The Shmooze

Bar Refaeli Tweets Condolences to Family of Murdered Teens

By Anne Cohen

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli tweeted out her condolences to the families of the three Israeli teenagers, found dead yesterday.

Refaeli also posted a picture of three memorial candles to her Instagram feed with the same caption.

Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach had been missing since June 12. Their bodies were found under a pile of rocks in a field near Hebron. The funerals, set for this afternoon, will be held in their home communities, after which they will be buried side-by-side in the Modiin cemetery in central Israel.

Other famous names with ties to Israel have also taken to Twitter to wish the families well. Omri Casspi, the Israeli small forward for the Houston Rockets, spoke of “unspeakable tragedy”:

Actress Mayim Bialik also expressed her grief, declaring that she was signing off from social media as a sign of respect.

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A Whole Day (And Book) to Celebrate Your Jewish Mom

By Anne Cohen

Rachel Ament with her mom // Courtesy of Rachel Ament

Mayim Bialik’s mom thinks you’re jealous of her.

If Barbra Streisand could be so famous and amazing and wonderful with her nose, why should mine be any problem Actually, the way my mother told it, I was indeed a fantastic, gorgeous person and I am surprised I did not become jealous of myself.

So writes the “Big Bang Theory” star in “The Jewish Daughter Diaries: True Stories of Being Loved By Our Moms,” a new collection of essays released just in time for Mother’s Day.

Edited by Rachel Ament, the book is comprised of 27 essays by Jewish female comedians and writers.

Some are funny (Lauren Greenberg’s mom signs her up for JDate without telling her, Anna Breslaw’s is a “Seinfeld” trivia queen).

Some are sad (Nadine Friedman writes movingly about her own miscarriage and her late mother’s multiple sclerosis; Meredith Hoffa about the impulse to “parent with my parent” — never to be now that her mother has passed away).

Some will make you roll your eyes (Iris Behr’s mom gets a major I told you so moment after her daughter dates a Palestinian; A simple request for her mom’s chocolate cookie recipe turns into a stream of consciousness on how Jena Friedman needs to find a nice Jewish boy, needs to get in shape, needs to, needs to, needs to…).

But all are recognizable.

As Ament writes in the book’s introduction:

What makes a Jewish mom stand out is not the degree of her love but how her love materializes. Love suffuses a Jewish mom’s every thought, her every behavior. She cannot rein any of it in. And when so much love blares so forcefully out into the world, the sentiment can’t help but be returned. America loves Jewish moms because they show us their entire selves. Honesty is infectious. Honesty combined with pluck and gumption is intoxicating.

Many of the essays focus on the typical Jewish mother tropes — they push food on everyone, they meddle in their daughters’ (and everyone else’s) personal lives, they worry, they want grandchildren, they worry again — which, as Sarah Ivry at Tablet points out, can get a little tiresome. But the strength of Ament’s book is that she (and her writers) manages to tease out the kernel of truth in every stereotype and make them rise to the top as one, big, fuzzy feelings: Jewish mothers, like all mothers, are ultimately loveable — and loved.

The Shmooze caught up with Ament over email to find out what inspired the book, what she’s inherited from her mother and how she’s celebrating Mother’s Day.

Anne Cohen: What inspired you to edit a book about Jewish mothers?
Rachel Ament: I’ve always just really enjoyed hearing and telling stories about Jewish moms. I like stories that seem familiar, and relatable, but are also unexpected.

What is it about Jewish mothers that you find compelling?
I think Jewish moms tend to be incredibly charming and colorful characters. Of course, Jewish moms come in many forms which I discuss in the book. But outliers shouldn’t prevent us from bonding over what connects so many of us. I don’t think we should ever be afraid of talking (or laughing) about ourselves.

You manage to take the book beyond the typical Jewish mom stereotype, while playing to the the elements of the trope that make our moms lovable. Was that important to you?
Yes, it was important to me that the essays were funny but still discussed Jewish mothers in a loving and affectionate tone. I think the writers did an excellent job executing that.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Any family traditions?
We usually just have brunch. We’re pretty boring! But I try to at least give my mom a cool unique gift!

If you had to name one thing you inherited from you mom, what would it be?
We both laugh and talk a lot. And of course, worry a lot.

How did you get Mayim Bialik to participate?
I sent her publicist this long rambling email about the project and Mayim was really charmed by the idea.

In the book’s introduction, you write that your mom nagged you over and over to tell her that you looked just like her as a child. Did you end up telling her?
No, but I did email her the book’s introduction (in which I discussed how I looked like her as a kid) before the book was published. She thought it was funny and asked if she could share with her mom.

Now, why are you still reading this? Go call your mom!

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: review, mother, mother's day, rachel ament, mayim bialik, jewish daughter diaries, jewish, book

Celebrities, They're Just Like Us: Passover Edition

By Anne Cohen


For once, it doesn’t matter if you live in an L.A. mega-mansion or a tiny New York apartment – you’ve still got to clean out your hametz. A happy Passover from all your favorite Jewish celebrities.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: william shatner, twitter, tavi gevinson, mayim bialik, jewish, jon favreau, celebrities, Passover2 2014

Mayim Bialik's Sushi Hamantaschen

By Anne Cohen

Much has been written on how to improve hamantaschen: add some booze, avoid prune filling (we can all agree on this one, I think), drizzle with chocolate, and so on and so on.

But Mayim Bialik topped every single one of those with her version of “nouveau” Purim cooking:

Yum? Yuck? Let us know in the comments.

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When 10-Year-Old Mayim Bialik Met Cyndi Lauper

By Anne Cohen

Throwback Thursday (#TBT, for those who don’t know) is the perfect time for celebrities show us (carefully chosen) snippets of their past on Twitter and Facebook. This week, Mayim Bialik wins the cool kid contest with a picture showing a 10-year-old (and too adorable for words) Mayim casually hanging with Cyndi Lauper.

The “Big Bang Theory,” in which Bialik stars as quirky neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler, would probably have a long-winded theory about past encounters influencing future stardom in the cosmic universe of something or other.

We’ll just quote Cyndi and say, “Girls just want to have fun.”

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What Did Jewish Celebrities Do For Christmas?

By Anne Cohen

For Jews, Christmas is a time to switch off, relax, be first in line to see the Christmas blockbuster releases and eat Chinese food by the soft glow of the TV. And in this case, celebrities really are just like us — how did your favorite Jewish stars celebrate Christmas? Find out:

Sarah Silverman sent good wishes.


Seth Rogen binged on TV.


Elizabeth Banks enjoyed winter views.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: seth rogen, sarah silverman, mel brooks, mayim bialik, lea michele, james franco, gene simmons, emmy rossum, elizabeth banks, dianna agron

Lena Dunham's Awful Emmy Dress

By Anne Cohen

Unless you were hiding under a rock (or like me, don’t have the luxury of cable) you are probably aware that the Emmys were last night.

TV’s greatest night gives stars a chance to shine, even if the characters they play often don’t (Bryan Cranston’s Walter White meth suit on “Breaking Bad” is one example). But for Lena Dunham, it seems the Emmy’s were a chance to reiterate her point that she — like her character Hannah Horvath on “Girls” — is the worst dressed person on the planet.

In other news, Zosia Mamet showed up her “Girls” co-star in Honor, Julia Louis-Dreyfus shone in Monique Lhuillier, Alyson Hannigon rocked a jewel-toned Marchesa gown and 14-year-old Nolan Gould rivaled Mandy Patinkin for most dapper gent on the red carpet.

Feast your eyes on the dos and don’ts below:

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Alicia Silverstone Joins Breastfeed Bandwagon

By JTA

getty images
Alicia Silverstone

Mayim Bialik isn’t the only vegan Jewish actress-author in Hollywood speaking up for breastfeeding.

While Bialik has provided advice to fellow moms, Alicia Silverstone is now providing them with actual breast milk. According to Us Weekly, Silverstone, mom to Bear Blu, 2, and author of “The Kind Diet,” has just launched Kind Mama Milk Share, a service for vegan mothers unable to produce enough milk on their own.

In a recent blog post, Silverstone wrote of a woman in her community who had trouble nursing due to a breast-reduction surgery and didn’t feel comfortable accepting donor milk because “it was almost impossible to figure out what kind of lifestyle choices the donors had made.”

Using another’s breast milk – and insisting the person be a “clean eater” – might seem extreme, but Silverstone is no stranger to extreme baby-feeding methods. Last year she uploaded a video of herself practicing premastication – transferring chewed food from her mouth to Bear Blu’s.

“I can understand that [pre-chewing] would make some people feel uncomfortable possibly because it’s new to them,” Silverstone told ET. “But I do want to let you know that this has been going on for thousands of years. [It’s] still going on all over the place. And it’s natural.”

We’re just hoping there are no plans for a Kind Mama Prechewed Food Share on the horizon.

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Mayim Bialik is Officially Divorced

By Chavie Lieber

Getty Images

Add this one to the list of eligible Jewish bachelorettes.

“Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik is officially divorced.

After nearly a decade of marriage, the 27-year-old neuroscientist finalized her divorce with Michael Stone, People reports.

Bialik announced her separation this past November, telling fans on her blog it was “terribly sad, painful and incomprehensible for children. It is not something we have decided lightly.”

Bialik and Stone will have joint custody over the children, and she told People earlier this year she’s consulted child specialists out of concern for her children.

“There is a book called The Truth About Divorce and it focuses on a progressive child psychology approach. We used those tools. The general notion is it’s appropriate to show children the feelings they might feel in any situation. And it’s actually been going very smoothly. My boys have the best dad in the world that they could ever ask for,” she said.

“I would say it’s a tremendously painful and difficult transition and one which I have chosen to be fairly private about. It’s all the things one would imagine,” Bialik added about her divorce. “It’s sad, it’s scary, it’s monumental, it’s the biggest shift occurring for our little men. It’s all those things. I’m not super human.”

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Pesach in 140 Characters

By Anne Cohen

Now that you’ve somehow managed to digest all that Seder matzo, it’s time to re-live it all through the eyes of the rich and famous.

Some were early:

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: William Shatner, Twitter, Tavi Gavinson, Seth Rogen, Regina Spektor, Passover, Mayim Bialik, Joan Rivers, Elizabeth Banks, Drake

Mayim Bialik Plans Divorce

By Forward Staff

getty images

Actress Mayim Bialik and her husband, Michael Stone have announced plans to divorce after nine years of marriage.

The “Big Bang Theory” actress, known for her adherence to so-called “attachment parenting,” blamed the split on “irreconcilable differences.

“After much consideration and soul-searching, Michael and I have arrived at the decision to divorce,” she wrote on her blog at Kveller, a Jewish parenting website.

The couple has two sons, 7-year-old Miles and 4-year-old Frederick.

The former “Blossom” star insisted that her unusual parenting style, which includes sleeping in the same bed with the children, had nothing to do with the couple’s trip to Splitsville.

“The hands-on style of parenting we practice played no role in the changes that led to this decision,” she wrote. “Relationships are complicated no matter what style of parenting you choose.”

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Tuesday's Shmooze Celebrity Roundup

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Sunday’s Emmys were a font of Shmooze celebrity news. First off, Mayim Bialik made Jewish moms and dads everywhere kvell at the awards ceremony on Sunday night when she gave a shout out during a red carpet interview to popular parenting blog, Kveller.com.

Did you notice that “Two Broke Girls” star Kat Dennings was slouching all evening at the Emmys? Apparently, it was to ensure that her ample bosom did not pop out of her über-low-cut stunning scarlet strapless gown. “No matter what I do they’re there, so…‬,” the actress joshed. Denning’s date, boyfriend Nick Zano’s main assignment was to prevent a wardrobe malfunction. “He has been alerted to the possibility of emergency and he’s always primed and ready,” she said.

Gideon Raff, the original creator of the Israeli series “Hatufim,” on which Showtime’s “Homeland” is based, was on hand to receive the Emmy for the best writing in a drama series. He accepted it along with Alex Ganza and Howard Gordon, the American show’s executive producers.

In her acceptance speech for the award for outstanding actress in a drama series, Claire Danes showed off her guttural pronunciation skills as she acknowledged her co-star Mandy Patinkin. “Challah!” she exclaimed after mentioning Patinkin’s name. Was this some inside joke? Or maybe a reference to the round variety of the traditional Jewish bread we eat on the High Holidays? Speculation abounded on Twitter.

In other news, the Jewish Council for Education and Research’s “Let My People Vote” video ad starring the Sarah Silverman has quickly topped the political charts.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s PDA fest continued this past weekend. The pair were spotted canoodling in various spots around the Big Apple.

Israel is expecting visits from Chuck Norris, who accepted an invitation from Likud MK Danny Danon, as well as from RedFoo (the guy with the big hair and oversized glasses) of the recently broken-up LMFAO.

Full frontal? No prob. Max Greenfield, who plays Schmidt on “New Girl,” says he’s ready and willing to portray Christian Grey in the upcoming film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

In sad news, it was announced that Bonnie Franklin has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Gen Xers, in particular, will recall that Franklin, 68, played mom to Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips’ teenage characters on the “One Day At A Time” sitcom from 1975 to 1984.

Finally, as the Day of Atonement descends upon us, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres are making a conciliatory gesture…at least for Kol Nidrei. The two will pray together on Erev Yom Kippur at a Jerusalem synagogue close to the President’s official residence.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sarah Silverman, Mayim Bialik, Mila Kunis, Max Greenfield, Kat Dennings, Jewish, Claire Danes, Gideon Raff, Bonnie Franklin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ashton Kutcher, Shimon Peres

Monday's Shmooze Celebrity Roundup

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Claire Danes, who won an Emmy last night for her portrayal of CIA agent Carrie Mathison on “Homeland,” wows in a Tel Aviv fashion spread in the New York Times’ fashion magazine. In Israel to shoot scenes for the show, she posed in designs by Vanessa Bruno, Emporio Armani, Comme des Garçons, Louis Vuitton and others on location in Jaffa and the oldest neighborhoods in Tel Aviv.

Speaking of the Emmys, Mayim Bialik may have been freaking out before the ceremony, but she sure looked great in her flowing red gown that matched her long flowing coiffure. It’s too bad she didn’t win for best supporting actress in a comedy series, but at least she got a nice profile in the New York Times last week.

And speaking of photo shoots, here ) is a smoking hot one of Rashida Jones in Flaunt Magazine.

Vanessa Redgrave, who denounced “Zionist hoodlums” in her 1977 Oscar speech, will play a Holocaust survivor in the off-Broadway production of “The Revisionist,” a new play by “The Social Network” star Jesse Eisenberg.

People Magazine’s fashion editors named Gwyneth Paltrow the world’s best dressed woman for 2012.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shaun Sperling, Vanessa Redgrave, Scarlett Johansson, Rashida Jones, Madonna, Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Haim Hefer, James Franco, Gwyneth Paltrow, Claire Danes

Mayim Bialik Will Not "Bedazzle" Her Splint

By Blair Thornburgh

Getty Images

Modesty maven Mayim Bialik had bit of formalwear good fortune this week. The 36-year-old “aspiring Modern Orthodox” sitcom star made a big bang on the red carpet for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Performers Peer Group Reception with a lovely, lacey, long-sleeved gray gown that covered all the requisite parts: arms, legs, and the splint from her serious car accident just a few days earlier.

“We had already planned on a long sleeve dress,” Bialik told People.com. “I’m a modest dresser anyway. There are not many dresses that cover your fingertips though so it might take a little of expanding the fabric, trying to get this contraption in a sleek black,” she added, referring to the splint on her left thumb, which was nearly severed when a carful of tourists crashed into her on Los Angeles’ Hollywood Boulevard last Wednesday.

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Lena, Larry and Mayim Scoop Emmy Nods

By JTA

getty images
Lena Dunham

Mayim Bialik, Larry David and Lena Dunham are among the Jewish performers nominated for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Jewish filmmaker and actress Lena Dunham was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Hannah Horvath on the HBO series “Girls.” The show has also been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and was inspired by Dunham’s experiences as a Jewish girl living in New York City.

Larry David, who is best known as one of the creators of the TV show “Seinfeld” was nominated as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The show also was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.

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Mayim Bialik Couldn’t Quite Quit Facebook

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Deciding to take a break from Facebook is usually a personal issue — but not in Mayim Bialik’s case. On May 24 the actress declared on her Kveller blog that she was going to stop using social media. But by yesterday, she had already reconsidered and announced that she would be back on Facebook, but with the caveat that she would disable the comment function on her page.

After receiving a particularly bruising beating from commentators, Bialik had decided enough was enough. Why was she getting off Facebook? “Because it’s not working for me. It’s stressful and upsetting,” she explained. “I can’t simply ‘ignore all of those comments’ because I know deep down I’m a great person and ‘who cares what people think anyway?’ It’s about not feeling comfortable being a part of such a discourse anymore.”

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Jerusalem Post Ranks 50 Influential Jews

By Michael Kaminer

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Jon Stewart took #7 on the Jerusalem Post list.

Mazel tov, Benjamin “King Bibi” Netanyahu. You’re officially the most influential Jew in the world, according to the Jerusalem Post’s just-released ranking of the world’s 50 most significant Semites.

And good on you, (Jon Stewart #7). The Post thinks you’ve got more juice than Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (#9) and Eric Cantor (#19) —and all of you rate higher than Shimon Peres (#22) and George Soros (#38).

But the Post’s choices — Canadian rapper Drake at #16? Natalie Portman at #36? — have sparked some good-natured hand-wringing in the blogosphere.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shimon Peres, Sergey Brin, Sheldon Adelson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ruth Messinger, Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman, Jeremy Ben-Ami, George Soros, Drake, Eric Cantor, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Benjamin Netanyahu, Amir Eshel

More Mayim! Actress Does Conan

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Mayim Bialik

More Mayim! Our favorite actress, neuroscientist, vegan and “attachment parenting” expert was on Conan O’Brien’s show talking about how she helps keep the scientific facts straight on her show, “The Big Bang Theory.” While she was at it, Bialik also reassured Conan’s other guest, comedian Dana Carvey, that his teen sons’ lack of impulse control is completely normal…at least statistically speaking.

Dressed in a stylish, yet tsnius-conscious printed wrap dress, Bialik told Conan that she modestly lists “PhD in neuroscience from UCLA” in the “miscellaneous” section of her acting resume. She said she simply didn’t know where else to put it, so she put it there…where other people list random talents and hobbies like juggling, as Conan suggested.

Carvey acted star struck to be in the presence of a neuroscientist, and wanted to co-opt Bialik for a conversation on the differences in the development of the brain’s frontal lobe in girls and boys. Bialik gracefully indulged Carvey for a minute or so, but then shifted her focus back to Conan, who reminded her that when she was 11 years old (before her starring on “Blossom”), she played a super-nerd named Frieda on “Webster” — whom Bialik modeled on Carvey’s SNL “The Church Lady” character.

And speaking of character, we love Bialik for hers. Unlike some other actresses, she has a self-effacing sense of humor. In talking about that early role, she said, “I was a character actress. This face on an 11-year-old gets character roles.”

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She’s Everywhere! Mayim Bialik’s Old Navy Ad

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

We can now add CFO (as in “Chief Floral Officer”) to Mayim Bialik’s blossoming curriculum vitae. The “Big Bang Theory” actress, neuroscientist, mommy, blogger, kosher vegan connoisseur, and attachment parenting expert can now be seen hocking spring dresses in a short Old Navy commercial.

Bialik appears in the spot wearing a frumpy frock and floppy hat in pastel blue, pink and yellow. She operates a remote control that directs “bee bots” to “put the petals to the metal” and color Old Navy’s “Hello” dresses in bright colors and prints.

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SNL Crowns Mayim Bialik the Queen of Quirky

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

It seems Mayim Bialik is everywhere these days. The doctor of neuroscience stars as the character Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” writes a weekly column for Kveller, and is the go-to attachment parenting expert for NBC’s Today show and others. She even has a book on attachment parenting coming out this spring.

To her fans’ delight, Bialik turned up unexpectedly on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. Well, she wasn’t actually there, but she was there in spirit. Host Zooey Deschanel was a good sport, participating in a skit about her notoriety as the queen of quirkiness (one of the SNL regulars played Deschanel, while Deschanel herself played Mary-Kate Olsen — who everyone knows holds her own in terms of quirkiness). As the two women offer tips on how to be quirky, they pause to honor Bialik. Why? Because the former “Blossom” star is the “founder of quirky girls.”

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