JTA) — The incidents at my alma mater, UCLA, in the past weeks have shaken us all. As a Bruin, to hear that members of the student government were considering not electing a perfectly competent student to a position because she was Jewish is astounding and frightening. As a Jew and a Hillel supporter (having been the product of the leadership education, social and cultural and religious programming provided by Hillel organizations around the world) the accusations and inanity felt way too close to home for comfort.
When fellow Kveller contributor Alina Adams declared that she won’t send her kids to “UCLA or any other anti-Semitic college,” I decided I had to speak up.
Sorry, but it’s true. There is racism, bigotry, hatred, and–yes–anti-Semitism everywhere in the world. We can’t escape it. Not in France, not in Israel, not even in peaceful Denmark. It’s all over the place. As an assimilated Jew in the Diaspora, I accept my position as an outsider everywhere I go.
It’s simply not. There is nothing anti-Semitic per se about UCLA. Just because there is evidence of ignorance and anti-Semitism, doesn’t mean the university has fostered it or supports it. I’m trying not to get too hysterical about this in general because it’s such an isolated event at UCLA. The global issues campuses are facing, such as ousting Jewish professors (thanks, Durban), not allowing Jewish professors to speak, and other such outrageous offensiveness is not what’s going on in this case at UCLA. (Go Bruins.)
Mayim Bialik has a sense of humor.
The actress shared a picture of her cat on Instagram today with the caption: “My sleepy baby, Esau. (that’s an ironic Biblical name. Google it.)”
Once you recover from the sight of what is really a scary-looking hairless creature, the joke is pretty clever. Esau, in the Torah, is Isaac’s oldest son and Jacob’s twin brother. His name, in Hebrew, means “hairy” or “rough.”
This is how his birth is described in Genesis 25:25: “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau.”
Good one, Mayim.
Mayim Bialik knows that nothing says Happy Hanukkah like menorah sweggings (sweater-leggings, for all you regular pants-wearers).
Mayim, Mayim, Mayim.
In a post written for her personal blog on Kveller, Mayim Bialik has disavowed the frosty fairytale and instant cult classic that captured all our hearts this year. Yes — Mayim Bialik hates “Frozen.”
In “Why My Sons and I Hate the Movie ‘Frozen,’ the “Big Bang Theory” star and (former) favorite Jewess explains her reasons. Here they are below, with some added commentary by yours truly:
1) The Lack of Female Agency
Sure, it’s sort of hidden, but the search for a man/love/Prince is still the reigning plot line in the movie, as it is with pretty much all movies for young people which are animated. The sister’s desire to marry this guy she just met, and the other sister getting mad at her — we still have a plot about the identification of a woman being based on her desire and search to meet a man … I’ve had just enough already with this finding a man business in most every kids’ movie.”
OK. Fair enough, the plot ends on a love story. But the reason that “Frozen” has garnered such positive praise is that the search for a man plays is secondary to the love between two strong-willed and powerful sisters. Being awkward, impatient, waking up with drool on your face — these are all seen as endearing (and just, well normal) aspects of life that a girl should embrace rather than hide. Anna is every girl who has made a bad decision about a man. It’s only fair that she gets her happy ending at the end.
While I don’t love the fact that there has to be a love interest in just about every movie for it to be profitable, it’s not something that will just suddenly disappear overnight. “Frozen” is one step on that path.
“What happens in Frozen? The Prince/hero turns out to be a scheming villain. He pretended to love her and then he double crosses her and she gets the lesson taught to her not to trust those nasty scheming conniving men. Because you know, men can’t be trusted? Meh.
So, just so I understand — we’re upset that the movie centers around finding a man but also outraged that said man turns out to be an a**hole? Telling young girls that not every Prince Charming that glances their way will turn out to be that great seems like a reasonable life lesson to me. That being said, let’s not forget Kristof, that shaggy, socially inept, adorable lug of a guy that Anna ends up with at the end. There is hope for all of us.
3) Absurdly tiny waists
“My biggest problem with this movie was the way the female characters are drawn and animated,” the 38-year-old star concluded. “The male characters look like cartoon men. They have some exaggerated features, sure. But by and large, they look like they have the proportions of human beings. Not so with our lead ladies. They have ginormous eyes. Like really ridiculously big. Teeny-tiny ski slope noses … Barbie doll proportions of their bodies in general: tiny waists, ample busts, and huge heads. They look like dolls. They don’t look like the same species as the male characters even! What’s up with that?!”
This one I can get behind. Disney princesses, much like Barbie, are known for their ridiculous proportions. Case-in-point: Princess Jasmine. How can she even breathe?
Mayim Bialik has been active on social media since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, sending thoughts and prayers to her friends and family in Israel.
shabbat shalom, israel.— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) July 11, 2014
apparently wishing a happy sabbath to my family and friends and people in israel constitutes being a baby killer…. http://t.co/5Pai6VXDuD— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) July 11, 2014
Yes, I will be joining Jews all over the world in reciting the Shema at noon today I believe it is.— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) July 28, 2014
But in a personal piece posted on her Kveller blog on Thurday, the “Big Bang Theory” explained her decision to send money to the Israel Defense Forces. The list is simple and to the point:
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”:
I can not Imagine the pain that the families of feel. It's an unspeakable tragedy and my heart breaks… http://t.co/HTQBtd9aLD— Omri Casspi (@Casspi18) June 30, 2014
Actress Mayim Bialik also expressed her grief, declaring that she was signing off from social media as a sign of respect.
Baruch dayan haemet— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) June 30, 2014
No more posting today. The three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were just found dead. Ein milim.— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) June 30, 2014
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!
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.
chag pesach kasher v'sameach israel! (happy passover to everyone in israel and those time zones)— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) April 14, 2014
Chag Sameach to all celebrating!— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) April 14, 2014
How's the chametz hunt going? (Jewish version of an Easter egg hunt)— Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) April 11, 2014
religion isn't a contest but matzah is def more normcore than peeps and cadbury eggs— Tavi Gevinson (@tavitulle) April 11, 2014
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.
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.”
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.
Happy Birthday, Jesus! I'm sorry u were murdered by people afraid of new ideas! XOXOampmdash; Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) December 25, 2013
Seth Rogen binged on TV.
Watched so many movies! Loved: Enough Said, The To Do List, Wolf of Wall Street. Also loved the 35 eps of Law and Order SVU I watched.ampmdash; Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 26, 2013
Elizabeth Banks enjoyed winter views.
Hope it was merry and bright. Before après, it was bright and during it was merry. Now I'm sleepy. pic.twitter.com/D4lPe2ewHyampmdash; Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) December 26, 2013
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:
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.
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.”
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:
With Passover about to start abroad I want to wish all of you celebrating a happy and healthy Pesach!ampmdash; William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 24, 2013
Signing off for the first days of Passover. I’ll be back on the grid Wednesday night. A sweet feast of redemption to all celebrating!ampmdash; Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) March 26, 2013
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.