Friday, October 31, 2014

If Halloween Were a Jewish Holiday...


Tonight, while we celebrate Shabbat, most Americans will dress up in funny costumes and take their kids around the neighborhood collecting candy from their neighbors.

Why? It's Halloween, of course, the secular holiday that had its origins in pagan and Catholic rituals, but today is largely devoid of them.

Rabbi Mendy Pellin, the Chabad comedian who heads up Jewbellish, a funny Jewish web site, wondered if Halloween were a Jewish holiday, what rules would the rabbis cook up to control every aspect of its observance, much the way we have detailed times and measurements for all aspects of our Jewish holidays.

For example, there would certainly be rules for selecting pumpkins for Jack-o-Lanterns much the way there are rules for selecting the etrog for use on Sukkot. In the spirit of satire, Binyomin Ginzburg, of BreslovBarBand.com, has come up with a mini Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) detailing the laws of Halloween observance.

His list includes 12 major rules and a few minor ones. These are followed by others suggested by visitors adding their comments to the Jewbellish site. Here are a few examples:
  • One does not make a blessing before trick or treating, because it is not certain that the homeowner will be home. (And one may not utter Gd’s name in vain.)
  • When giving candy, one must give an amount at least the size of an olive (about five candy corns.) Some are of the opinion that it has to be at least the size of an egg (twelve candy corns.) This opinion is preferable.
Shabbat shalom!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Actor Jack Black Will Do Anything (Even Sing Had Gadya) to Get His Kids Into Hebrew School


Actor/Comedian Jack Black was interviewed on the Conan O'Brien show a couple of years ago and told the story of how he wanted to get his children into Hebrew school. 

Black was born a Jew and is married to a Jew. He considers himself an atheist. He and his wife hadn't been to a synagogue in years, but felt pressure to put on a good show at the school interview. So he referenced his wife's grandfather's Haggadah and sang Had Gadya while the other parents rolled their eyes.

Black then launched into a description of Had Gadya as the original heavy metal song because it's all about the chain of life.

We don't know whether or not his kids did go to Hebrew school, but his Wikipedia entry says that he has started going to synagogue with them.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Comedy Classic for Parshat Noach - Bill Cosby's "Noah" Routine


This past Shabbat, the Torah portion of the week read in synagogues around the world was Parshat Noach, the second portion in the book of Bereisheet (Genesis) that told the story of Noah, the ark that he built at God's command, and the great flood.

There have been many commentaries on this story, but the only one that belongs on Jewish Humor Central is Bill Cosby's classic routine on the dialogue between God and Noah when Noah was instructed to build the ark according to specifications that are recorded in the Torah.

We saw Cosby in a live performance on stage in Lancaster, PA, last month. At 77, he's still as funny as we remember him on his LP records back in the '60s.

The Noah routine first appeared on Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!, Cosby's debut comedy album. It was recorded live at the nightclub The Bitter End in New York City's Greenwich Village during early 1963. The album includes three sketches about Noah. The three sketches were also included in a collection titled The Best of Bill Cosby released in 1969 and then again in 2005.

Cosby appeared on TV and did the first Noah skit. We're including a video clip of his TV performance below. In our opinion, it's not quite as good or as complete as the record version which appears below the video, but it lets us see his facial expressions as he talks and argues with the Lord.

Enjoy them both!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Comedian Mark Schiff in a Stand-up Comedy Routine on Doctor's Visits


Los Angeles-Based comedian Mark Schiff performed at a stand-up comedy event in Chicago called Laugh Rx a couple of years ago. It was sponsored by UnitedHealthCare, and Mark delivered a series of health-related comedy routines. We'll share a few of them in the weeks ahead.

Mark Schiff has headlined in all the major casinos and clubs across the country and has appeared many times on both The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman. He has had both HBO and Showtime specials, and has been the featured act at the Montreal Comedy Festival.

Mark is one of the few stand-up comics in the business today who entertains his audiences without resorting to foul language. Today's routine is a series of observations about doctor's visits. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)
 



Monday, October 27, 2014

A Joke to Start the Week - "Safe Deposit Box"


It's another Monday, and you know what that means. Time for another joke to start the week at Jewish Humor Central.

Once again we dip into the vast collection of Old Jews Telling Jokes. Today's joke teller is Julie Diane, a 67-year-old registered nurse.

Here's the setup: Fannie and Rachel are sitting in Fannie's kitchen, at the kitchen table. They've just buried Fannie's husband, and it was not a marriage made in heaven. And then...

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)
  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) Becomes a Zulu Song


Pirke Avot, the Talmud tractate known as Ethics of the Fathers, has been translated into many languages, but it took Eliezer Auerbach, a rabbi and composer from Johannesburg, South Africa to create an arrangement of a song in the Zulu language based on a famous passage in this Talmud volume. 

In Avot (2:20), it is written: Rabbi Tarfon would say: Hayom Katzer V'hamlacha meruba (The day is short, and the work is much.). Thuli Mazibuko translated the lyrics into Zulu..

Much of the attraction of the song is that Rabbi Eliezer Auerbach has joined with some of the best African singers in the Wits University Choir who managed to connect to the message and the values taken from Jewish sources, and transfer these through the song to the masses. The African language words fit with the rhythm and melody perfectly and a Zulu song was born.

The video below shows Rabbi Auerbach singing the song with a group of his students. If you want to hear it sung by the Wits University Choir and orchestra, click on the play button at the bottom of the Amazon.com page.

The Zulu lyrics are:
I langa I langa I langa lifisha. Nomsebenzi benzi moningi.
Basebenzi baya vilapa iholo labo labo lilingi.
I langa lifishi nomsebenzi moningi basebenzi baya vilapa iholo labo lilingi umphati uyaququzela.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.) 

 

(A tip of the kippah to Aliza Weisberger Kwiat for bringing this story to our attention.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Comedy Flashback - Singer Ed Ames Performs a "Bris" on The Johnny Carson Show


Ed Ames, the lead singer of The Ames Brothers, was a pop star back in the 1950s. Together with three of his brothers, his top hits included Rag Mop, You You You, It Only Hurts for a Little While, and The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane.

Ames, now 87, was born in Malden, Massachusetts to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. After the singing group disbanded in the 1960s, he pursued an acting career. Because of his dark complexion and facial bone structure, he was often cast in Native American roles, including that of Mingo, a Cherokee tribesman, on the NBC television series, Daniel Boone, with Fess Parker.

While playing Mingo on television, Ames developed some skill in throwing a tomahawk. This led to one of the most memorable moments of his career, when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on April 29, 1965. During the course of the show, Ames and Johnny Carson were discussing Ames' tomahawk throwing abilities. 

When Ames claimed that he could hit a target from across the room, Carson asked Ames if he could demonstrate this skill. Ames agreed, and a wood panel with a chalk outline of a cowboy was brought on to the stage. As the studio band played, Ames proceeded to throw the tomahawk, which hit the "cowboy" square in the groin with the handle pointing upward. This led to a very long burst of laughter from the audience, which has been called the longest sustained laugh by a live audience in television history. 

After a moment, Ames proceeded to walk toward the target to retrieve the tomahawk but Carson stopped him and allowed the situation to be appreciated for its humor. Carson ad-libbed: "I didn't even know you were Jewish!" and "Welcome to Frontier Bris." Ames then asked Carson if he would like to take a turn throwing, to which Carson replied: "I can't hurt him any more than you did." The clip became a favorite of Carson's own yearly highlight show and subsequent blooper television specials.

(Special thanks to Marnie Winston-Macauley, Aish.com's humor columnist, for finding this gem and including it in a collection of "Jewpers," bloopers with Jewish content published this week at Aish.com.)

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)
 




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Israel's Livnot U'Lehibanot Joins The Shabbos Project With a Welcoming Song


With the worldwide Shabbos Project taking place tomorrow night and Saturday, we found groups all over the world busily inviting largely unafilliated Jews to spend 25 hours immersed in the warm, relaxed atmosphere that prevails on Shabbat, week after week, year after year. 

One of these groups is Livnot U'Lehibanot, an unaffiliated, non-profit organization that has been running co-ed Israel experience programs since 1980 in the city of Tzfat.  The programs facilitate an exploration of Israel and Jewish heritage through hiking, community service, seminars, and meaningful interactions with native and immigrant Israelis.  Livnot programming is geared for Jewish adults with little Jewish background.

Three Livnot members have created a buzz on the Internet with a song to welcome the Shabbat. While it has attracted thousands of views on Facebook, it didn't quite achieve the 360 million views that the song it's based on got on YouTube. That's almost the same as the combined population of the USA and UK, a number that we find difficult to fathom. So what's the song that it parodies? Royals, by New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

South Africa's "Shabbos Project" Goes Global This Shabbat, Oct. 24-25



In 2013, South Africa's Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, had an idea. Wouldn't it be wonderful if most South African Jews kept one Shabbat together, publicly?

The idea took root and last October the majority of South Africa's 75,000 Jews, most of whom had never observed a single Shabbat, adopted the slogan "Keeping it Together" and turned the major cities into examples of Shabbat observance. Dinners indoors and outdoors, synagogue attendance, quiet time with the family, and a well-attended Havdalah concert were enjoyed by the participants.

So what are they doing for an encore? They're going global. Already some 170 cities in 30 countries are geared up for the 2014 Shabbos Project this Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25, Shabbat Parshat Noach. Challah baking has started, invitations are going out, and Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox communities will be participating in local events and observances.

The two videos below tell the whole story. The first tells about the concept and implementation in South Africa last year, and the second is an invitation by former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman to Jews worldwide to participate this week.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.) 


 


(A tip of the kippah to Jack Kustanowitz for bringing The Shabbos Project to our attention.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ray Jessel, 84-Year-Old Jewish-Welsh Songwriter, Sings Irish-Jewish Folksong "Shirley Levine"


Jewish-Welsh songwriter Ray Jessel (not related to the late great comedian George Jessel) has been around a long time, but somehow we only found out about him today. The 84-year-old Jessel was born in Cardiff, Wales, and has been writing songs since the 1960s, including songs for the Broadway musical Baker Street about the life of Sherlock Holmes.

Jessel made his cabaret debut when he turned 72, and has been writing comic and naughty songs that he performed in his own acts and on America's Got Talent earlier this year.

As Pat Launer wrote in the San Diego Jewish Journal,
“There were quite a number of Jews there when I grew up, about 2,000 families and three shuls,” the avuncular Jessel says by phone from his home in Los Angeles. His grandfather was one of the co-founders of the Orthodox synagogue in Cardiff, where Jessel had his bar mitzvah.
“Following the Jewish tendency to be musical,” young Jessel started piano early. He earned a degree in music from the University of Wales, and won a scholarship to study composition for a year in Paris. He emigrated to Canada and served as music director for a Reform temple, writing music for the choir.
He became an orchestrator/composer for CBC radio and television. In Toronto, he got involved with musical theater, and that changed his life.
Jessel wrote material for “Upstairs at the Downstairs” revues in New York, and created songs for the Sherlock Holmes musical, “Baker Street,” which ran on Broadway (1965). He wrote the score for “Helzapoppin,” which premiered at the Montreal Expo in 1967.
In this video clip, Jessel sings an "Irish-Jewish folksong" about a fair colleen named Shirley Levine.

Enjoy!

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