunting frenzy.

The Forward’s Anne Cohen caught up with the British-Israeli star to talk about what to expect from the new season, what’s it’s like to work with his wife (Ashley Madekwe, who plays Tituba on the show), and why he loves Passover.

Anne Cohen: How did you come to be on the show?

Iddo Goldberg: I actually auditioned for a guest role on [‘Salem”]. Originally, I auditioned for the role of Cotton Matther, and although I was very good, they wanted me for a different part, and I really connected with the part of Isaac. It was kind of just a guest part, but I got it. And my wife, Ashley, auditioned for the part of Tituba. She actually found out that she was on the show first, so when I heard that she got her part, I kind of thought that it wasn’t going to happen because I kind of assumed that they weren’t going to have us both in the same show. So when I got the call it was kind of a bonus bonus bonus type situation. And then we went to Shreveport and shot the pilot. Pretty much by the second episode, they asked me to be a regular on the show. And obviously I jumped at the chance.

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What Does Trevor Noah Think About Israel?

By Gabe Friedman

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(JTA) Many late-night comedy fans had the same reaction Monday morning when it was announced that Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old South African standup comedian who is relatively unknown in the United States, will replace Jon Stewart as the next host of “The Daily Show”: Who exactly is this guy?

Viewers had been calling on Comedy Central to appoint someone well-known like Tina Fey or the fan-favorite “Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams to succeed Stewart (overall, the insistence on having a female host in the male-dominated world of late-night comedy was also a constant).

However, some hard-core “Daily Show” fans may recall Noah’s three memorable appearances as a correspondent on the show starting in December of last year, in which he skewered American (and more generally Western) views and stereotypes of Africa.

Noah, born to a black South African mother and a white Swiss father (when interracial relationships were illegal in apartheid South Africa), is already a star in his home country, where he has filmed several standup specials. In 2012 and 2013 he became the first South African comedian to perform on “The Tonight Show” and “The Late Show with David Letterman” respectively, and in 2012 he was the subject of a documentary called “You Laugh But It’s True.”

Amid all of the anticipation surrounding Noah’s surprise appointment, fans are already keenly interested in his views on the hot-button political topics that Stewart has never been afraid to address – especially the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

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8 Israeli Bands to Listen to Right Now

By Hilary Saunders

Vaadat Charigim // Photo by: Goni Riskin

Israel has never been known for producing breakthrough musical acts, but if the first few months of 2015 are anything to go by, that may soon change. With Israeli groups traveling to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest and gaining recognition at a number of European festivals, the little country the size of New Jersey may end up with a pop music reputation after all.

Here are eight bands from Israel — encompassing genres from shoe-gaze rock to electronica to country-tinged pop — that are worth checking out right now.

1) Vaadat Charigim

Having just “killed it” — as the phrase du jour has it — at South by Southwest, Vaadat Charigim is now prepping for a short U.S. tour in support of its sophomore release. “Sinking As A Stone,” due out on May 19 via California-based Burger Records, showcases the Tel Aviv trio’ shoegaze propensities. The trio’s 2013 debut, “The World Is Well Lost,” elicited comparisons to groups like Slowdive and Ride, even with all songs sung in Hebrew.

Listen to their newest single, “Ein Li Makom,” off “Sinking As A Stone “here:

Learn more here.

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Kanye West and Kim Kardashian To Visit Israel


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Kanye West and Kim Kardashian reportedly are planning to visit Israel next month.

The celebrity power couple booked rooms at Jerusalem’s high-end Waldorf Astoria Hotel for themselves and their entourage for April 12, the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot reported Wednesday.

The hotel declined to comment to Yediot, which reported that everyone involved in the visit has signed a multimillion-dollar confidentiality agreement. An Israeli security firm that specializes in protecting VIPs has been hired, according to the newspaper.

The couple reportedly is visiting Israel before flying to Jordan.

Reports emerged in January that Kardashian and her two sisters were planning to buy a Tel Aviv apartment worth $30 million.

Meanwhile, American actor Richard Gere reportedly will arrive in Israel next week to continue filming for the “Oppenheimer Strategies,” a project by Israeli director Joseph Cedar. The project recently wrapped up its New York filming.

Gere stars as the title figure, Jewish businessman Norman Oppenheimer, a small-time operator who befriends a young, down-and-out Israeli politician. Oppenheimer’s life is transformed when the politician rises to international prominence.

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What Bibi Really Wants To Tell You

By Jesse Lempel

Want to know what Benjamin Netanyahu really wants to say? Jesse Lempel offers an unvarnished version of the Israeli premier’s message to American Jews

To My Friends in the U.S.,

After receiving my congratulatory phone call and delightful shmooze with my close friend President Obama, I have chosen to reach out to you on the pages of my beloved Jewish Daily Forward.

Now let me cut to the real talk.

Some of my critics have cited my “outright rejection of a Palestinian state” and “racist rant against Israeli Arab voters” as evidence that I don’t deserve to represent Israel. What nonsense.

Yes, I said that there won’t be a Palestinian state under my watch and I warned Israeli voters that Arabs were being bussed to the voting booths by leftists. So what? I live in reality, and the reality of the Middle East is far different from Europe or America.

I look around and see an inherently unstable Middle East, with states disintegrating one by one and radical Islam on a rampage. So why should we believe a Palestinian state would be different?

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Sarah Palin Congratulates Bibi

By Ron Kampeas

(JTA) — Sarah Palin has not one but two posts on her Facebook page congratulating Benjamin Netanyahu on his reelection. Maybe two makes up for none from President Barack Obama.

In each post Palin says Americans in the heartland “will sleep better knowing Bibi remains the voice of reason and strength in the beautiful nation of Israel.”

Bibi elicits a lot of reactions in Israel and abroad. Sleep, though, has to be a new one.

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Why Jon Stewart Is Really Mad at 'Racist' Bibi

By Anne Cohen

Jon Stewart is kind of mad at Bibi. Not so much for winning this week’s Israeli election, but rather for how he won.

“How dare you gin up racist fears of minority turnout for short-term political gain? Stewart said, referring to Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear-mongering campaign, warning that Israeli-Arabs were out voting in droves.” “That’s our thing! You know what? Now you’ve got a copyright infringement suit on your hands, pal!”

Our favorite Jewish funny man (* sob * Don’t leave us Jon!) had a word or two of advice for U.S. politicians: Want to win? Take a page out of Bibi’s election tactics book.

“You know that stuff you say in private, your core beliefs, your prejudices that you try to hide from people because you fear society would shun you?” Stewart said. “Well, it appears all you have to do is turn into that skid.”

Following a montage showing a bunch of confused people asking why President Obama hadn’t yet called to congratulate Bibi on his win, Stewart quipped: “You don’t call, you don’t write, I win an election and I have to sit by the phone?”

Watch the whole clip below:

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Hadash Mocks Bibi's 'Arab Vote' Comment With Amazing Meme

By Anne Cohen

Earlier today, Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “concern” over what impact the high turnout rates in Israel’s Arab communities could have on the election.

So the Hadash party, one member of the Joint (Arab) List responded with an amazing “Game of Thrones” meme. (For those of you who haven’t gotten around to watching this gem of a show — Get to it! — the text plays off an oft repeated quote from the show: “Winter is Coming,” and superimposes Bibi’s head on Ned Stark’s body.)

Well played.

[h/t Times of Israel]

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Buji Has a Serious 'Pretty Woman' Crush

By Lior Zaltzman

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Isaac “Buji” Herzog could be Israel’s next prime minister. As such, he may have some very difficult decisions to weigh on in the near future. But when it come to the ideal woman, Buji doesn’t hesitate. He will happily profess his love for the one and only “Pretty Woman” — Julia Roberts.

“‘Pretty Women’ is the movie I like to watch when I’m having hard times.” he told Channel 10 on Tuesday.

This isn’t the first time he’s declared his feelings for the actress. When asked to choose between the Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli and Julia Roberts in an interview for Israeli TV, he made the unfortunately unpatriotic choice:

“I’m sorry, but for men of my generation, Julia Roberts is the ideal woman. ‘Pretty Woman’ is a classic.”

(Fast forward to minute 18:40!)

And that’s not all. In an interview for the Knesset channel, Herzog also said he enjoys watching TV with his wife: “We’re really into Sex and the City”.

Well, I know who I’m inviting for my next ice-cream and comfort TV sesh. And if you squint really really hard, doesn’t Buji start to look a tiny tiny little bit like Richard Gere?

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Jon Voight: 'President Obama Doesn't Love Israel'

By Anne Cohen

Jon Voight wants you to know that, unlike Barack Obama, he REALLY loves Israel.

In a video released to the masses on Sunday night, the actor claims that the President is an enemy of the Jewish state (in a “friends of my enemies” kind of way), and that Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents are pulling a Neville Chamberlain.

“I want to see Israel survive and not be overtaken by the madmen of this world,” Voight says. “President Obama does not love Israel. His whole agenda is to control Israel. And this way he can be friends with all of Israel’s enemies…America has not been the same since his presidency.”

“Those like Yitzhak Herzog who believe that dealmaking is the solution to what Israel faces are as wrong as Neville Chamberlain believing he made a peace deal with Hitler,” Voight adds, referring to Bibi’s main opposition. “We must learn from history where the true danger lies.”

Using appeasement to make your case. That’s original.

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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:

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King Bibi!

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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