Friday, October 30, 2009

Former Catholic, Now Chassidic Comedian in Off-Broadway Debut

In his New York theatrical debut at the Bleecker Street Theatre starting November 11 (Previews start November 2), comedian Yisrael Campbell will take the audience on a hysterically funny and intensely personal journey through his struggles with drugs and alcohol and his eventual salvation in the Jewish faith. Though he was born Catholic, Yisrael (who changed his name from Christopher) charts an extraordinary spiritual, creative, and hilarious journey that includes three circumcisions along the way.

Campbell grew up Catholic in a Philadelphia surburb. One of his aunts is a Catholic nun. A typical Campbell joke is that his aunt is a nun, "which of course makes Jesus my good for getting parking in Jerusalem." Campbell converted to Judaism with a Reform rabbi, but says that a "spiritual hunger" led him to have a second conversion with a Conservative rabbi. On a four month visit to Israel in 2000 he decided to have a third conversion and live as an Orthodox Jew.

Here's a preview of Campbell's shtick. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Comic Sued by Mother-in-Law to Perform Sunday in Hackensack

Sunda Croonquist, the stand-up comic from Paterson, New Jersey who is being sued by her mother-in-law for defamation, will appear with other comics this Sunday, November 1, at 7 pm in Hackensack. The show, Ladies of Laughter, is a fund-raiser for Gilda's Club, the organization that provides support for men, women, and children living with cancer.

Gilda's Club is named in memory of Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.

Croonquist gained national attention in August when her mother-in-law filed a lawsuit accusing her of defaming her and her family, using false and racist lies in her routine on television and in nightclubs.
Croonquist, who keeps a kosher home, is half-black, half-Swedish, and was raised Roman Catholic before marrying into a Jewish family. She sees nothing wrong in using her family as source material.

Is she going over the line in making jokes about her husband's family? You be the judge. For example, one of the central jokes in her routine is about her mother-in-law's reaction to news she was pregnant with her first child:

"OK, now that we know you're having a little girl I want to know what you're naming that little tchotchke. Now we don't want a name that's difficult to pronounce like Shaniqua. We're thinking a name short but delicious. Like Hadassah or Goldie."
Here's a 3 minute clip of Croonquist's routine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Update: FOX Replaces Offending Billboard In B'nei B'rak; Haredi Blog Defaces Model Photo

Facing a potential boycott from the Haredi community (see last Thursday's blog post,) Israel's Fox Clothing Company decided to replace the B'nei B'rak billboard featuring top model Bar Refaeli wearing minimal clothing. According to a Fox press release, “even though there were only several complaints, Fox decided to take them into account since the clothing company appeals to the general public and all sectors of society.”

The new billboard, showing Refaeli and Israeli "Survivor" reality star Noam Tor in winter clothes, would seem to have solved the problem. But the Haredi news blog, Vos Iz Neias, apparently decided that even showing Refaeli's face was too provocative for its readers to see. Above left is the billboard that passing motorists see in Israel, and next to it the version in Vos Iz Neias with Refaeli's airbrushed face.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Classic Gold Video: West Bank Story

Looks like it's going to be Hummus Week at Jewish Humor Central. When we blogged yesterday about the war between Lebanon and Israel over the right to claim hummus as a national dish, we couldn't help thinking about the short musical comedy film that won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.

The film is an over-the-top parody of West Side Story, following the romance of an Israeli soldier from the family of owners of the restaurant Kosher King and a Palestinian cashier from the family of owners of the restaurant Hummus Hut. Cliches and hammy acting, singing, and dancing fly all over the screen as the plot moves toward a happy ending.

We're calling West Bank Story a JHC Classic Gold Video because we feel every one of our readers should see it, and if you're also a collector, own it. To get a taste of it, here is the CNN report of its big win on Oscar night.  The film is available for downloading on iTunes for $1.99, and for sale as a DVD as part of a collection of short films for $10.46 (free shipping) at

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lebanon to Israel: Our Hummus Is Bigger Than Yours

The Jerusalem Post reports that Lebanon is challenging Israel for the right to claim hummus as its own. Insisting that hummus is Lebanese and not Israeli, a team of Lebanese chefs created the world's biggest plate of hummus, weighing more than two tons in a bid for recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hummus, the popular dish made from mashed chickpeas, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic - has been eaten in the Middle East for centuries. Its exact origin is unknown, though it's generally seen as an Arab dish.

The hummus war between Lebanon and Israel has been going on for some time. Lebanese industrialists are gathering documents in preparation for suing Israel for claiming hummus, falafel, and tabbouleh as Israeli national dishes. They are basing their case on a 2002 lawsuit in the European Union brought by Greece to prevent anyone from using the term feta for cheese that was not made from Greek sheep and goats milk.

Some 300 chefs were involved in preparing Saturday's massive ceramic plate of hummus in a huge tent set up in downtown Beirut. The white-uniformed chefs used 1,350 kilograms of mashed chickpeas, 400 liters of lemon juice and 26 kilograms of salt to make the dish, weighing 2,056 kilograms.

It was not clear what the former Israeli record was, and organizers gave conflicting reports on when it was made.

But chefs and visitors broke into cheers and applause when a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records presented a certificate verifying Lebanon had broken the previous record. The plate was then decorated with the red, green and white Lebanese flag.

A similar attempt to set a new world record was to be held Sunday for the largest serving of tabbouleh, a salad made of chopped parsley and tomatoes, that Lebanon also claims as its own.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Welcome to the Tribe, Ivanka; Wedding Registry Includes $7 Spatula

Mazal Tov to Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump and Ivana Trump, who will be married today to Jared Kushner at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The wedding will be performed by Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who was Ivanka's teacher in preparation for her conversion to Judaism, which he certified in July.

If you want to send a gift, you're too late to buy the $7 small red silicone spatula and all the other under $50 items in their Williams-Sonoma registry. But the black Cuisinart programmable coffee maker is still available for $59.95, and so is the $900 All-Clad Brushed Stainless Steel Professional Nonstick 10-Piece Set, which Ivanka can use to make kugel for Shabbat. Ivanka mentioned that she was making broccoli kugel in a tweet on Twitter, where she tweets under her own name and at last count has more than 412,000 followers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sesame Street Muppets Headed For Gaza

Agence France-Press (AFP) has reported that Big Bird and his pals are trying hard to get access to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to talk about peaceful conflict resolution and carry out some Muppet Diplomacy.

On Wednesday, Gary Knell, president of the Sesame Workshop, the educational organization behind Sesame Street, said
"We know that it's an extremely volatile area, but we also feel that it's really important that we take this step forward to promote self esteem for Palestinians."

A Palestinian version of the popular children's television dseries - Sharaa Simsim - is already shown in the West Bank, but the signal does not reach Gaza."We are going into production with new programs now based in Ramallah that will focus a lot on peaceful conflict resolution," Knell said at a news conference in Jerusalem.

He said he is particularly keen to send the famous Muppets to Gaza, where the station run by Hamas has stirred international outrage with its cartoon characters seen as glorifying violence against Israel.

"We have felt it important to broadcast (Sharaa Simsin) in Gaza. We feel the children there are in need of positive programming in light of the circumstances over the past couple years," Knell said.

He said he hoped this could be realized within a year at most.

"We're going to work with the ministry of education in the Palestinian territories, the prime minister and others to build a really strong Sharaa Simsim, and it is our goal to have this broadcast in Gaza," he said.

"I believe the program needs to be seen and we'll use whatever means we can to get it to the children," he said.

He said he was considering broadcasting the program to Gaza through satellite, but was also looking into asking the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) or non-governmental organizations to show it to the children of Gaza.

Sesame Street marks its 40th anniversary this year and is seen in more than 140 countries. That "has pretty much made it the longest street in the world," said Knell, who was rudely interrupted by grumps and groans from Moishe Oofnik, the Israeli cousin of Oscar the Grouch.

It was only after a firm but polite intervention by Sivan, a disabled Muppet in a wheelchair who will debut in Israel in December, that Knell was able to resume speaking.
(Photo by AFP)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Haredi Group Considers FOX Boycott

No, it's not FOX news, but the Israeli Fox Clothing Company, which has aroused the ire of the Haredi community in B'nei B'rak, Israel by erecting a billboard featuring top model Bar Refaeli.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Rabbi Mordechai Bloi, chairman of the Haredi group Guardians of Sanctity and Education, says the community is considering boycotting Fox. Prior to the billboard, Fox's provocative ad campaigns featuring Refaeli had been limited to Israeli TV and Internet, to which members of the community are not exposed.

"Whether people wish to see this or not is a personal choice, and we don't tell people what to do in the privacy of their home. But they cannot be permitted to poison the public environment," Bloi said. Fox has a big Haredi clientele and a large store in the religious community of Bnei Brak, and stands to lose from a boycott.

A photo of the actual billboard accompanies the article in Haaretz. But the Haredi web site Vos Iz Neias, while reprinting the Haaretz article verbatim, substituted their own version of the photo (above) with the caption "The immodest billboard on highway." Readers will have to decide for themselves if a billboard covered with black ink is immodest and worthy of a boycott. Or maybe they'll just Google it and see what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Classic Gold Video: Jewish "Mad Men" Parody

It's hard to believe that this blog is less than 3 weeks old and we've already posted 24 items. If we had started it earlier, we would have had lots of funny videos, books, and stories to post as they happened. But that's no reason not to share some of the golden oldies with you. In the internet world, oldie usually means earlier than last month. So if you've seen any of the Classic Gold Videos or read any of the Classic Gold Books, we hope you'll enjoy seeing them again. If they're new to you, all the better.

Here's a Classic Gold Video, a Jewish-slanted parody of the popular TV series Mad Men from last Purim (only 7 months ago) featuring "The Shushan Channel" comedy crew in a promo for their performance at the 92Y Tribeca.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pastrami, Rye, Corned Beef, Knishes -- Come to the Deli Where They're So Delicious

After months of publicity, interviews, and visits to more than 100 delis all over the United States and Europe, author David Sax is finally seeing his book, Save the Deli, in bookstores everywhere. Today is the book's official publication date. Sax spent the last three years writing the book and taking his taste buds to delis old and new, big and small, kosher and not. What he found was that the deli is disappearing from the face of the earth, but that there may be hope for its survival.
The book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, outlines the rationale for Sax's gastronomic adventure:
As a journalist and life-long deli obsessive, David Sax was understandably alarmed by the state of Jewish delicatessen. A cuisine that had once thrived as the very center of Jewish life had become endangered by assimilation, homogenization, and health food trends. He watched in dismay as one beloved deli after another—one institution after another—shuttered, only to be reopened as some bland chain-restaurant laying claim to the very culture it just paved over. And so David set out on a journey across the United States and around the world in search of authentic delicatessen. Was it still possible to Save the Deli? Join David as he investigates everything deli-- its history, its diaspora, its next generation. He tells about the food itself—how it’s made, who makes it best, and where to go for particular dishes. And, ultimately, he finds is hope-- deli newly and lovingly made in places like Boulder, traditions maintained in Montreal, and iconic institutions like the 2nd Avenue Deli resurrected in New York.
Sax has a web site dedicated to the book and his Save the Deli cause, and has placed a 2 minute video trailer for the book on YouTube. Click below to see it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Big Book of Jewish Humor: A Classic For Your Collection

If you have a collection of books of Jewish humor in your house, you almost certainly have this one. The Big Book of Jewish Humor is one of the true classics in the field. But just in case you don't, here's a quick summary of what you're in for when you pick up this book. The editors, William Novak and Moshe Waldoks, have produced a volume that has Talmudic overtones, with two facing columns in the center and two narrow columns of commentary on many pages. But unlike the Talmud, readers should be aware that some of the jokes are not family-friendly and use language that some may find offensive.

After a 25 page introduction to the 25th anniversary edition published in 2006, and the 15 page intro to the first edition (1981) we get into the book itself, which comes with instructions on how to read its 308 pages.

The book is divided into five topical and thematic parts.
Part One: Deeper Meanings, including trains, logic, the wise men of Chelm, Hershele Ostropoler, Intellectuals, Psychiatrists, and Pilpul. The Pilpul section includes a mock book review of The Babylonian Talmud, as if it were just published. The review concludes:
"...we must not forget that we are really dealing with a glorified "how to" book, in which the great Jewish minds of hundreds of years fight each other to the death to offer you recipes, legal and medical advice, and, primarily, to order you around till you're ready to cry. This perhaps is the greatness of the Talmud -- the fact that it has embodied within itself a thousand-year-old monumental tradition of nudnikism, the minutes of countless Sunday-morning bagel-bakery symposia, the nitpicking and vacillation of generations of kvetches. Not for the squeamish."
Part Two: Jewish and Goyish -- Anti-Semitism, Disputations, and The Goyish Persuasion.
Part Three: Promised Lands -- America, Divisions, Israel, Communication.
Part Four: Making a Living -- Give and Take, Schnorrers, Business, Rabbis, and Doctors
Part Five: First Things Last -- God, Animals, Bar Mitzvah, Men and Women, Family, Food, Death, Steady Work.

The Big Book of Jewish Humor also has lots of cartoons, and contributions from dozens of famous writers and comedians. It will keep you busy and laughing for a long time.

92nd Street Y Presents Lecture Series on Jewish Comedians

The 92nd Streeet Y in Manhattan has started a lecture series on Jewish comedians, focusing on Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Mel Brooks. All three lectures are moderated by Columbia professor Jeremy Dauber, who looks at some of Jewish comedy's great classic voices, the ones who make us think deeply as we laugh heartily.

The first lecture, on Lenny Bruce, was held on October 20. Upcoming talks are scheduled for November 19 (Woody Allen) and February 16 (Mel Brooks). Tickets for November 19 are sold out but some seats may be available one hour before the 7:30 starting time.

Ticket information is available at the 92nd Street Y's web site. Here's a short video preview of the series.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Leonard Cohen Blesses 50,000 in Israel

75-year-old Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer/songwriter/poet/musician/novelist/philosopher, gave a long-awaited concert last month before a crowd of 50,000 in the Ramat Gan stadium, near Tel Aviv. Appearing in Israel for the first time in more than 20 years, he sang the same songs as he did in London, New York, and cities around the world during his international tour last year, but with special meaning to the Israeli audience.

Cohen insisted that the words to his songs be translated into Hebrew and projected on the giant screens flanking the concert stage, and they resonated with the largely Hebrew-speaking crowd.

Click the video below for a 7.5 minute performance of his signature song, Hallelujah, and below that, a two minute video of Cohen giving his fans Birkat Cohanim, the priestly blessing, at the end of the show.

When Baseball Came to Israel

Holy Land Hardball, a documentary film about the attempt to start a new baseball league in the Middle East, has been released as a DVD. The film, winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2008 Boston Jewish Film Festival, chronicles the 2007 attempt to launch an Israel Baseball League. You can find ordering information as well as details about the film and the visionary who followed his dream from a bagel bakery in Boston to Eretz Yisrael at

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You Give Us Four Minutes -- We'll Give You a Parsha, the website that presents a four minute animated narrative of each of the 54 Torah portions, has completed the full cycle, just as synagogues all over completed the Torah reading last week on Simchat Torah.

If you haven't been following the weekly cartoon summaries, there's no better time than now to start. Each narrative is presented in a different style, with 54 unique voices giving their own interpretation of the parsha, including stories, country songs, and hip hop. Just click on the frame below, or navigate to

Parshat Bereshit from
More Torah cartoons at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

That's Not an Etrog. This is an Etrog!!!

OK. Sukkot is over. But here's a memento of the holiday and something to save for next year. Since this site is a repository for fun stuff, we'll tag it as a Sukkot video so you can enjoy it now and every year.

Now it's time to look for Chanukah humor. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Does Your Gefilte Fish Glow in the Dark?

Gefilte fish in London are all aglow, maybe because of the spotlight on them during the month of yamim tovim that just ended Sunday night. Or maybe it's due to luminescent bacteria that grow naturally in sea water. It's all reported in, an online extension of the Jewish Chronicle. The glowing fish was discovered by a student who came home late one night, and when she opened the refrigerator to retrieve a late night snack, the kitchen was illuminated with a bright green and yellow glow.
Too bad we don't celebrate Halloween. Can you imagine anything scarier than opening your front door and having a jar of glowing gefilte fish thrust in your face?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Inventions for Jewish Life, "My Zayde is So Religious That..."

Meet Marvin Silbermintz, one of the funniest behind-the scenes comics in America. Twenty-one years ago, Jay Leno hired him to be a writer for the Tonight Show. Marvin moved from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, to Los Angeles, where he has been writing monologues and comedy bits for Leno ever since.

Last year Marvin appeared on a Chabad telethon where he showed off a collection of his innovations and inventions for Jewish life. Towards the end of this video he is joined by the telethon host who presides over a "Can You Top This?" contest called "My Zayde Was So Religious That..."

Is Oil Kosher in Indiana?

A real story from Convenience Store News today. It reminds me of finding a symbol Circle K Logo displayed over a Circle K convenience store and gas station that looks very much like the OK kosher symbol a few years back. It's going to be more difficult to find gas and oil wih a Kof-K hechsher.

New Luke Oil Branding Not Kosher

October 11, 2009 -
HOBART, Ind. -- The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America recently filed a lawsuit against Luke Oil Co., a convenience store operator headquartered here, over the company's new logo design, which the groups says resembles the trademarked OU kosher food symbol, the Post-Tribune reported. The group's suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, states that the company failed to remove the symbol from its logo. The symbol, a "U" inside of a circle, is used to indicate food items that are kosher, meaning properly prepared according to Jewish dietary law, David Butler, the group's lawyer, told the newspaper. The trademark's use is important for people who use it, to make sure they don't break Jewish law or eat something that isn't kosher, Butler said. The symbol has also been trademarked, which means it cannot be used without permission from the orthodox group, according to the report. Pictures included in the lawsuit show the symbol appearing next to the word "Luke" in various parts of Luke convenience stores, including above a wall of food and on a cup for fountain drinks, the Post-Tribune reported. "It's clearly not [kosher] here, and I don't know how or why Luke Oil decided to start using the patented mark in its new branding activity," Butler said. Luke Oil Vice President Tom Collins Jr. told the new "Serving U" logo was rolled earlier this year and was centered around customer service. "We're just working towards a common ground where everyone's happy," Collins said.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shtick Shift: A New Book on Jewish Humor

In this slim volume (142 pages) Simcha Weinstein analyzes the shift in shtick (modern Jewish humor) from Jack Benny and the Marx Brothers to Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, and Adam Sandler.
Along the way, he reviews the success of Jon Stewart and his fake news show, The Daily Show.
Weinstein defines the shtick shift as the new comic sensibility where today's Jewish comics aren't afraid of proclaiming their ethnicity, and have the confidence to laugh about their frailties.
The book addresses issues of Jewish identity and assimilation, and covers years of Jewish comedy from the lower east side to vaudeville, movies, and sitcoms.
It contains a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish words, and 20 pages of footnotes.

Gaza Zoo Paints Donkeys to Look Like Zebras

Gaza City zookeepers had a problem when their two zebras died of neglect during the war between Gaza and Israel last year. So they came up with a novel solution in hopes of attracting visitors to their dilapidated zoo. They paid an artist to paint two donkeys to look like zebras, and nobody seems to care or know the difference.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shake That Lulav!

Only two more days to shake your lulav. Maybe it's time to try a different shake!

Soap Box Derby with Wacky Cars Comes to Jerusalem

Jerusalem's Sacher Park was the scene yesterday for the first Israel Soap Box Derby, sponsored by Red Bull. Wackiness was the theme of the day, with "cars" -- they could not have motors or pedals -- decked out as a chariot, carrot, ice cream cone, Teletubbies, Transformers, a rack of pitas stuffed with falafel, and other over-the-top designs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Moveable Feast -- Sukkah Pedicab in NYC

An innovative teenage yeshiva student in Brooklyn, whose father directs a Chabad social services organization, has been pedaling a rickshaw carrying a portable sukkah around the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn this week. Levi Duchman, 16, makes the rounds, inviting Jewish men, women, and children to make the blessing over the citron, palm branch, myrtle branches, and willow twigs that are held together and shaken as part of the observance of the Sukkot holiday, and eat a snack inside the structure.

Chabad has been driving around town with larger portable sukkot on pickup trucks for some years now, but this mini-sukkah on a pedicab is unique. Levi says that the hardest part is the pedaling.
(Photo by Simmy Kay)

Pidyon Petter Chamor - Redeeming a Firstborn Male Donkey

In May, 2009, two members of the Adass Yisroel congregation in Melbourne, Australia, were studying Talmud, and came across the obscure mitzva of Pidyon Petter Chamor -- redeeming of a firstborn male donkey. Determined to perform this unique and rare mitzva, they located a female donkey that had not yet produced any offspring. Working with a breeder, they waited the 12 months of pregnancy, and finally the firstborn male donkey emerged.

Most of Melbourne's rabbinate attended the ceremony as did young and old from many of Melbourne's shuls and shteebels.

The five minute long video is fascinating to watch. The funniest part is when the rabbi says "It's unusual and difficult to find a Jewish donkey."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jewish Humor by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

First published in 1992, this book is a classic in the field of Jewish Humor. Rabbi Telushkin, a well-known author and authority on Jewish life, focuses on comedy as the mirror of Jewish culture, woven around more than a hundred of the best Jewish jokes -- some classic, some new. This is not just a compilation of jokes, but an analysis of what is Jewish about Jewish humor, the inescapable hold of the Jewish family, Jewish intelligence and the playful logic of the Jewish mind, the Jew in business, self-loathing, self-praise, and other Jewish neuroses. A must have in every collection of books on Jewish Humor.

Old Jews Telling Jokes

Sam Hoffman, the director and writer whose parents and friends make up the cast of Old Jews Telling Jokes, has been so successful with this joke preservation project that he is starting a second season. He's now recruiting new joke tellers in Los Angeles. Here is the announcement, posted on their Facebook group:

We're coming to Los Angeles on October 19th! If you or someone you love would like to tell a joke on camera, please send Eric Spiegelman a Facebook message. We're looking for 40 people. All joketellers must be over the age of 60 and Jewish. And no, we don't actually consider 60 to be "old" -- we just have to draw the line somewhere!

Now is as good a time as any to join the fans of this website, which posts a new joke every Tuesday and Thursday. You can also catch up with all of the jokes if you're hearing about this for the first time. But be warned: These jokes are not for the kiddies or for anyone who doesn't appreciate risque humor. Most of these jokes will ring a bell for veterans of the Catskills.

Jokes, Jokes, and Still More Jokes

David Minkoff, author of Oy and Oy Vey, The Ultimate Books of Jewish Jokes, started collecting good (and sometimes bad) jokes long before publication of the books. He has been adding them regularly to his website,, where fans have been reading, printing, and retelling them in every possible environment. We have friends who participate in a weekly Talmud study group that always begins with a joke from this site.
THE JEWISH JOKES OF now number more than 2,245, and are arranged in categories. There are 108 sets of Jewish jokes, puzzles, material for speeches, Jewish jokes for children, naughtier Jewish jokes, and even three sets of non-Jewish jokes. Laugh a little!

JewWalking With Simmy Kay on Manhattan's Upper West Side

The National Jewish Outreach Program took Comedian and VH1 Field Reporter Simmy Kay to the streets of NYC for some JewWalking (not to be confused with Jay Leno's JayWalking.)

Simmy tracked down some Jews to ask basic questions about the Jewish religion, Jewish history and the Hebrew language. 

The answers are sure to surprise and intrigue you. Check it out!

Monday, October 5, 2009

U. S. Government Extends Sukkot to 14 Days

We hope you're enjoying the Sukkot yom tov. Eight days not enough? Good news from the government's Transportation Security Agency (TSA) which has issued an advisory that
The travel period for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins approximately on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, and ends approximately on Tuesday, October 13, 2009.

OK, so it's the travel period, not the holiday itself. It's also nice to know that flying citrons, palm branches, myrtle twigs, and willow branches are not a threat to the nation's security.

M.O.T. New York Times Film Critic Reviews Recent Films of Jewish Interest

New York Times film critic A. O. Scott, revealing his status as a full-fledged M.O.T., has an interesting piece in yeterday's Arts section titled "Jewish History, Popcorn Included," in which he weaves together observations on recent films A Serious Man, Funny People, Inglourious Basterds, and recent books such as The Yiddish Policemen's Union and The Plot Against America.

We include it in our blog not because it is outright funny, but because it may produce some knowing smiles and grins among our readers who follow Jewish themes in popular culture.

Jewish Jokes: Oy and Oy Vey

David Minkoff has probably compiled more Jewish jokes than anyone on the internet or in the universe. Last month his second "ultimate complilation" of Jewish jokes, "Oy Vey: More" was published by Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press in hardcover.

With 459 pages and over a thousand jokes, there is something here to please everybody and something to make everybody groan. Just a random sampling:

Chanukah cards
Sadie is in Israel on holiday and goes to the post office to buy some stamps for her Chanukah cards. "Can I have 50 Chanukah stamps please?"
"Of course," says the clerk, "what denomination?"
"Oy veh," says Sadie, "has it come to this already? OK, give me 14 Liberal, 28 Reform Orthodox stamps please."

A question for the rabbi
Rabbi, am I permitted to ride in an airplane on shabbes as long as my seat belt remains fastened? Surely it can then be considered as if I'm wearing the plane?

And so it goes, with topics including romance, family fortunes, medical jokes, life and death, people and professions, matters of faith, and even a few pages of child-friendly jokes.
Both books will give you one-liners, gags, riddles, and shaggy dog stories to share with family and friends, if you can get used to the British inflections and conventions such as money in pounds instead of dollars and British spellings and usage. Some of the jokes are a bit off-color, such as What brocheh does one say before taking Viagra.

The first book, Oy: The Ultimate Book of Jewish Jokes is now out in paperback. I keep a few copies on hand to give as get-well gifts to friends who have been hospitalized. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and I include a fake prescription blank recommending two jokes three times a day and three jokes just before bedtime. It works wonders!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Welcome to Jewish Humor Central

We have been searching for Jewish humor on the Internet ever since the Internet began. You would think that with so many Jewish comedians doing stand-up, TV, and films, there would be an infinite number of web sites with high quality Jewish humor. Well, there aren't. Sure, you'll find some sites with old Jewish jokes, books of Jewish humor included in Amazon's collection, and some hilarious YouTube videos, but you're unlikely to find a single web site that reports regularly on lots of funny things that are happening now in the Jewish world, and also comments on a wide variety of things Jewish that bring a grin, smile, chuckle, laugh, guffaw, or sometimes a sigh to readers.

That's our mission for Jewish Humor Central. We will be posting Jewish humor in the following categories: Jokes,  stories, parodies, satire, legends, books, films, Unbelievable But True, and In the News. Some will be new, and some will be classics. Occasionally some will not be really funny, but thought provoking.We'll include our own comments, but generally rely on the links to tell their own story.

We intend to include items from religious and secular sources of all Jewish denominations, and we will try to keep the site family-friendly. Any perceived slight to any group or subgroup will be unintentional, but we cannot guarantee that people without a sense of humor will not be offended by anything we post or link to.

For some of the first posts on this blog, we will be playing catch-up to introduce some existing web sites that capture the essence of Jewish humor in the categories listed above. After we establish this base, we will start to focus on new stories as they happen.