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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Bad rap: Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons may show up at Jewish charity events and hang out with Rabbi Marc Schneier, but he's apparently also in bed with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Simmons said that Farrakhan was called in to mediate a feud between rap stars 50 Cent and Ja Rule. "We're concerned with the millions of fans who are watching this and what they see and what they learn from the resolution of this conflict. The media might not understand but people in the hip-hop community do. He is the only person with that sort of influence." And we thought he was on our side.
posted by Benyamin | 6:20 PM | Link | (4) comments |

Friends in strange places: A potpourri of celebs -- both Jewish and not -- Brad Pitt, his wife, Jennifer Aniston, Danny DeVito, Edward Norton and Jason Alexander are among the stars who are planning a peacekeeping mission to Israel. "The past few years of conflict mean that yet another generation of Israelis and Palestinians will grow up in hatred," reads a statement from Pitt and Aniston. "We cannot allow that to happen." However, an Israeli sociologist thinks it's a fruitless endeavor. "From time to time, some celebrities think that they might help, and the media amplifies their mission," he says. "But this is an incredibly complex situation and I am afraid they are naive." We couldn't have said it better.
posted by Benyamin | 6:10 PM | Link | (0) comments |

World's biggest hora: This coming Sunday at the Garden State Jewish Festival, in Lakewood, NJ, organizers hope to break the Guiness record for the world's Largest Circle Dance (aka hora). "The previous record is for 6748 people in the U.K. 1995. We hope to draw up to 7000 people to break the record." (c/o EphShap)
posted by Mobius1ski | 8:34 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Cantor enthusiasts of the world, unite: If you like cantorial music, well your time has come. The fine folks at Cantor's World (that's Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky and Charlie Bernhaut) have created a whole Web site dedicated to expanding our appreciation of chazzanut, or as they put it, "the ultimate in 'Jewish Soul Music.'" The site is dedicated to the memory of Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, and on his 70th yahrzeit a special concert will be performed at Lincoln Center (that's December 21st).

Elsewhere on the site, you can find out more about CDs, concerts, positions, etc. But we ask... were is the cantorial pop? Who is the Justin Timberlake of the cantorial world, and why can we not promote him? Well, we'll take what we can get.
posted by Bradford | 9:11 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Meryl Streep the rabbi: Well, not really. On the set of HBO's upcoming Angels in America (a TV adaptation of the acclaimed play by gay Jewish activist and writer Tony Kushner), Meryl Streep dressed in drag as an Orthodox rabbi and poked fun at Maurice Sendak, who himself was doing a cameo as an Orthodox rabbi. The delightful artist who has wowed children for years with such works as Where the Wild Things Are never took her for who she really was. Sendak, an acclaimed artist in his own right, is good friends with Kushner, and the rib was part of a partical joke played by Kushner on his long-time friend.

But all antics aside, the Jewish auteurs are collaborating on Brundibar, "a picture book based on the opera performed in the 1940's by children in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, and they have designed and translated a new version of the opera." An incredible project indeed, you can read more about it and the Kushner-Sendak friendship courtesy of the New York Times' Books section.
posted by Bradford | 8:58 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Exodus part deux: In case you were wondering, Pharaoh is now safe and sound back home.
posted by Benyamin | 6:22 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Salt Lake saint: It looks like Val Kilmer may have to go back to Sunday School. The actor, who most recently played porn king John Holmes in Wonderland, has been turned down for the role of Mormon founder Joseph Smith. The film is being produced by Zion Films, a Salt-Lake City based company that makes films extolling the virtues of the Mormon religion. "There was a lot of controversy about (the choice of Kilmer) because he doesn’t exactly have a saintly image, either on screen or off," says a source. "But some people thought it was good casting because Smith was charismatic and quite the ladies man." The Ladies Man -- now, that was a good movie.
posted by Benyamin | 8:42 AM | Link | (0) comments |

A bleached blonde moment: In a Newsweek profile, Britney Spears (out promoting her new album) dishes on a myriad of topics including her comlete ignorance of Jewish mysticism. When asked if the pop princess knows what Hinduism is, she quickly replied, "When asked if one of them is Hinduism, she says, "What's that? Is it like kabbalah?" Somewhere, Jessica Simpson and the rest of the dumb blonds are shaking their head.
posted by Benyamin | 8:33 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Monday, October 27, 2003

Party hearty: According to a report by the Associated Press, more adults are celebrating Halloween. If only the same could be said for participation in Jewish festivals.
posted by Benyamin | 3:34 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Stupid pet tricks: For the uninitiated in ultimate stupidity, one of the Web's most diverse stops for novelty gifts is While searching for some Chanukah gifts, we stumbled upon two gems. The first is a menorah made out of women's shoes. Seriously. Each one is a high-heeled shoe with a candle opening on top and, of course, the middle shoes has a higher heel than the rest. The second Jewish gift idea we found are "Chewish" dog toys for, as the site explains, your "Reformed Rottweiler, a Conservative Collie, or an Orthodox Otterhound." Anyone know where can we find some goyishe gummy bears?
posted by Benyamin | 3:26 PM | Link | (0) comments |

The search for Spock: A photograph by famed actor/director/photographer/sexual provocateur Leonard Nimoy has been purchased for the permanent collection of The Jewish Museum in New York City. It was a photo from Nimoy's controversial collection of nude women wearing tefillin which were encapsulated in a coffee table book called Shekhina last year. "The Shekhina project has generated considerable conversation and provided illumination for myself and hopefully for others," says Nimoy. "I'm honored by the Jewish Museum's decision to include a print from this work in their collection." Honored, disgraced, whatever.
posted by Benyamin | 2:13 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Too surreal: We'd love to say that Jewish porn legend Ron Jeremy has stooped to new lows, but we're such fans of The WB's guilty pleasure reality show Surreal Life, that we love to congratulate him. It was announced this week that Jeremy will become one of eight elf-effacing B-list celebs who will live in a Hollywood home together for two weeks under the surveillance of 24 hour cameras. Other houseguests will include former televangelist wife Tammy Faye Messner and rapper Vanilla Ice. The show, which is currently being taped, will air in six half-hour installments early next year. We're waiting with baited breath.
posted by Benyamin | 1:52 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Masterpiece theater: Snubbed from last year's competition, the Palestinian film Divine Intervention will be getting a second shot at an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. "This year the committee decided to treat Palestine as an exception in the same way we treat Hong Kong as an exception," academy spokesman John Pavlik said. "It’s always the goal of the foreign-language film award executive committee to be as inclusive as possible. And they always bend over backward to do so." If this in any way means we can take away the undeserved Oscar from The Pianist, then we're all for it.
posted by Benyamin | 1:39 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Jehovah's prince: Our friends over at bring us this little gem. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, now a Jehovah's Witness, interrupted a Minnesota family's Yom Kippur preparations and proselytized to them for about 25 minutes. Too weird.
posted by Benyamin | 9:24 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Martha Stewart may not like you: Martha Stewart's legal troubles don't seem to be getting any better. She was hit with a barrage of lawsuits recently, one of which was a religious discrimination suit filed by an irate Jewish former employee who claims he was wrongfully terminated. Avner Elizarov, a software employee who joined Martha Stewart Omnimedia in June 2002, began running into problems when he became more religiously observant and began wearing a yarmulke, says lawyer Daniel Kaiser. The suit says his supervisor started making "anti-Semitic remarks to him." It claims the situation worsened when Elizarov asked to take vacation time during Passover and his boss told him "Jewish people like to stay home and do nothing ... I would like to give you [a] vacation for the rest of your life." A vacation? Anyone who's celebrated Passover knows it's no vacation.
posted by Benyamin | 5:42 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Frankly speaking: While out promoting his new book, satirist Al Franken talked about his version of Judaism. "My wife is a fallen Roman Catholic," he told the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. "We don’t belong to a shul, and my kids have really been raised with no formal religious education, but they definitely consider themselves culturally Jewish. Partly it is growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was quite the opposite of my experience."
posted by Benyamin | 5:32 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Thank God: It seems Jewish magician David Blaine has newfound respect for God. After completing a stunt where he was locked in a glass box dangling above the River Thames River in London, he told reporters, "I learned to appreciate all the simple things in life. A smile from a stranger, the sunrise, the sunset, everything that God has given us."
posted by Benyamin | 5:16 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Religion to the stars: It seems a week can't go by without Kabbalah's celebrity adherents making some sort of news. And this week is no different. According to reports, Mick Jagger's ex wife Jerry Hall stormed out of her Kabbalah class after the group's leaders pressured her to hit up her wealthy friends for donations. Those pushy tactics don't seem to have deterred Paul McCartney's daughter Stella from seeking out the spiritual guidance of Kabbalists. Her good friend Madonna has convinced McCartney that studying Jewish mysticism will help her conceive. "Madonna has been using kabbalah teaching to try to have a baby and she has told Stella that it can really help her," a source told the Daily Mail. And also this week, Madonna wannabe Britney Spears sported a red string Kabbalah bracelet during her performance on this week's Saturday Night Live.
posted by Benyamin | 4:47 PM | Link | (0) comments |

'Runaway' success: British born Jewish actress Rachel Weisz got the gig of a lifetime starring opposite Hollywood legends Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, and John Cusack in the new film Runaway Jury, an adaptation of John Grisham's 1996 best-selling book. "It was such an honor working with these three men because actors don't come much better," says Weisz whose films include The Mummy, Enemy at the Gates, About a Boy, and Confidence. "There was certainly a level of fear when I had to shoot my scenes with Gene Hackman, but that worked really well for the film. My character is terrified of him."
posted by Benyamin | 4:33 PM | Link | (0) comments |

The Jewish CNN: All Jewish, all the time. That's what veteran French television correspondent Daniel Maillot is hoping for with Chai TV, a Paris-based channel set to launch early next year that will focus on news from the Middle East and carry films about Jewish life and history. There will be no live broadcasts on Shabbat. "I don't think Jerry Seinfeld or Woody Allen would like to watch an ethnic channel," Maillot said. "But if, among the international channels, there's one that touches a Jewish chord in them, they'll watch it." Um, we didn't realize that was his target audience.
posted by Benyamin | 4:20 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Power broker: Jewish movie and television uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, riding high with Pirates of the Caribbean and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, received the number one spot on Entertainment Weekly's annual list of the most powerful figures in show biz. "The man is no longer just a canny packager of talent and content with a fat back-end," the magazine writes. "Bruckheimer has become a brand." Other Jews on the list include Steven Spielberg, Jeff Zucker, Harvey Weinstein, and, of course, Jon Stewart.
posted by Benyamin | 4:05 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Hi. My name is Woody Allen and I'm an idiot: Jewish auteur and pro-France advocate Woody Allen is shopping around a proposal for an autobiography of his life. In exchange, he's asking for $10 million. "One selling point to begin with is that I do have some ability to write. It's not an 'as told to' book, nor is it written by an actor or director who has no experience with prose ... The drawback is that it would take me between six months and a year to really do a fine job and it's hard to imagine there's enough money out there to make me take the time away from film or theater to do it." Hey Woody, we've seen your last three movies. Go write the book.
posted by Benyamin | 3:49 PM | Link | (0) comments |

God bless America, we think: As if we needed more holidays to celebrate, now the U.S. House of Representatives comes along and establishes "Jewish History Month". Under the House legislation, September 2004 (which coincides with the 350th anniversary of Jews' arrival in North America, would mark the first "Jewish History Month," in much the same way that "Black History Month" and "Hispanic Heritage Month" commemorate the contributions of African Americans and US Latinos. Somewhere, we can only imagine, Strom Thurmond is rolling in his grave.
posted by Benyamin | 3:43 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Barking up the wrong tree: A German man who taught his dog Adolf to give a Hitler salute by raising his right paw has been charged with violating Germany's anti-Nazi laws for a series of incidents in recent years, a Berlin court said last week. No word yet on whether the ADL will start teaching dogs to kiss the mezuzah.
posted by Benyamin | 3:35 PM | Link | (0) comments |

The music man ... not: Apparently, Democratic presidential hopeful and observant Jew Joseph Lieberman is not willing to let people know what his musical preferences are. The new issue of Blender magazine features a list of what each Democratic nominee listens to (John Kerry loves John Lennon, Dick Gephardt loves Eric Clapton, etc.), but Lieberman opted to diss the music magazine. "I don't want to make too much of it," says editor Craig Marks, "but I'd venture a guess that Lieberman is the least sympathetic toward the popular culture, and the least sympathetic to rock 'n'roll and pop music." Perhaps he's embarrassed by his choices of Ofra Haza and Mordechai ben-David.
posted by Benyamin | 2:35 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Sofer so good: Rena Sofer didn't exactly do what her father, an Orthodox rabbi, wanted her to do. "My dad said, 'There's good money in speech pathology and that's what you should be.' And all I could think was, 'Dear God, I don't even know what a speech pathologist is!'" Instead, the 34-year-old actress is starring in the sexually provocative NBC sitcom Coupling in which she bared her breasts in the first episode. We can only assume her dad is proud.
posted by Benyamin | 2:27 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Swim fan: A British man failed in his attempt to swim from Cyprus to Israel. "He told police he was trying to swim to Jerusalem from Protaras," a police spokeswoman told Reuters, referring to a popular tourist resort on the southeastern coast. Y'know, there are easier ways to get to Jerusalem.
posted by Benyamin | 1:59 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Sinning 101: If a Greek Orthodox bishop has his way, Johnny Teenager may find it harder to sin in school. Bishop Athanassios, a youthful and popular religious figure according to published reports, wants to install confessionals in high schools. Looks like no more checking out Jewsweek during homeroom.
posted by Benyamin | 1:50 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Rocking the house with Mother Teresa: Roman audiences were kicking it back old school style last week as they watched the arrival of "Mother Teresa the Musical", a show filled with reggae, funk and pop tunes. Thos show coincided with the sixth yahrtzeit of Teresa.
posted by Benyamin | 1:41 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Compass connection: The Protocols Blog points us to the Gizmodo Blog which introduces us to the new Mecca Phone. As they explain it: "LG's new G5300 cellphone has a feature aimed specifically for the Middle Eastern market: a compass that can automatically point the user towards Mecca when it's time for prayer. They eventually plan to expand sales of the phones to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia which also have large Moslem populations." Brings new meaning to phone home.
posted by Benyamin | 1:37 PM | Link | (0) comments |

What if God was one of us?: That's the question being asked by the new CBS show Joan of Arcadia. "Thankfully, Joan of Arcadia is not a Christian ethics procedural a la Touched by an Angel and lacks the wall-to-wall moral carpeting of 7th Heaven," writes Austin Bunn in a recent article. "It's better, darker, more satisfyingly indirect and consciously architected than either of its overtly spiritualized predecessors." True, but it's still no Highway to Heaven.
posted by Benyamin | 1:30 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Saturday, October 18, 2003

Model citizens: Israel took top honors at last week's Fashion TV Model Awards, with Israeli model Hen Shiloni (pictured) winning one of three "Internet awards" and Tami Tasker one of three official awards. Now there're a couple good excuses for Jewish continuity.
posted by Mobius1ski | 12:16 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Thursday, October 16, 2003

Religion, politics and myth: Steven Waldman, editor-in-Chief of Beliefnet, has by way of Slate magazine kindly helped debunk the many myths about religion and politics. As it turns out, contrary to popular opinion, evangelical Christians routinely vote for Democrats. Turnout among the religious right varies as well, and standard Democratic bases such as Jews vote more consistently and in larger percentages. Secular Democrats, however, will not be pleased to learn that Bush's religious talk doesn't alienate most Americans, and that larger majorities consider the amount of attention he gives to his faith to be just about right. Nevertheless, Muslims, evangelical Christians and atheists all have a harder time sitting well with voters than Jewish candidates or Catholics.

The myths, and there are more of them, are debunked based on a few surveys including a Pew study and the work of University of Akron professor John Green, who's research on religious voting behavior has been of enormous help to politicians and scholars alike. Maybe Green could help us figure out if Jews are going to vote more Republican?
posted by Bradford | 2:16 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Reel Jews: For all those New Yorkers jonesing for a Jewish film fix, the 92nd Street Y has your back, by way of the Reel Jews Film Festival (fourth annual, ya know). Running from October 26 to November 2, it'll feature films on the Jewish American president of Guyana, IDF conscientious objectors, and sumo wrestling. In case you were wondering about that last one, know that these films are not all about Jewish subjects. The festival "instead looks for the “Jewish-ness” inherent in the films, whether it is manifested in social consciousness and a dedication to justice, identification with “the outsider,” or in a cultural heritage built on questioning and argument."

Don't worry, most of the films are actually about Jewish subjects. As for all of us at Jewsweek, we'll just focus on one film in particular, Company Jasmine. It's all about five female IDF cadets. Mmm... Israeli women. It's good to be Jewish.
posted by Bradford | 2:06 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Friday, October 10, 2003

All aboard: Our friends over at tell us about Israel's plan to have Orthodox-only public buses where women board from the rear. The, um, back door policy is obviosuly upsetting some people.
posted by Benyamin | 8:00 AM | Link | (0) comments |

Madonna milestone: It wouldn't be a yada blog without some sort of Madonna mention. So here goes: This week, she announced that her children's kabbalah book, "The English Roses", has sold 500,000 copies in its first month of publication. "Madonna is using the power of her fame to encourage and inspire children how to live life rightly and thoughtfully," says publisher Nicholas Callaway. If only real Jewish books were so popular.
posted by Benyamin | 7:48 AM | Link | (0) comments |

Could Shtetl-opoloy be far behind?: Ghettopoly.
posted by Benyamin | 7:32 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Thursday, October 09, 2003

Jews for Ahnold: Well, in this case just one Jew in particular. For anybody looking to label newly minted California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Hitler-loving anti-Semite, don't look to the Simon Wiesenthal Center for help. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean, has accepted a post on the actor-turned-politico's transition team. "Arnold has been our No. 1 supporter in the entertainment industry and he is certainly an anti-Nazi," said Cooper.

Not for nothing, but some people have had their doubts. Arnold's dad was a Nazi storm trooper in Austria. He supported former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim after it was shown he'd participated in Nazi atrocities, and he was quoted as admiring Hitler, though those charges are in doubt. Whether the Terminator is anti-Jewish is up for debate, we suppose, but he did make it in Hollywood didn't he?
posted by Bradford | 7:20 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Luther the movie: There seems to be a rash of movies coming out about Christian figures who didn't end up being very good for the Jews. The most recent example is "Luther," which documents the life of Martin Luther. The father of Lutheranism, and arguably of the entire Protestant Reformation, the former Catholic made a name for himself by rebelling against the church's sale of indulgences and general corruption.

What may be of interest is his position on Jews. Initially, Luther preached tolerance believing that Jews had refused to convert only because they were discriminated against. Problem was, us Jews actually didn't want to convert. When we didn't exactly pony up to the baptismal pool, Luther got a little miffed. In his work "On the Jews and Their Lies," he recommended among other things that Germans, "set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them" and "I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam."

Gee, we can't quite remember where we've heard a German say that before. No word yet on whether the film addresses this aspect of Luther's life.
posted by Bradford | 1:41 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Tzniut Barbie?: Well, no. Actually the latest addition to the doll market is a modest, Muslim Barbie who's not even made by Mattel. "Razanne" comes complete with hijab, the headscarf and modest attire. Future dolls include "Dr. Razanne," "Astronaut Razanne," and "Muslim Girl Scout Razanne." The doll even is spared the fate of so many Barbies, forced exposure: "'Jenna never tried to take Razanne's hijab (head scarf) off, though Barbie was usually stripped naked,' [Mimo Debryn] said as her daughter, 11, curled up on the couch and smiled."

All of this comes after failed attempts to develop an Islamic alternative to Barbie, and after Saudi Arabia declared Barbie dolls as a threat to morality. The Arab League tried to develop "Laila," but never put anything on store shelves. Iran has a version, but it lacks mass appeal. We'd like to know, however, when we'll be getting Orthodox Jewish Barbie? It wouldn't be so hard. A little wig hear, long skirt there, and voila. Call it JAP Barbie and you wouldn't even have to lose the Gucci glamour.

Ken, however... his Jewish makeover is going to take some work.
posted by Bradford | 4:23 PM | Link | (0) comments |

The joyful Jewish jazzman: We do so love it when a nice Jewish boy finds his roots. That's the case with John Zorn, who lived up to his name (Zorn is German for anger) by belting out the angriest tunes of the 1980s. Then the composer and saxophonist found Judaism, or rather rediscovered his Jewish roots. "He found a paradoxical sense of belonging and community in this realization, decided to celebrate it in his music, and thus was born the band he called Masada—named after the mountain-fortress where a group of 1st-century Jewish rebels committed suicide rather than surrender to the Roman conquerors."

He's happier now, not the least bit suicidal, and celebrating the 10th anniversary with some of the best joyful jazz you'll find anywhere. We're not musical types, but we've learned there are two "Jewish scales" (a major scale with the second note flat or a minor scale with the fourth note sharp -- if you say so) and all the songs composed for Masada have followed one simple rule. They have to be composed in one of these two scales. Today he leads up a slew of ensembles, including one called Bar Kokhba. The guy has a serious fetish with suicidal Jews, but we say whatever makes you happy man. Keep up all that jazz.
posted by Bradford | 12:22 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Gym Jews: Forget the stereotypes about diminutive Jewish guys and Jewesses only interested in shopping and nagging. Meet Abe and Esther Cohen (no relation to Jewsweek's fearless uber-athelete editor, Benyamin Cohen). He does at least a couple hundred crunches when he works out every day. She does around 400. He's 92. She's 86. Their 2-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week workout regimen at the local Bally's Gym has gone on for 27 years. That's 19,656 hours of exercise since he was 65 and she was 59. It's also about 4 million ab crunches -- just for Esther.

Numbers aside, the Jewish super-duo are usually in the gym by 6:15 each morning. But what's more laudable than that is their upcoming wedding anniversary. It'll be their 67th. "We don’t envy nobody, and we are grateful for what we have," says Abe. Well forgive us, because we envy you.
posted by Bradford | 12:14 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Dost the tide turneth?: A new website, organized by the conservative Christian women's group Women Influencing the Nation, is rushing to the defense of Mel Gibson's controversial film, The Passion. The site features a petition, apparently including signatures from 71 countries, as well as articles on the film and controversy and a background that claims: "This battle has become a focal point for the Culture War which will determine the future of our country and the world."

Ummm... overstatement much? Nonetheless, the site's launch comes at a time when Gibson is getting backed up by increasing numbers of Jewish figures. There's the now-yanked American Jewish Committee report claiming the Talmud shows Jewish complicity in Jesus' death. The AJC nipped it in the bud. Nonetheless, author and AJC honcho Steven Bayme stands by it. Then there's Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Orthodox rabbi and ally of conservative Christians everywhere, who took his fellow Jews to task for moral hypocrisy in criticizing Gibson. And that's just the tip of the Jew vs. Jew iceberg on Gibson's film. Isn't this fun, everyone?
posted by Bradford | 12:01 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Trembling Before G-d DVD To Drop This Month: "On October 21, marking the 2nd anniversary of its theatrical launch where it has since played in 85 cities across North America, comes the DVD and VHS release of Trembling Before G-d, the critically acclaimed documentary film by Sandi DuBowski that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality and religious fundamentalism. Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality. Trembling Before G-d will be released on a deluxe two-disc DVD set loaded with special features including a 40-minute featurette 'Trembling on the Road,' a look at the life-changing movement of the film around the world, 'Mark: the Musical,' 'Behind the Silhouettes,' director interviews, deleted scenes and much more."

Sometimes you just can't say it better than the press release...
posted by Mobius1ski | 7:33 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Thursday, October 02, 2003

Black and white: Our friends over at point us to a story in the Bismark Tribune about what apparently is the world's first African-American female rabbi. "Over the years at various times, people have tried to make it seem like being African-American and being Jewish are mutually exclusive," says 40-year-old Alysa Stanton. "But I'm living proof that the two are not mutually exclusive. I'm African-American, and I'm Jewish and I'm proud to be both."

Paging Anthony Hopkins.
posted by Benyamin | 10:00 AM | Link | (0) comments |

You're not in the mood? Who cares?: As if Dr. Laura needs any more bad publicity after denouncing her Judaism, the pop therapist is finding herself ensconced in another media maelstrom. In her upcoming book called "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, she advocates the obligation of the wife to, um, satisfy her husband regardless of whether or not she's in the mood.

According to a story in the New York Post Dr. Laura points out that, "If husbands are expected to 'go to work and earn money' and visit relatives they don't like, she argues, why can't their wives put out on demand? She also describes other ways a woman can make her marriage flourish: by making her husband her No. 1 priority; by not nagging, nitpicking or whining ('Be honest, girls, this is what we do') and by seeing her husband for what he is: 'a gift from God,' and respecting him accordingly.

We have the distinct feeling her advice won't be warmly welcomed with her female audience. But, as for her male listeners ...
posted by Benyamin | 9:51 AM | Link | (0) comments |

Kidman loves kikes: In the upcoming film The Human Stain, based on the popular Philip Roth novel and due out later this month, Nicole Kidman goes ga-ga for a Jewish guy. Well, sort of. The film tells the ill-fated tale of Coleman Silk (played by Anthony Hopkins), a light-skinned African-American classics professor in a small New England college town, who has spent his professional life pretending to be Jewish. Kidman, playing a janitor (a janitor?), falls for Hopkin's Viagra-popping Yid. A heated love affair, followed by the usual jealous husband trying to reveal the religious secret, ensues.

If only we had known Kidman was interested in the smart Jewish type when we were going through our awkward pubescent Bar Mitzvah stage.
posted by Benyamin | 9:27 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Sex didn't kill him...: But a heart attack finally did. The deceased in question is Brian Florence, who briefly shot to fame after having sex with his girlfriend in St. Patrick's Cathedral while the "Opie & Andy" show broadcast a play-by-play over the radio. The man was to enter a guilty plea in court, but his lawyers explained that he had kicked the bucket and would thus be unavailable for such things. Florence was only 38.

Now, not to speak ill of the dead, but this is a guy who had sex in "a Disney store, the F.A.O. Schwarz toy store, the Carnegie Deli, an ATM vestibule, the back seat of a taxi and a hotel lobby" before heading into the church for some more nookie. He did it all in one day, and that didn't set his ticker off? Perhaps God is benevolent after all.
posted by Bradford | 4:08 PM | Link | (0) comments |

A priest as a robber walks into a bank: Oh the jokes we could make, but seriously the actions of Pentecostal minister Jerry Hayes are definitely not kosher. The 52-year-old Maine clergyman has been moonlighting as a bank robber, making off with $10,000 in loot and laundering it through his church, the Shema First Apostolic Assembly in Canton, Maine. Hayes has pled guilty to the robberies, but no word yet on his motivation. Perhaps the Holy Spirit moved him to punish the money lenders.
posted by Bradford | 3:57 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Animals in happily wedded peace: Speaking of oddball marriages, it doesn't get any odder than the recent nuptials of 18 pairs of "birds, animals and crabs in the southern city of Madras" India. Believe it or not, Hindu priests married the creatures in order to promote world peace, combat terrorism, and reduce pollution. Well, nothing else has worked so far. Why not? Nonetheless, it's pretty clear these guys aren't in step with Jewish theology: "God is closer to nature and creatures than he is to man. It is therefore necessary that all creatures should be worshipped and protected." We would quibble, but if it puts a little more lovin' in the world, who are we to complain?
posted by Bradford | 3:46 PM | Link | (0) comments |

A wedding to spite all weddings: And you thought Jewish weddings were an affair. By way of the al-Watan newspaper in Saudi Arabia, we've learned of a man who married four women at the same time. Now, by Saudi standards, this isn't notable. You're allowed to marry up to four women simultaneously, but this guy's motives easily earn him the title of "Most Married Meshugener." Apparently, after being estranged from his previous wife, he was a little miffed when she proclaimed, "no woman would ever marry him." In order to prove his mojo was still intact, he swore to marry four women and prove her wrong.

Honestly, we don't know what to say to this. Mazel tov... or something.
posted by Bradford | 3:39 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Give tzedakah to Kiss: Some musicians are having a hard time making a buck in this day and age of downloadable digital music. Not to worry. They can still make money on hawking t-shirts and backstage passes at their concerts. As Reuters reports: "Kiss offered 20 seats from the front three rows, which normally are priced at $125, for $1,000 each. For the extra cost, fans meet the band backstage, get an autograph and have their picture taken with the veteran rockers famed for their kabuki-style make-up, on-stage pyrotechnics and devoted fans." Israeli born lead singer of Kiss, Gene Simmons, is sure using his yiddishe kup.
posted by Benyamin | 2:51 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Soferet Scribes First Scroll: "Aviel Barclay is about to become—as far as she knows—the first woman ever to scribe a Torah scroll. Kadima, a congregation in Seattle, Washington, has commissioned the 34-year-old Sofer Stam, Jewish ritual scribe, to write a scroll for them. The congregation searched for a female scribe for years before finding Aviel: The union of a woman Sofer Stam and Kadima may be history in the making."

Ay, if they can layn it, they can scribe it too.
posted by Mobius1ski | 2:45 PM | Link | (0) comments |

From material girl to spiritual girl: Not showing any signs of giving up, Madonna is continuing to publicly show off her newfound religion. She caused quite a stir last Friday night when she attended Rosh Hashanah services in New York City. Then, earlier this week, she showed up for a book signing of her Kabbalah kids book in what had to be the most tzniut (modest) outfit we've ever seen. She was wearing a wool suit and boots, which practically covered her entire body. In an interview with Diane Sawyer this week, Madonna took advantage of the Ted Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to cleanse her soul of previous sins. "I think there's been a lot of times where I wish I wouldn't have said something that was unkind or, you know, acted selfishly or egotistically," Madonna told Sawyer. "When I was just looking straight forward and I had blinders, and I didn't care about how my behavior affected other people, and I was thinking 'oh, you know, just give me more, just give me more.' I mean, you know, fame is very intoxicating."
posted by Benyamin | 1:54 PM | Link | (0) comments |

Nazi half-time show?: Picture it. You're at a high school football game. Half-time arrives, and out marches the band dressed in full uniform with feathers leaping from their hats. They break into a rousing rendition of Franz Joseph Haydn's "Deutschland Uber Alles." As they play, one of their members goes running across the field carrying a bright, colorful Nazi flag. Oh yeah, and the whole thing takes place on Rosh Hashana.

Believe it or not, this whole affair took place last weekend in Texas, not sixty years ago in Germany. "We had an error in judgment," band director Charles Grissom told the Dallas Morning News. No kidding. Allegedly the flap took place during a show meant to depict the warring nations of World War II, but visitors didn't get the point. In response, the band has removed the Nazi flag and will instead display only the American stars and stripes in future performances.
posted by Bradford | 12:25 PM | Link | (0) comments |
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