Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Paul Robeson Sings in Yiddish - "How Does the Czar Drink Tea?"


Paul Robeson was an American bass baritone concert artist and stage and film actor who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism.

In 1928, Robeson played "Joe" in the London production of the American musical Show Boat.  His rendition of Ol' Man River became the benchmark for all future performers of the song.

His political activities began with his involvement with unemployed workers and anti-imperialist students whom he met in Britain and continued with support for the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War and his opposition to fascism. 

In the United States he also became active in the Civil Rights Movement and other social justice campaigns. His sympathies for the Soviet Union and for communism, and his criticism of the United States government and its foreign policies, caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.  

Robeson sang in more than 50 languages and became fluent in more than 10. Although he never achieved complete fluency in Yiddish, he was comfortable speaking and reading it.

As Cantor Sheldon Foster Merel wrote in the San Diego Jewish World this week,
By chance someone just sent me a link to a recording by Robeson in Yiddish. This is a new one, for me. I further learned he had recorded several Yiddish songs and often included them in his concerts.
He began studying Yiddish informally at Columbia University and made several trips to Poland and the Soviet Union where he could speak Yiddish with Jewish activists, poets, and Soviet anti-fascist groups.
He admired poetry of the Yiddish poet Itzik Fifer and visited him while he was languishing in prison.  At a concert in Russia, although Robeson was instructed not to sing any Yiddish nationalistic songs, he nonetheless in defiance sang the Yiddish Partisan song Zog nit keyn mol.  The concert was heard on radio by millions of listeners around the world.
One of the songs that Robeson sang in Yiddish was the old folk song Vi azoy lebt der keyser? (How does the czar live?)

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Comedy Showcase: Russian-American Comedian Kira Soltanovich on Her Snoring Husband


Comedian Kira Soltanovich came to the USA at the age of two with her Russian Jewish parents and has been performing stand-up comedy ever since.

Soltanovich is best known for her work on the prank-oriented reality show Girls Behaving Badly which aired on the Oxygen Network for four seasons and for being the voice of a talking photo booth in a sketch on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Jay Leno Show

She has performed stand-up on Jimmy Kimmel Livei, Last Call with Carson Daly, Last Comic Standing, Hello Ross! and Comedy Central's The World Stands Up. Soltanovich has written for Joan Rivers and Scott Baio as well as for former Disney stars Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber (for the show PrankStars). Her three-year-old son inspired her podcast, The Kira Soltanovich Show, where she interviews fellow comedians who have kids and they discuss all things comedy and colic related. 

One of the classic comedy club routines that resonates with her audiences is her animated description of her husband snoring at night.

Enjoy!

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Monday, July 6, 2020

A Joke to Start the Week - "A Nice Sweater"


It's another Monday, and it's time for another joke to start the week. Here comes another one from Toronto's Jewish Folks Telling Jokes, a night of comedy to benefit Jewish Family and Child, one of the foremost Jewish service agencies in North America. 

We previously posted a few jokes that were told at the event, a Canadian contribution to the world of Jewish humor, probably inspired by the off-Broadway show Old Jews Telling Jokes, still touring around the USA. 

We'll be posting more of these jokes on upcoming Mondays. Here's another one, told by Al Goodman.

Here's the setup: Two young ladies went out to lunch.  The first one says "Sadie, that's a lovely sweater you're wearing." She says 'Thank You.'" And then...

Enjoy!

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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Meet Zevulun, Rice Farmer in Thailand


We knew that many Israelis, after completing their army service, spend time traveling in Thailand. But until now, we hadn't heard of an American Jew from Kansas moving to Thailand to be a rice farmer in a small village.

Rabbi Yoni Golker, a member of the rabbinic team at St. John's Wood and Saatchi Synagogue in London, has started a series of videos portraying Jewish life around the world, including places where you wouldn't expect to see it thriving.

In the middle of the coronavirus lockdowns, while in Jerusalem, Rabbi Golker interviewed Zevulun, the rice farmer in a virtual session between Jerusalem and Thailand.

Rabbi Golker was fascinated to meet Zevulun the rice farmer, from Sakon Nakhon, North East Thailand. Zevulun, originally from the USA, is certainly not your typical Thai farmer. He lives in a 34 acre farm in rural Thailand and is an observant Jew . He wakes up daily before sunrise to pray Shacharit and put on tefillin. He spends one Shabbat a month in Bangkok, returning with a suitcase of kosher chicken and meat. His story is incredible and he is certainly an inspiration!

Enjoy!

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Welcoming Shabbat with Shalom Aleichem by Maayan Choir of Tel Aviv


The Maayan Choir under the musical direction and conductorship of Ms. Anat Morahg is the official choir of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality Department of Performances, comprising  some 45 singers.

The choir singers are graduates of the Rubin Academy of Music Tel Aviv, the School of Choir Singing, music students and graduates of selected youth choirs, performing a varied repertoire including classical, contemporary and Israeli music. 

In this rendition of Shalom Aleichem, the Maayan Choir joined with their partner choir, the Freiburger Bachchor of Freiburg, Germany in a virtual performance.

Enjoy, and Shabbat shalom!

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Throwback Thursday Special Tribute: Carl Reiner Receives the 2000 Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center


Continuing our tribute to master of comedy Carl Reiner, who died on Monday at the age of 98, we've been looking for video clips that showcased his great talents. Because most of his successes were in the writers' room and behind the cameras, it wasn't easy to find a clip that shows him alone, and not in the shadow of the actors and comics who he made famous.

Twenty years ago Reiner received the Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. 

The Mark Twain Prize recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of memorable characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said "against the assault of laughter nothing can stand." 

In his speech accepting the prize, Reiner jokingly hinted that Mark Twain might have been Jewish, with Samuel as his first name and a last name that might have been Cleminsky before changing to Clemens.

Thank you Carl, for almost a century of laughs and good clean comedy. You will be greatly missed.

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#Throwback Thursday    #TBT

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Remembering Carl Reiner - Producer, Director, Actor and Interviewer


The world of tasteful, professional comedy has been in mourning since Carl Reiner died Monday at the age of 98.

Reiner, who worked extensively with Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks in Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour, was the quiet genius who played the straight man to the often loud and boisterous characters played by Caesar and Brooks in their innovative sketch comedy.

Reiner's career spanned seven decades. In addition to his collaborations with Caesar and Brooks, he was also best known as the creator, producer, writer, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

His contributions to Hollywood included his acting in films such as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963); The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966); and the Ocean's film series (2001–2007). He also had great success as a film director and writer and in the 1970s and 1980s. He co-wrote and directed some of Steve Martin's most successful films, including The Jerk (1979), and also directed notable comedies such as Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), and All of Me (1984). 

Reiner's interviewing skills were honed on Your Show and Shows and Caesar's Hour when as an earnest roving reporter, he coaxed hilarious answers from Sid Caesar's loony characters such as The Professor, a daffy expert who bluffed his way through his interviews.
 
If we had to pick a favorite role, it would be as the interviewer of Mel Brooks in his largely ad-libbed portrayal of The 2000 Year Old Man. This now classic skit started out as a joke that Reiner and Brooks performed for their friends at parties. There are many versions of how this joke ended up as a series of live performances and records.

Reiner started bringing a tape recorder to the parties as Brooks never said the same thing twice. George Burns suggested to the two that they put their material on an album, but only Steve Allen managed to coax the two to record it in his studio.

In this video clip from The Conan O'Brien Show, Reiner recounted the chain of events that led to the worldwide success of The 2000 Year Old Man.

Enjoy!!

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Comedy Showcase: British Comedian Ashley Blaker on Observing Shabbat

 
Ashley Blaker is an internationally acclaimed British Orthodox comedian, seen and heard on TV and radio across the world. He has performed on five continents including tours of the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Israel and Australia.
 
His five week run Off-Broadway was called ‘a slickly funny stand-up show’ by the New York Times. In August 2018, Ashley made his debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a sold-out run of his show ‘Observant Jew’.
 
Today we're sharing another one of Ashley Blaker's stand-up routines.  In this video, Ashley reflects on Shabbat prohibitions and accepted ways to get around them.

Enjoy!
 
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Monday, June 29, 2020

A Joke to Start the Day - "A Question for the Local Bank Manager"


Another Monday, and another Joke to Start the Week. Today we're bringing you another joke told by David Apfel. 

Now living in Modiin, Israel, David Apfel is an accomplished entertainer and chazzan. He sings in several languages with repertoire ranging from the musicals to opera. He has officiated internationally at several orthodox synagogues and he also specializes in ''Kosher Komedie''.

Here's the setup for today's Joke: Mr. Goldstein called his bank and wanted to speak with the local branch manager. He kept getting put on hold while recorded messages asked him to be patient until a representative answered. Finally he was able to reach a representative  to ask to be connected to the local branch manager. And then...

Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Coronavirus Chorus: Columbus Jewish Community Unites to Sing Hinei Ma Tov


One of the silver linings in the coronavirus cloud has been the emergence of videoconferencing via Zoom and other interactive media to bring together members of synagogues and other Jewish organizations to participate in group singing and learning together.

Members of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio, led by Rabbi Sharon Mars, joined together in harmony from their homes to sing Hinei Ma Tov to express the hope that soon they will be able to sing together in one location.

Enjoy!

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