Hostess with the mostess: The wait is finally over. Monica Lewisnky is returning to primetime television. We were beginning to wonder when she would get around to reinventing her career. The Jewish intern, who almost singlehandedly, um, took down the Clinton administration, is looking to be remembered for something other than making the former Prez pretty happy on occassion. She has stroke a deal with those noble proprietors of fine television -- Fox to host a new reality show entitled Mr. Personality. In the show, to air in April, a young woman will have to choose a man based only on their personalities -- she will not be able to see their masked appearances. In a prepared statement issued by Fox, Lewinsky said, "Since Fox is the network that has had the greatest success with this genre, I was very excited when they approached me to host the show. It sounds like good fun." Somewhere we know Bill Clinton is getting a good laugh out of this.
It's a Haleva job: 56-year-old Jerry Haleva has been getting a lot of press lately. The Jewish contract lobbyist has a very interesting side job -- he plays Saddam Hussein on television and in the movies. The California Haleva bears an uncanny resemblance to the mass murderer and has appeared as Hussein in such movies at Hot Shots!, The Big Lebowski, and most recently Live from Baghdad. The media just can't seem to get enough of Haleva, who actually does pro-Israel work with AIPAC in his spare time. Articles about the Jewish Saddam lookalike have cropped up in local Jewish papers as well as Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times. "Being active in the Jewish community, I thought it was humorous that I might double as an Arab dictator," he says. However, it appears the novelty is wearing off a bit and beginning to take its toll. Haleva told Jewsweek last week that he is doing less press and, ever since the onset of war with Iraq, had become weary of the spotlight. After all, he pointed out, is it really a good thing?
Guilty pleasure of the week: Ron Jeremy is not the kind of person you want to bring home to your parents. In fact, he's not the kind of person you want to take anywhere. The self-proclaimed Jewish shlub, for those of you in the dark when it comes to X-rated cinema, is the king of porn films appearing in such high-brow fare as Swinging in the Rain and Ally McFeal . He's a legend -- so much so that last year somebody had the audacity to make a documentary about the Bronx-born Jew entitled "Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy". Well, keep an eye on your kids next time you stop into Blockbuster. The revealing documentary has just arrived in video stores for our viewing pleasure.
Die another day: This may be a case where the old phrase "blame it on the Jews" may actually be true. According to a published report, a Jewish man claims that he saved Saddam's life by convincing the despot's mother not to kill herself when she was pregnant with baby Saddam. The story comes up everytime we go to war with Iraq and appeared in an Israeli newspaper in 1991 in an interview with a University of Haifa expert on Iraq who claims he spoke with someone who knows someone who told them the story. Another few degrees and Kevin Bacon would've showed up. Family members of the old lady who claims firsthand knowledge of the incident say she's just that -- a delusional old woman and the story is merely family legend. Why this stuff doesn't make the nightly news is beyond us.
Unfashionable behavior: Why are all Jewish fashion designers going insane all of a sudden? With two minutes to go in a recent New York Knicks-Toronto Raptors game at Madison Square Garden, New York guard Latrell Sprewell was preparing to inbound a ball when he realized a fan was standing right next to him on the court, mumbling something semi-coherent and grabbing Sprewell by the arm. It was none other than Jewish fashion icon and Knicks fan Calvin Klein. The incident hasn't been good for Klein's public relations department. In other news of deranged Jewish fashion designers, a new book out claims Ralph Lauren is gripped by insecurity. The book, entitled Genuine Authentic, claims Lauren has felt inadequate his whole life because his mom always wanted him to be a rabbi. Oy, my son the rich world-famous fashion designer.
Joe redux: Speaking of new videos, obscure movie house Seventh Art Releasing has just completed a new documentary about the 2000 vice-presidential campaign of Joseph Lieberman called "Only in America" which you can purchase off their Web site. We here at the yada, yada, yada blog got our hands on a special sneak preview of the film and have to say we're quite impressed. Although the film is dubiously one-sided (aren't all documentaries?), filmmaker Ron Frank does a nice job following Lieberman on the campaign trail and catching his boyish charm at work as Lieberman himself is utterly surprised that he got chosen. A little too much self-serving nachas shepping for our tastes, but still an enjoyable trip on the campaign trail that made history.
And the award for worst expression of Jewish guilt goes to John Kerry: John Kerry's absurd presidential campaign got a little loonier this week. As was widely reoprted earlier this year, the Democratic presidential hopeful "suddenly" discovered that he had Jewish ancestors. He immediately began using the newfound knowledge to his advantage -- inserting random Yiddish phrases into his speeches and overall courting the Jewish vote. Then word came from Kerry's office that the former Irishman would not attend a St. Patrick's Day breakfast fundraiser in Boston because of his recent prostate cancer surgery. Most everyone assumed that he didn't show up because of newly-dsicovered Jewish heritage. "No matter who you are, everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day ... Except John Kerry," joked state Sen. John A. Hart Jr., the Democratic host of Sunday's event. Surprising even his own handlers, Kerry startled the packed crowd by showing up, then taking jabs at himself. "So who said I don't have the matzoh balls to be here?" Kerry asked. Seriously, that's what he said.
License to thrill: I think we all need to calm down a little. With terror threats looming overhead, a group of Miami Jews are upset over the most ridiculous of subjects. South Florida's Gilbert Tabares Gomer, a Cuban Jew, will be allowed to proclaim his ethnic pride with the "JEWBAN" license plate on his convertible. originally, the DMV would not allow proud Jew to display this because other Jews thought it was an anti-Semitic slur. The word ''Jewban'' dates back to the late 1960s, when the Cuban Hebrew Congregation of Miami printed a monthly bulletin titled JEWBAN. The issue caused a flurry of letters to Miami newspapers, obviously in support of Gomer. ''I really object to the increasing senseless loss of freedoms,'' wrote one Laura Mintz. "Would it be less offensive if Mr. TG painted an accent over the `Jew' part of 'Jewban,' or changed the plate to 'Juban' (would the Cubans complain?) or would 'Cubish' be acceptable to all groups except perhaps mathematicians?''
Let's talk about sex, baby:Leonard Nimoy, move over. You've officially been replaced as the go-to guy when the media is talking about Judaism and sex. Thanks to the likes of Kosher Sex author and Jewsweek columnist Shmuley Boteach, we're all keenly aware of the holiness of sex within the realm of religion. A new exhibit set to open this week at the Jewish Museum of Australia is called Under the Covers -- Love, Sex and Intimacy in Jewish Life and deals with such taboo topics as masturbation, menstruation, and breasts. In two concurrent exhibits, aptly titled My Clean Days and My Marriage Bed, a calender documents a woman's menstrual cycles during her decade-long marriage to an Orthodox rabbi, while an overhead video projects each month onto a bed of handkerchiefs -- an allusion to the way she had checked for "cleanliness". The, um, titilating exhibit runs through June.
A book by any other name: On the surface, a new book by famed author Jon Krakauer seems to tackle the problem of rising religious fanaticism in America. The book, entitled "The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith" is due to come out later this year in conjunction with the 9/11 anniversary. But a careful look reveals that the book, contrary to popular belilef, was not written in response to September 11th and has nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalists. Can you guess which radical religion is being targeted in the book? Yep, you guessed it -- the polygamy-practicing renegade Mormons. Krakhauer says the book is his attempt "to understand religious passion and the terrible things people do...in the name of God." Donny Osmond, you've been warned.
Who said there's no such thing as a free dinner? Dinner was on Saddam Hussein Wednesday night as he doled out an excess of $260,000 to 26 families of Palestinian's who blew themselves up in the name of Allah. As was reported Thursday by the Associated Press, relatives of Palestinian suicide bombers took part in a large banquet in Gaza City where each family was handed a $10,000 check. No word on (a) if they actually have a bank account to deposit said check and (b) what was on the menu.
Abusing the system: Recent happenings regarding abuse by Orthodox rabbis continue to beg the question of how the scandal might be brought to an end. First, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, who led a rabbinic court that failed to find Rabbi Baruch Lanner guilty of sexual abuse in 1990 (though Lanner was convicted earlier this year in a New Jersey court) apologized to a few of his more vocal accusers, although he failed to address any remorse to the victims. Then, an article in a student newspaper this week revealed allegations of improper conduct by a rabbi at Yeshivat Derech Etz Chaim in Israel. The rabbi was the subject of allegations of abuse in California in 1983, but was allowed to avoid criminal proceedings in exchange for a promise not to involve himself in education in the future. The article, however, did not name the rabbi or discuss the specific allegations made against him, failing an opportunity to warn the Jewish community about him.
Spielberg goes Sabra: Famed Jewish director Steven Spielberg is reportedly going to be filming his next movie in Israel. An article in the online magazine Israel21c.org reported that the Hollywood director is going to the Holy land: Spielberg has spoken to Zvi Spielman of the Israfilm company in the past regarding of an idea for a film that focused on the origins of the Israeli Air Force. In an interview with Ma'ariv in 1998, Spielberg said that his idea involved the American pilots who came to Israel after WW II and trained Israeli pilots. He said in that interview that the source of his idea was a meeting he had with an El Al pilot who invited him to sit with him in the cockpit when he flew from New York to Tel Aviv."
Arrested development: What seemed like a big piece of news this week ended up relegated to the back of most newspapers. An Argentine judge asked Interpol to arrest four Iranian diplomats on Friday -- including Moshen Rabbani, former cultural attache in the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires -- for alleged involvement in a 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center that killed 85 people. "We understand that they bear some responsibility for the commission of the attack against AMIA," said a source close to the case. As Ha'aretz Dailyreported, the arrests were based on an investigation that has been underway in the last few years, and on a secret document prepared by Argentina's intelligence service.
Highway to heaven: New signs on a main road through Jerusalem direct Jews of the priestly class to move into the fast lane -- literally. It's not a social recommendation -- it's meant to prevent them from running afoul of a Torah commandment. The signs guiding priests (kohanim) into the left lane to skirt a cemetery were posted recently on the four-lane highway running from north to south in Jerusalem between the Jewish and Arab sections of the city. As was reported in our sister publication, Israel Insider, cemeteries honeycomb the area and often prevented kohanim from passing through. Since the signs were posted that alert the kohanim to move to a separate lane, there have been no complaints of increased traffic on the highway.
Off key: It seems you can't walk into a synagogue these days without hearing the melodic tunes of the late Shlomo Carlebach. That tune the leader is singing? Nine times out of ten it was written by the 60's singer and kabbalist. As well, many Jewish songwriters are using updated versions of his melodies on their own CDs. As was reported in last week's issue of The Forward, Carlebach's two daughters -- Neshama and Nedara -- filed suit in a Manhattan federal court against eight companies for copyright infringement of their father's music. While the suit doesn't go after synagogue cantors, it does attack both pirated and legitimate recordings produced by their father.