The Shmooze

How About a Kosher Super Bowl Half Time Show?

By Gabe Friedman

Getty Images

From Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 to rapper M.I.A.’s middle finger to the camera in 2012, the Super Bowl Halftime Show has not been very kosher in recent years. The halftime show, which usually features some of the most popular musical acts in the world, is often a spectacle of scantily clad dancers and songs that reference sex.

Last year pop singer Bruno Mars and the rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers played a reasonably family-friendly set, but this year’s headliner, Katy Perry, will most likely bring the show back into familiar territory.

For those looking for a more family-friendly (or a more Jewish) alternative to the usual halftime show antics, Orthodox radio host Nachum Segal provides a solution: the second annual “Kosher Halftime Show.”

Since 1983, Segal, the son of Rabbi Zev Segal, has hosted “Jewish Moments in the Morning” for WFMU 91.1 FM, a Jersey City-based radio station. His usual show includes music (from Hasidic rock to modern Israeli and klezmer music), Jewish and Israeli news, and guest interviews. He calls his longstanding show a “Jewish radio empire.”

This year’s “Kosher Halftime Show,” to be streamed on, will feature the jam band Soulfarm, whose co-founder C. Lanzbom has worked with Pete Seeger and Shlomo Carlebach.

“There are many families that enjoy watching the game together, but when the halftime show starts they are uncomfortable,” Segal said in a press release, which also estimates that last year’s show drew over 10,000 viewers.

Nevertheless, for those who are going to stay on the couch for the duration of the normal ceremonies, there will still be at least one Jewish element to the normal Super Bowl this year: Jewish singer Idina Menzel, known for her lead roles in “Frozen” and “Wicked,” will sing the national anthem to kick off the game.

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Wait, Johnny Depp Wants to Be a Mohel?

By Anne Cohen

It looks like Johnny Depp is just as depressed about his acting career as you are.

During an appearance on Israeli TV show, “Erev Tov With Guy Pines.” the “Mortdecai” actor revealed that he’s been considering a change of pace to become… a mohel?

Thanks to Tablet for pointing out the fantastic exchange below:

Host: “Johnny, you heard of Purim?”

Johnny Depp: “No, but I can tell you that I have given serious though to becoming a…”

Host: “A Jew?”

Johnny Depp: “A mohel”

Paul Bettany (also there to promote the movie): “Like an emergency mohel”

Johnny Depp: “That’s it. It’s more like an on-call mohel.”

Let’s just get this straight: the man who played Edward Scissorhands wants to do your bris? Looks like Tim Burton might have a plot for his new movie.

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9 Jewish Things To Watch If You're Snowed In

By Anne Cohen

If you’re on the East Coast right now, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re hunkered down with a fridge full of food and a couple of extra blankets. So, what better time to catch up on all those shows and movies you’ve been meaning to see?

Here are a couple of our more Jewish suggestions:

1) The Honourable Woman

This 8-part mini-series/Middle East thriller won Maggie Gyllenhaal a Golden Globe this year. Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman, hiding a dark secret.

Available on Netflix

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What My Jewish Mom Thinks About Deflate-Gate

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Most Jewish boys just call their moms. Josh Seftel turned his chats into a web series.

Every week, the New York filmmaker Facetimes his mom in Sarasota, Florida. After covering the basics, the conversation always segways into to Pat’s favorite subject: celebrity gossip. Over the past year, they’ve tackled some of the great questions of our time: Is it morally kosher to eat Paula Deen’s fried chicken? Is Denzel Washington aging well? Will Lena Dunham’s tattoos prevent her from getting a Jewish burial?

This week was no exception: the shocking(?) revelation that 11 of the 12 balls used during the New England Patriots’ win against the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated by 2 pounds — leading to the inevitable “Tom Brady’s deflated balls” jokes — just screamed for a Jewish mother’s perspective.

Watch Pat Seftel weigh in on the Patriots, deflate-gate and why she would definitely date Tom Brady:

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I.B. Singer's Wife Alma Dishes About His Women

By Masha Leon

After a screening of “The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer,” I replied to a chutzpedik questioner: “Isaac never hit on me!” A frequent visitor in the 1930s to my parents’ Leszno 6 one-room home in Warsaw when I was toddler, I reconnected with him in New York in the 1960s when he and my father were both Forverts contributors.

In 1973, when the Jewish studies Department of Queens College offered “The Novels of I .B. Singer With The Author Present,” I was in that SRO classroom. We read a novel a week. In an attempt to impress Singer, students parsed his characters through Freudian/Jungian filters. Sitting in a chair, facing the awe struck class, Singer shrugged: “I create a karakter un der karakter does vat der karakter vants.” Apropos his heroes’ romantic appetites and roamings, he said: “A man can have as many liaisons [and illegitimate] children as he wants–but not so a woman!”

After his Nobel Prize for Literature brouhaha in 1978, I told his wife Alma — who spoke no Yiddish who with Singer had been dinner guests at our home–that she, too, deserved a moment in the spotlight. Isaac was out when we schmoozed at their 86th Street apartment where her daughter Inga, from her first marriage, served me babka.

Masha Leon with Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1973 // Photo credit: Joseph Leon

“How do you feel about all the women who come onto him?” I ventured. “Thank God, now it’s mostly platonic,” she replied. The conversation covered stories that would have been grist for a Yiddish“Page 6.” Alma spoke of her supporting Singer after she left her first husband and two children for the skinny poor Yiddish writer. “Does he take your advice?” I asked. “And how!” “Do you act as his buffer?” Alma sighed: “He does not let me through, but I feel he absolutely overdoes it with interviews.”

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Bacon Scratch-and-Sniff Lottery Tickets Are Here!

By Anne Cohen


What’s better than winning $1,000? Winning $1,000 while smelling bacon.

At least, that’s what New Hampshire wants you to think.

According to The New York Post, the state lottery has launched a special “scratch and sniff ‘I Heart Bacon’ ticket” this month.

Players “will think it’s time for Saturday morning breakfast,” Lottery Commission Executive Director Charlie McIntyre told the Post.

So basically, not only does New Hampshire want you to smell bacon — they want you to smell it on Shabbat?!

That’s not the end of it — to promote the product, the New Hampshire Lottery has announced a “bacon truck” that will drive around offering free applewood bacon samples, filling the air with more pork products.

Ok treyf, you win — this time.

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PHOTOS: Capturing a 1970s Borscht Belt Singles' Weekend

By Elyssa Goodman

Rani Stevens Goodman

Born and raised in New York, my mother, Rani Stevens Goodman, grew up going to the Catskill Mountains every weekend from the time she was still in the womb until her mid-twenties.

For the uninitiated, The Catskills, which include Sullivan, Orange, and Ulster Counties in upstate New York, was once known as The Borscht Belt, the Jewish Alps or the Sour Cream Sierras for its many Jewish-owned hotels and their mostly Jewish clientele.

Though she went up every weekend in the summer, one particular weekend in 1970 coincidentally involved a Singles’ Weekend at her hotel, The Concord in Kiamesha Lake, New York. Ever the shutter-bug, she snapped photographs at the hotel pool. Here’s what she had to say about them:

What’s happening in these pictures?
These were taken during a singles’ weekend at the Concord Hotel in Sullivan County, New York. Kiamesha Lake, actually. I wasn’t there for the singles’ weekend; I went up every weekend after work on Friday afternoons. Being that I was always together with my trusty camera, and noting the quantity of people in the pool, I decided to get closer.

Rani Stevens Goodman

What did you do when you found out it was a singles’ weekend?
I hid [laughs]. When I got to the pool I said, ‘Where are all these people coming from? What is going on?’ Someone said, ‘Oh, it’s Singles’ Weekend!’ I said, ‘Oh, God help me.’ I was on my usual lounge chair; I had it every weekend because I enjoyed the sun and relaxing and reading.That weekend I was — how would you say — approached more often than usual. [laughs]. They wanted to know where I was sitting, at what table, could they join me for dinner, etc Actually, there was one young fellow working there who was better looking than all of them. The others were a little bit…older than I was. They were obviously there because they needed to be!

Rani Stevens Goodman

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Barbra Streisand is #1 at Everything

By Tamara Palmer

We’ve always known that our Barbra is the greatest; so great that we don’t even need to use her last name. But did you know that she is literally number one at everything?

This week, Columbia Records sent out a press release announcing that her latest album “Partners,” which was released in September, has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales in excess of one million copies. This is her 31st album to reach such sales heights — a number no other woman in recording history has achieved. And there’s much elaboration about her top achievements:

“Ms. Streisand is the female artist with the most number one albums in Billboard’s history. She is also the best-selling female recording artist in history, with over 72 million albums sold. Ms. Streisand is the only female to make the All-Time Top 10 Best Selling Artists list, an honor which includes fellow duet “Partners” Elvis Presley and Billy Joel. She also has the longest span of number one albums in history; just under 50 years… Partners is her 33rd album to make it into the Top 10 on the US charts. Ms. Streisand is the only female artist to have achieved this milestone, tying her with Frank Sinatra.”

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How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Stole SOTU Show

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

So, you may have heard that the President gave an important speech last night. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first — let’s talk about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s mad style chops.

The Supreme Court Justice, rocked a beaded Egyptian-style style collar, and BLACK. FISHNET. GLOVES. as she gave President Obama a hug. Come to Ruthie…

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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.

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Jon Stewart Takes on Miss Israel's Photobomb

By Lior Zaltzman

Once again, Jon Stewart showed us that he can take on anything, even the Miss Universe pageant, in a hilarious segment called “War of the Poses”.

The late-night comic opened his second segment in the show by talking about the other images that have been shaking the world. The images of Muhammad that caused the terrible events in France. The image of the march which upset some: “An ultra-orthodox newspaper “as God commanded” used photoshop to rid the event of women.”

Which brings Stewart to the segment, which he also dubs “What’s Upsetting the Middle East This Week?”

“Is it an Isis beheading?” Jon proposes, “Ayatollah on the toilet? Ankle porn? What?”

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JDate Hooks You Up With Your Old Camp Flame

By Elicia Brown

Kurt Hoffman

(JTA) — Beth and Jeff Kopin are one of an estimated 700 married couples to have met at one of the Conservative movement’s Ramah camps.

The Kopins, who fell in love at Ramah Wisconsin in the 1970s, went on to raise a flock of “Ramahniks.”

“There’s this family feeling if you meet another Ramahnik,” says Beth Kopin, who calls herself a “Ramah lifer” and splits her time between Chicago and Jerusalem.

“There’s the communal experience of Shabbat singing, of keeping kosher, of being in a Hebrew musical, of exploring Israel together. It’s being part of a smaller tribe within a larger tribe.”

That’s why Kopin, along with some other Ramah alumni, urged the North American camp network to start a dating service for its alumni.

The service, called RamahDate, is expected to launch this year and is being created in partnership with JDate, the for-profit online dating site. Believed to be the first Jewish camp-specific dating service, RamahDate will cater exclusively to Ramah alumni. The camp estimates that as many as 10,000 of its former campers are single and under 40.

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Idina Menzel to Sing at Superbowl

By Lior Zaltzman

Getty Images

Idina Menzel is finally getting the recognition she deserves. It’s been almost two decades since the Jewish diva made her broadway debut. She originated some of our favorite broadway roles, like Rent’s Maureen Johnson and Wicked’s Elphaba. But it was Disney’s record breaking “Frozen” that catapulted Menzel to rockstar-level fame. Many of us still can’t stop singing her character Elsa’s “Let It Go”.

Now Idina Menzel is set to hit another milestone; she’ll be preforming the national anthem at the Super Bowl. It’s been confirmed that the singer will preform “The Star Spangled Banner” from University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona on Sunday, February 1. Proving again why she was one of our 2014 Forward 50.

Her performance will definitely make this year’s Super Bowl extra Jewish. And extra soulful.

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Monica Lewinsky Gets National Magazine Award Nod

By Anne Cohen

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Monica Lewinsky has been nominated for a National Magazine Award for her Vanity Fair essay commenting on her relationship with Bill Clinton.

In “Shame and Survival,” published in June, broke Lewinsky’s near-ten years of silence about the affair that nearly brought down a president:

“I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened,” Lewinsky wrote in her essay, which earned Vanity Fair its sole 2015 nomination. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position… . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”

Sponsored by the American Society of Magazine Editors since 1966, the awards “honor print and digital publications that consistently demonstrate superior execution of editorial objectives, innovative techniques, noteworthy journalistic enterprise and imaginative art direction.”

The winners will be revealed on February 2 at a ceremony held in New York at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

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Ayn Rand, Worst Jewish Aunt — Ever

By Anne Cohen

Lior Zaltzman

It’s hard to imagine Ayn Rand as having a warm and fuzzy family life.

And yet, this letter to her niece Connie shows that Rand — born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum in 1905 to Russian-Jewish parents —  did indeed have humans who loved her. Well, maybe. The missive (posted below) outlines the rather, um, severe conditions under which Rand would loan her sister’s daughter (not some stranger — and even then, come on) $25 to buy a graduation dress. If I were Connie, I would probably have waved bye bye to scary aunt Ayn after this doozy.

You think your aunts are bad? Read it and weep:

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'Grand Budapest Hotel' Leads Oscar Nominations

By Anne Cohen

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards. Winners will be revealed in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, when Neil Patrick Harris makes his debut as Oscars host. Leading the pack is Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel,” inspired by the writings of Austrian-Jewish novelist Stefan Zweig, with 9 nominations (including Best Picture and Best Director).

Also in the kind-of-Jewish movie category is “Ida,” Poland’s nominee for best cinematography and best foreign-language film, which tells the tale of a Catholic nun who learns that her parents were Jews killed in the Holocaust. “Wild Tales,” directed by the Argentinian-Jewish Damian Szifron, also earned a nom in the latter category.

Here’s the full list — better get started on those Oscar ballots:

Following is a list of nominees in leading categories.


“American Sniper”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Theory of Everything”


Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”


Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

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Social Justice Was The Golden Globes' Biggest Winner

By John A. Oswald

Jeffrey Tambor, Jill Soloway celebrate their win for ‘Transparent’ // Getty Images

George Clooney had one.

Kathy Bates, Diane Kruger and Dame Helen Mirren too.

Signs and buttons with the simple but powerful words “Je Suis Charlie” — French for “I am Charlie” – were everywhere Sunday at the Golden Globes ceremony.

The usually raucous night took on a decidedly somber tone as A-listers showed their support for France after last week’s deadly terror attack at the office of French humor magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and hostage standoff at a Jewish supermarket.

French Jews were particularly rattled — so much so that the famed Grand Synagogue in the Marais canceled Friday night Sabbath services for the first time in 70 years.

Stars jumped to their feet inside the Beverly Hilton after the head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association paired the Charlie attacks with the recent hacking at Sony that prompted the studio to yank Seth Rogen’s The Interview,” a farce about the fictional assassination of North Korea’s dictator.

Getty Images
Jared Leto declared “Je Suis Charlie” while presenting at the Golden Globes.

“As international journalists we also understand the importance of freedom of expression. As not only an integral part of the American fabric, but a beacon that is reflected across the globe. Together, we will stand united against anyone who would repress free speech, anywhere from North Korea to Paris,” Theo Kingma said to thunderous applause.

Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto, a presenter at last night’s show,also paused to also pay tribute.

“To our brothers, sisters, friends and families in France, our thoughts, our prayers, our hearts are with you tonight,” he said. “On vous aime. Je suis Charlie.”

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Are The Kardashians Moving to Tel Aviv?

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Brace yourself Tel Aviv, the Kardashians are coming.

The Times of Israel reports that Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian have their eye on $30 million worth of real estate on the city’s A-list Hayarkon Street. The sisters would apparently combine a fourth floor apartment and 11,840 square feet penthouse to create the ultimate Kardashian krash pad.

The property in question, at 96 Hayarkon street, dates back to 1935 and was designed by architect Pinchas Bijonski in the Bauhaus style. The renovated building, opened to the public in 2012, combined the original structure with a 9-story tower.

Check out the inside here:

Scott Disick, Kourtney’s boyfriend and father of her three kids, is Jewish (and has the bling to prove it). Can we look forward to a krazy Kardashian wedding in Israel sometime soon? We’d settle for a glimpse of Kanye at the kotel.

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9 Jews To Look Out For at The Golden Globes

By Anne Cohen

As we all get ready to worship at the altar of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey on Sunday, take a moment to check out which of your favorite Jewish actors/directors/writers are being honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The 72nd Annual Golden Globes Awards will air at 8 p.m. (EST) on NBC on Jan. 11, 2015. Good luck to all members of the tribe!

Jake Gyllenhaal

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama — ”Nightcrawler”

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie — “The Honorable Woman”

Joaquin Phoenix

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical — ”Inherent Vice”

Liev Schreiber

Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama — ”Ray Donovan”

Louis C.K.

Best Actor, TV Series Comedy — ”Louie”

Jeffrey Tambor

Best Actor, TV Series Comedy — ”Transparent”

Julianna Margulies

Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama — “The Good Wife”

Lena Dunham

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy — ”Girls”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy — ”Veep”

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Cameron Diaz's 'Jewish' Wedding

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Mazel tov, Cameron Diaz! At least, we think so.

The non-Jewish actress tied the knot yesterday in a Jewish ceremony with Good Charlotte’s (maybe Jewish? — status ambiguous) Benji Madden. Yes, you read that right. Two celebrities with no apparent connection to Judaism decided it would be fun to say “I do” under a chuppah (after scouring the Internet, I was unable to find any reference to Benji’s Jewish background, but hey — who knows).

Us Weekly reports that the ceremony, attended by 100 guests and planned by Yifat Oren (so THERE’S the Jewish connection) and Stefanie Cove, was held on a stage in Diaz’s home.

The traditional seven blessings were recited, and yes, Benji crushed the glass as twin Joel Madden and his wife Nicole Ritchie looked on.

But wait, it gets weirder. Per Us Weekly:

After the vows, Madden requested personal time with Diaz, during which they entered a private room for about 30 minutes, asking not to be disturbed — a Jewish wedding ritual known as Yichud.

I’m not really sure how to feel about this. Is Good Charlotte a good Jewish band? Or Is Judaism just the new kale?

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