The Shmooze

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Talk Talmud

By Anne Cohen

It was a Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert lovefest last night as the comedian appeared on “The Colbert Report” to promote his new film, “Rosewater.”

Colbert, who let’s remember, got his start on “The Daily Show,” threatened to expose some dark secrets about what goes on behind closed doors. Jon Stewart’s response was to do a pretty impeccable Jewish sage impression.

“I’m going to say something to you, and you know this,” Stewart quipped. “Behind closed doors I only quote rabbinical texts. You know that. There is no dark secret, there is no hidden agenda, I am merely an arbiter of biblical law.”

Laughing, he added: “If you want to have a Talmudic discussion, I’m happy to have it.”

Please comedy gods, make it so.

Watch the whole clip below.

[h/t Tablet]

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Stacy London Wants to Give You a 'Make-Under'

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Dust off those 360 degree mirrors, ladies — Stacy London is back to clean out your closet.

The co-host of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” which ended in 2013 after a 10-season run(RIP) has signed on for a new show, People Magazine reports. And yes, it’s still fashion-focused.

Called “Love, Lust, or Run,” the new series shows London giving “make-unders” to women who just have waaay too much going on in the makeup/clothes department (I nominate Snookie!).

“I’m super excited to be back,” London told people. “I was burnt out after What Not to Wear. It was a good amount of time for me to take off. I rested and did a lot of traveling, it was amazing!”

“It was an easy thing to say yes to,” she added about her new show “Everyone here is like family and it felt like the right time.”

“Love, Lust, or Run” premieres Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. on TLC.

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Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Racist Jokes

By Anne Cohen

If you’re anything like me, you spent a good part of the early aughts nose deep in a truly depressing series of books.

I’m referring of course, to “A Series of Unfortunate Events” which tells the woeful tale of a trio of orphan siblings trying to escape the clutches of the devious Count Olaf. Well now, Jewish author Daniel Handler, who wrote the books under the pen name Lemony Snicket, has his own very real series of unfortunate events to write home about.

At a ceremony announcing the winners of the National Book Award last night, Handler made an unfortunate joke while presenting the award for young people’s literature to Jacqueline Woodson, a black woman and author of “Brown Girl Dreaming.”

I told you! I told Jackie she was going to win. And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned this summer, which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind.

And I said you have to put that in a book. And she said, you put that in a book. And I said I am only writing a book about a black girl who is allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornell West, Toni Morrison, and Barack Obama saying,”This guy’s okay. This guy’s fine.”

The offensive attempt at humor referenced a racist trope that black people like watermelon. The backlash was almost instantaneous.

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Justin Bieber Hangs With L.A. Rabbi

By JTA

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Pop star Justin Bieber spent three hours meeting with a rabbi in Los Angeles.

Bieber on Wednesday visited the Westside Jewish Community Center, the celebrity news website X17.com reported.

The singer “is on a spiritual journey,” according to X17, and reportedly has stopped using drugs and gotten rid of his entourage.

Bieber reportedly was scheduled to spend two weeks with a Christian pastor but apparently cut short his visit. The Christian Post reported that he was “learning how to spread the Word of God.”

Though raised primarily in his mother’s Christian faith, Bieber’s has a connection to the Tribe through his on-again-off-again father, Jeremy, who is Jewish. The pair snapped a pic while on a 2011 trip to Israel, showcasing their matching Hebrew tattoos.

In April 2013, Bieber was criticized for writing in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam that he hoped she “would have been a Belieber.” He visited the museum before playing a concert in nearby Arnhem.

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Diane Von Furstenberg's $12M Push To Restore Venice Ghetto

By Anne Cohen

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The world’s oldest ghetto is about to get a makeover.

Jewish-German designer Diane von Furstenberg is launching a $12 million initiative to restore the 500-year-old Venice Ghetto, i24 News reports. Von Furstenberg is spearheading the project, which would include rebuilding the neighborhood’s various synagogues, with real estate investor Joseph Sitt and other philanthropists contributing.

The ghetto was created in 1516 by the Doges of Venice as an alternative to expelling Jews from the city entirely. When the renovations are completed (reportedly in 2016, just in time for the 500th anniversary), the ghetto will become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“As much as this renovation is about preserving the past and the rich history of the Venetian and Jewish communities, today is about the future,” Von Furstenberg stated. “All of us are responsible for making sure that future generations – 500 years from today – have access to these stories of human culture and progress.”

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That French Dude Who Climbed Brooklyn Bridge? He's Jewish.

By Anne Cohen

“The dog ate my homework.” “I didn’t know he/she was married.” “I called, but you didn’t pick up.”

All these are better excuses than: “Sorry officer, there was no sign in French saying I couldn’t climb the Brooklyn Bridge.”

And yet, that’s what French tourist Yonathan Souid is trying to claim. The 23-year-old was caught trying to scale the iconic New York bridge on Sunday — the third such attempt this year. The NYPD quickly spotted Souid, and ordered him down.

Now, he’s facing up to a year of jail time on charges of trespassing and second-degree reckless endangerment, the New York Post reports.

His American friends are claiming that it’s really not Souid’s fault. After all, he only wanted to get an epic photo. “There were no signs in French saying you can’t climb the bridge,” said defense lawyer James Medows. “He acted like a foolish tourist.”

“Souid comes from a small Jewish community near La Rochelle. It was such a misunderstanding. He has a strong passion for photography, so he thought, ‘I want to get a better view.’ He’s not a daredevil,” his friend Jeff Sternfeld, 24, told the New York Post. “There’s a cultural barrier. To him and people in France, they said, ‘They put him in jail for this?’”

Souid arrived in New York on Thursday and was supposed to return home on Sunday. An acquaintance told the Post that he was traveling as part of a Chabad trip. Now, it seems he’ll have to stick around and wait for his court date. As they say in France, c’est la vie.

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Theodore Bikel Turns 90, Parties With Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Anne Cohen

Moment Magazine’s Nadine Epstein, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Theodore Bikel // Credit: Lloyd Wolf

Theodore Bikel, who played Tevye and Captain Von Trapp on Broadway before they got all too cool for school in Hollywood, celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday.

Over 250 guests attended the party hosted by Moment Magazine at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. Our favorite Notorious Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg also made an appearance. (Check out her outstanding blue caftan, above).

According to the Washington Post, Bikel looked pretty “spry for a nonagenarian,” and proceeded to entertain the crowd with renditions of “Edelweiss,” from “The Sound of Music” and “If I Were A Rich Man,” from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

I’ll just be over here practicing my karaoke face — for next year, you know.

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Mandy Patinkin Loves Model Trains

By Anne Cohen

Mandy Patinkin’s beard (and its owner, I guess) was the star of last night’s 60 Minutes profile with Bob Simon. The best part? When Mandy — sporting a pretty rockin’ purple bandana — showed off his massive toy train collection (Skip to 9:20). Shenanigans ensued, and apparently the production team ended up playing choo-choo well into the night.

They also talked “Homeland,” but come on — trains!

[h/t Vulture]

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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.

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VIDEO: Larry King Shows Off Breakdancing Moves

By Anne Cohen

Larry King has got moves.

The octagenerian newsman showed off his breakdance skills (using the term loosely here) during an interview with “Black-ish” star Miles “Baby Boogaloo” Brown.

Highlight: “This is new for a Jew!”

Hats off to Heeb for this little gem of a find.

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Nicki Minaj Is Sorry About 'Nazi' Video — Sort Of

By Anne Cohen

It’s ok guys, we can all relax. Nicki Minaj is really sorry about all the overt Nazi imagery in her new music video. In fact, she’s not responsible at all. Turns out the people behind the madness were all Jewish. Well, in that case…

The ADL generously accepted Minaj’s apology.

“We are pleased that Nicki Minaj has taken full responsibility for the video and recognized that it was indeed offensive,”Abe Foxman wrote in a statement. “Her clear renunciation of Nazism is an important step. We hope that she will take further steps to educate herself and her fans about who the Nazis were and why we should never take genocide or the Holocaust lightly.”

If you haven’t seen the offending item yet, here it is:

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Another Day, Another Jewish Trump Wedding

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

First Ivanka, now Eric. The MOT-Trump circle has just gained another member.

The Donald’s 30-year-old son married Jewish TV producer Lara Yunaska on Saturday in front of 450 people. The ceremony, held at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, also featured a “crystal-embellished” chuppah. Because, you know, Trump.

The bride, who reportedly broke both her wrists horseback riding two weeks before the wedding (ouch!), wore Vera Wang.

Ivanka Trump, who married New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner in 2009, posted pictures of the ceremony to Instagram.

Kushner, who officiated the ceremony, reportedly told Yunaska: “You are not just gaining a family you are getting 6 million Twitter followers.”

Mazel tov.

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Bob Geldof Re-Booting 'Do They Know It's Christmas' For Ebola

By JTA

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Musician and philanthropist Bob Geldof, who in 1984 inspired a generation of rock stars to record a charity single for Africa, will raise money to combat Ebola with a new version of the song.

Geldof, frontman for Irish new wave band The Boomtown Rats, pulled together the Band Aid supergroup for “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” three decades ago to help those affected by famine in Ethiopia.

Geldof confirmed at a conference in London that the song would be re-recorded. The new line-up is expected to include boy band One Direction and singers Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, British media reports said.

The original song, which raised 8 million pounds ($11 million), featured some of the era’s biggest acts including U2’s Bono, George Michael and David Bowie. It has been re-recorded twice in 1989 and 2004.

Geldof co-wrote the song with Ultravox singer Midge Ure. It topped the charts in 1984 and sold millions of copies, with proceeds going to Ethiopian famine relief.

They followed it up with Live Aid in 1985, a transatlantic concert that raised an estimated $100 million for Ethiopia.

Ebola has killed 4,950 people out of more than 13,000 infected since it broke out in West Africa earlier this year, according to the World Health Organization, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia an

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Is Nicki Minaj's New Video Nazi-Themed?

By Anne Cohen

Is it me, or has there been an unusual amount of inappropriate Nazi-themed pop culture lately?

Fans of Nicki Minaj are calling for the singer to take down her controversial new video, “Only You,” featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown. With hoards of SS-style troops goose-stepping in an ominously drab fascist landscape while sporting swastika-like armbands, it’s more than a little suggestive of the Third Reich.

At the center of all this is Minaj herself, seated on a red throne overlooking her stormtroopers (is she Hitler in this scenario?).

See for yourself:

Of course, the ADL is “deeply disturbed” about the whole thing. Abe Foxman, who is himself a Holocaust survivor, released the following statement:

Nicki Minaj’s new video disturbingly evokes Third Reich propaganda and constitutes a new low for pop culture’s exploitation of Nazi symbolism. The irony should be lost on no one that this video debuted on the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” pogrom that signaled the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust.

It is troubling that no one among Minaj’s group of producers, publicists and managers raised a red flag about the use of such imagery before ushering the video into public release.

This video is insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era. The abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews and all those who can recall the sacrifices Americans and many others had to make as a result of Hitler’s Nazi juggernaut.

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Watch Orange Is The New Black's Big Boo Confront a Subway Preacher

By Anne Cohen

Any fan of “Orange Is The New Black” knows not to mess with Big Boo.

A New York City subway preacher learned that the hard way when actress Lea DeLaria, clad in “Bad Jew” t-shirt, confronted him about his homophobic views. A passenger on the Queens-bound M train grabbed a video of DeLaria telling the doom and gloom preacher that he and the Tea Party are “everything that’s wrong with America,” and calling him a “creepy religious fanatic.”

The anonymous tipster told Gothamist:

I walked onto the F train at W4 station and they were already yelling. And when I got off two stops later at 23rd street, they were still going. A lot of people were standing around taking videos and photos and watching. I think people weren’t sure whether it was real or staged. But a friend later confirmed that she has seen this same man preaching similar things on the subway before, so I’m pretty sure it was real.

So next time you’re stuck on the subway and upping the volume on your iPhone, try it DeLaria’s way — a rowdy rendition of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” is a surefire way to keep the haters at bay.


[H/T Heeb]

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Ben Stein Calls Obama 'Most Racist President' Ever

By Rachel Delia Benaim

Anyone? Anyone?

In a (sadly) non “Ferris Bueller”-related interview with Fox News, economist and author Ben Stein called President Obama the most racist president ever.

“He is purposely trying to use race to divide America,” Stein told Fox news.

Stein was on to discuss the main issue on voters’ minds today: the economy. A Fox News poll revealed that even in the wake of Ebola and immigration, the economy is still voters’ main concerns. Stein disagrees with the network’s official poll. “I think that’s what people are saying is their most important issue,” he said, “but what I think the White House is doing is trying to racialize all politics and are especially trying to tell the African American voter that the GOP is against letting them have a good chance in this economy.”

“That’s just a complete lie!” he told Fox. “Republicans don’t have policies against the African Americans,” he said. “The idea that the economy is being used as a way to oppress some minorities is just an outrageous lie.”

The lie is so great, so grand, Stein says, that detractors “might as well say that the Republicans are coming down from the moon!”

Ben Stein, who gained recognition as a speech-writer for presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, is the author of the “Yes, You Can Retire Comfortably,” “Can America Survive?,” and “Yes, You Can Time the Market.” He is also, obviously, that guy from “Ferris Bueller.”

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Jewish Stars Say Goodbye to Oscar de La Renta

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Who else could bring Henry Kissinger, Ralph Lauren and Barbara Walters together in the same place, at the same time?

Jewish A-listers bid a sad farewell to Oscar de La Renta on Monday. The service, held at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City’s Upper East Side, saw politicians, actors, fashionistas and socialites, all in their glitzy best to pay tribute to the designer, who died from cancer on Oct. 20 at age 82.

Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenberg repped the Jewish fashion world. Chelsea Clinton and hubby Marc Mezvinsky accompanied Hillary Clinton. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg led the crowd in prayer. Director Mike Nichols and actor Matthew Broderick gave Hollywood cache.

“It was a very beautiful, solemn, spiritual service celebrating a man who was so wonderful and life giving,” Walters told The New York Post (even Anna Wintour shed a tear).

Amal Clooney better frame that wedding gown.

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Brad Pitt Helped Shia LaBeouf Convert to Christianity

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Shia LaBeouf is many things: the former child star of “Even Stevens;” a sometimes weird performance artist; that drunk guy who crashes a performance of “Cabaret” and gets arrested.

But a Jew? No longer. According to Haaretz, the actor has converted to Christianity, with a little help from Brad Pitt.

LaBeouf, currently starring alongside Pitt, told Interview magazine that he “found God doing ‘Fury.’ I became a Christian man, and not in a fucking bullshit way — in a very real way.”

“I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it,” he added in the interview.

Born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father, LaBeouf has expressed pride in his Jewish heritage in the past. He was bar mitzvahed and in 2004, he admitted he felt “cocky” when telling people he was Jewish. “Not bad cocky, but good cocky,” he clarified. “Because what I am really saying is that I am one of the few chosen ones out there.”

Well, Shia, you may not be chosen anymore, but on the bright side, that means Mel Gibson can feel sorry for you. Aren’t you lucky.

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Donna Karan Honored at Lungevity Foundation Gala

By Masha Leon

‘It’s so great when other people wear your clothing,” joked fashion guru and founder of Donna Karan Ltd. Donna Karan, honoree at the Lungevity Foundation’s Celebration of Hope Gala at The Pierre. Wearing a body-hugging black silk sleeveless dress, long black shawl, black boots and imposing triangular tribal metal necklace, fashion was not on the menu that night. Founder of Urban Zen Foundation, and the Urban Zen Stores which “marry philanthropy and commerce” Karan spoke passionately of her husband who succumbed to lung cancer.

“He was a cool dude, really hot artist, photographer…father… who was dismissive of my yoga till he was diagnosed with lung cancer [a disease] that makes breath so difficult.” Karan went on to describe how his battle to breathe became a catalyst for the Urban Zen program.. In the face of her own husband’s battle with lung cancer Ms. Karan discovered a way to care for lung cancer patients that medical treatments could not provide. “I spent decades dressing people. now I want to address them.”

Karen Leon
Donna Karan

“We go into hospitals, do in-bed yoga, aromatherapy, nutrition…We did a clinical study at Beth Israel Hospital so they wanted me to design the doctors’ uniforms, the nurses’ uniforms….’Sorry guys…I want to design a care system.’” Karan informed that “Thanks to the Urban Zen Therapies Program “We saved $900,000 on one floor in the hospital.”

The statistical shocker was the disease’s numerical profile. Lungevity Foundation president and chairman Andrea Ferris informed: “Lung cancer kills 160,000 people a year. There are 400,000 Americans living with lung cancer today. While colon, breast and prostate cancer all have reliable detection tests—lung cancer does not! Currently only 17% of those diagnosed survive 5 years post diagnosis. Sixty percent of all lung cancer diagnoses are of those who never smoked or are former smokers…. It kills more people than colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancers combined!”

“If you were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 there was still no way to detect it early…. Learning of your diagnosis, your doctor would tell you to go home and get your affairs in order. Treatments were limited…toxic. Now in 2014 personalized medicine is a reality…. we now have definitive proof that finding lung cancer early saves lives and innovative treatments are being developed.”

When Ferris asked lung cancer survivors in the room to raise their hands and be identified, there was an explosion of applause.

Emceed by “News 4 New York” award-winning co-anchor David Ushery, the event’s honorary gala chair was Mrs. John Updike whose husband the noted American writer succumbed to lung cancer in 2009. Her son and vice-chair Jason Bernhard was among the event’s speakers.

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Israeli Cartoon Shows Bibi as a 9/11 Terrorist

By Anne Cohen

Today in things in poor taste: A Haaretz cartoon by Amos Biderman showing one Bibi Netanyahu, flying an Israel plane into an American building. Subtle.

I guess people who lost a loved one on 9/11 will just have to get past that boring old thing called grief in the interest of depicting political tension.

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