Friday, July 30, 2010

Adon Olam Around The World: Back To Brazil For A Joyful, Uplifting, Leaping, Dancing Version

After bringing you six versions of the Shabbat hymn Adon Olam from around the world, we discovered another one from Brazil that held our attention and we think will hold yours.

Brazil has a tradition of dance troupes performing Israeli dances, especially on Israel Independence Day.  This one, called Lehakat Shalom (Troupe of Peace), features between 20 and 30 young women (we couldn't get an exact count) who leap in unison with an exuberance that we have never seen in renditions of Adon Olam in our own synagogue.  

This is certainly an uplifting performance, especially the arms of the dancers, which lift ever higher as the song builds in intensity.  Not exactly a typical Adon Olam as performed by your typical pre-teen at the end of a Shabbat morning service, but one that we hope will inspire you as we begin another Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Classic Yiddishe Workout - Featuring The Shoulder Shrug

You won't see it in a goyishe workout, but it's the key to a yiddishe workout.  What is it?  Der Axel Kvetch, otherwise known as the shoulder shrug.  But be very careful.  Don't get started until you see your doctor.  

Why shlep to the gym?  Shvitz in the privacy of your own shtub (house) with the one and only exercise workout tape in Yiddish.   Shvitz! is a 30 minute workout of simple exercises for strengthening and toning muscles.  It includes pre-exercise warm-up routine and muscle-toning exercises for arms, legs and abdomen.  

Shvitz! is real.  It's available as a DVD from the Workmen's Circle website and as a VHS tape format from

Veteran actress of the Yiddish stage Shifra Lerer explains and demonstrates exercises for beginners.  Betty Silberman and Yekhiel Geller-Katz exercise along with you, demonstrating variations for the advanced exercise buff.  Klezmer background music adds a fun Yiddish tam to your exercise program.  English subtitles are included.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Musical Review of Jewish History In Four Minutes

In 1989, Billy Joel's hit song, We Didn't Start The Fire, chronicled the events and leading figures over a 50 year period, from 1949 to 1989.  

Earlier this year, for Israel Independence Day, Adam Drucker took the Shlock Rock parody of the song written by Lenny Solomon in 1991 and added Googled images for each of the events and individuals mentioned in this four minute sweep of Jewish History.  Drucker is the Youth Director of the Stanmore synagogue in northwest London.  

We thought it was a good summary of Jewish history, so we're sharing it with you. But don't blink.  If you do, you'll miss a few of the images.  Drucker chose interesting but unconventional ones to illustrate personalities and events in our history.  Some of them may surprise you.  Enjoy!

If you want to hear the original We Didn't Start the Fire sung by Billy Joel illustrated with rapid fire images taken from the internet, here it is.  There are 119 events and individuals chronicled in the song.  We didn't count the events or individuals in the Shlock Rock parody.  We'll leave that to you.  Here is a link to the lyrics for We've Got a Strong Desire.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Comedy Showcase: Impressionist Prop Comedy by Lioz Shem Tov

Lioz Shem Tov is a Magician, Impressionist, and Prop Comedian from Tel Aviv.  He has a unique style of making audiences laugh, using everyday objects to do impressions of people and animals.

Here are two videos of him performing at The Improv in Miami and at the semifinals of Last Comic Standing.  His impressions include:

- A lizard from Jurassic Park
- A stuttering turtle
- A KKK member celebrating a birthday
- A little bird trying to fly
- A mosquito
- A man having sex with a bat
- Grover from Sesame Street
- Mickey Mouse taking a Viagra
- An astronaut in the toilet
- Spiderman cutting himself shaving
- Bill Gates picking his nose


Monday, July 26, 2010

Funniest Israeli Commercials - Seventh of a Series: ISRAEL-History Is Everywhere

This is a new commercial and we haven't been able to track down the source.  But we suspect it's the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

Here's the setup:  A mild-mannered French tourist is walking the streets of Jerusalem and asks a flower vendor where he can find the Tower of David.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Look Out, Rachael And Emeril -- Here Comes "Feed Me Bubbe"

Two years ago, an 83-year-old short, stooped, white-haired Massachusetts grandmother with a kindly face was happily retired from her bank job.  Then her grandson Avrom Honig graduated from Worcester State College with a degree in communications.  That was the start of a new career for both of them -- Avrom as the producer and Bubbe (she will not disclose her real name) as the star of an online cooking show.

Now, 30 episodes later, as Linda Matchan wrote in the Boston Globe,
...she’s inundated with e-mail — ‘‘without exaggeration, hundreds, even thousands’’ — from fans from as far away as China and Africa who want help roasting chicken or stuffing cabbage, or to confide in her about their tsuris (troubles).
She’s got a website (, a frequently updated Facebook page (‘‘on the set right now working on the cholent episode’’), and an online store selling her T-shirts, aprons, even a ‘‘Feed Me Bubbe’’ ringtone (original klezmer music, composed by a fan).
Bubbe’s newfound fame is a uniquely 21st century phenomenon, made possible in a world where anyone who blogs, tweets, Facebooks, or YouTubes can vault to celebrity. But this is also what makes Bubbe’s story so unusual. Until recently, her life was so low-tech that she thought the Internet “came out of the air, just like nothing.’’
Though she didn’t set out to do so, Bubbe has managed to stand out from the pack by embracing the new technology while just being herself, cooking old-fashioned dishes in an old-fashioned kitchen in old-fashioned ways. In the process, she has tapped into a market of peripatetic, family-starved young people who are hungry for more than just chicken soup. They’re hungry for Bubbes.
For that very reason, Bubbe - who lives in a suburb west of Boston - doesn’t disclose her real name on the show, and she declined to give it to the Globe as well. “I never want to be recognized. People write me and say I remind them of their own grandmother,’’ says Bubbe, who believes she fills a void in the lives of grandmother-less viewers. “So how can I have another name?’’
In the video below, Bubbe congratulates YouTube on its fifth anniversary and notes that Feed Me Bubbe is celebrating its fourth anniversary.  We follow this with one of Bubbe's cooking videos in which she prepares sweet and sour meatballs.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adon Olam Around The World: A Do-Re-Mi Version From Netanya, Israel (Sixth Of A Series)

Is there any tune that Adon Olam doesn't fit to?  We're still looking for one.  After bringing you versions from Hungary, Brazil, Argentina, and Russia, last week we visited a synagogue in California that put on an All-American Friday night service that included Adon Olam sung to John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever.  That post had more page views than any other that we posted in the last few months.

This week we welcome Shabbat with Reform Congregation Natan-Ya in (where else?) Netanya, Israel.

Members of the congregation appear to be enjoying the nice weather in the seaside resort city and join in the singing of this popular Shabbat song to the tune of Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music.  Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yiddishology: How Good Is Your Yiddish? "Plotz": Ninth of a Series

Today we're heading back to Tampa, where the Yiddishologists at the Tampa Jewish Community Center are out in full force once again, this time trying to zero in on the best definition of the Yiddish word plotz.

You may recall our previous sessions with the Tampanese, as they volunteered definitions of shtupper, kenahora, ungapatchka, shlimazel, and shmegegge, tchotchke, halevai, and balabustaSome of the clips are so funny, we could plotz from laughter.   So thanks again, Tampa, for giving us some language lessons along with lots of fun.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rabbis Find Something New To Certify Kosher: Fresh Peaches

We went grocery shopping at a local New Jersey market last week and were surprised to find fresh peaches, grown in the USA, individually labeled with a large OU symbol and the words "Certified Kosher."

We remember our teachers in Yeshiva telling us that kosher certification is not needed for fresh fruits and vegetables, because they are inherently kosher year-round, and even for Passover, when the restrictions are far greater.

So we contacted the Webbe Rebbe (no, we're not kidding) at the Orthodox Union's website, which promptly answers questions related to kashrut.  We got a reply within one business day to the effect that no, kosher certification is not required for fruits and vegetables.

However, there are wax coatings on some fruits and vegetables. The OU poskim (Rabbinic decisors) are of the opinion that the wax does not present a kashrut problem. Apparently, because some people believe that it is problematic, the company that picks and packs the peaches has chosen to be certified as Kosher by the OU, for the sake of those who think that the wax coatings are a concern.

But we still wonder, why would a peach farmer get the idea that he should pursue kosher certification?  Then it came to us.

On Purim 2009 we published the Purim Edition of The Kustanowitz Kronikle with the lead story, Rabbis To Require Shechita For Many Fruits And Vegetables.  The Purim spoof maintained that a new tractate of the Talmud was discovered during Israel's incursion into Gaza, and that this tractate contained hitherto unknown laws that shechita (ritual animal slaughter) also applies to fruits and vegetables with visible stems.

Although peaches should not fall into this category, we believe an overly cautious farmer read this story, believed it was real, and hedged his bets by applying for kosher certification for his peach crop (at least we'd like to believe that's how it happened.)

If you missed the Purim Kronikle, here's a link to all the issues that you can read and print.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Time Out For Tisha B'Av: Why Do Jews Fast Tonight And Tomorrow?

There is no day during the year when we can't find an opportunity to laugh, chuckle, guffaw, grin, or maybe just crack a smile.  Without humor, the world would be a much grimmer place.  Even during the High Holy Days and on fast days, most of us find a moment to share an anecdote or witty comment with friends.  

Tonight and tomorrow are no exception, but the overall mood of the elongated day is much more sorrowful than any other.  The reason, of course, is that tonight we begin the observance of Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, which lasts until Tuesday night.

Tisha B’Av is a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the two Temples. It also happens to be the day that many other calamities have befallen the Jewish people, some of which are listed below (Source:
  • 587 BCE (3338)- The First Temple is destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews are sent into what later became known as the Babylonian Exile.
  • 70 CE (3830)- The Second Temple is destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus.
  • 135 CE (3895) - The Romans defeat Bar Kochba's last fortress, Betar, and destroy his army. Bar Kochba himself is killed along with more than 100,000 other Jews. The Roman Emperor Hadrian turns Jerusalem into a Roman city.
  • 1290 (5050) - King Edward I of England signs an edict expelling all Jews from England.
  • 1492 (5252) - The Alhambra Decree takes effect, expelling the Jews from Spain and from all Spanish territories.
  • 1914 (5674) - World War I begins when Germany declares war on Russia, setting the stage for World War II and the Holocaust.
  • 1940 (5700) - Himmler presents his plan for the "Final Solution" to the Jewish problem to the Nazi Party.
  • 1942 (5702) - Nazis begin deporting Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. 
On Tisha B'Av, Jews gather in darkened synagogues to read Eicha (The Book of Lamentations) and reflect on the tragedies that befell our people through the millenia.

So we won't post any jokes or hilarity today and tomorrow, but we would like to share a new video which explains the reasons behind the observance of Tisha B'Av in a most interesting and almost entertaining way.  The presenter is Charlie Harary, a lawyer and chairman of Long Island NCSY (National Council for Synagogue Youth, an Orthodox Union youth organization).  Watch it and gain a new appreciation for the day.  We'll be back Wednesday with more of the usual mix of funny true stories, jokes, music, videos, and whatever's in the news that makes us laugh or smile.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ball Game: It's A Jewish Song!

Well, the composer of the music was Jewish.  The lyricist was Episcopalian.

The baseball classic, sung during the seventh inning in most stadiums around the country, was written in 1908 by lyricist Jack Norworth and composer Albert Von Tilzer.

Von Tilzer, who changed his name from Gumm (originally Gumbinski), was one of five brothers from Indiana who all had careers on Tin Pan Alley and in vaudeville.

Books for adults and for children have been written about this song, including Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", a 222 page history of the song  by Robert Thompson, published on its 100th anniversary in 2008.

In the book, more details are revealed about Von Tilzer, who was a shoe salesman in his father Jacob Gumm's store in Indianapolis before joining his brothers in songwriting.  Albert's brother Harry was the most successful of the five in the music world, and claimed to be the creator of the term "Tin Pan Alley" to describe the block of 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue,  where the tinny sound of pianos signaled the place where most music was written at the time.

As Edmon J. Rodman reported for JTA last week,
Prior to writing baseball's hit tune, the lore goes, neither had attended a ballgame.
Their famous collaboration, which is sung publicly somewhere in the U.S. every day from mid-spring to early fall, is believed to trail only “Happy Birthday” and "The Star-Spangled Banner” as America’s most performed songs.

Since the sportscaster Harry Caray first began belting it out at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in the mid-1970s, and later at Wrigley Field, the song has become a regular feature at major league and minor league ballparks across America. They even sing it in Japan.

Yet considering the song’s fame, Norworth and Van Tilzen go largely unrecognized by baseball officialdom, and Von Tilzer scores barely a nod in the Jewish community. Their story resembles the song’s famous punchline: “and it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out at the old ball game.”
Here is one of the first recordings of the song, with the original lyrics sung by Edward Meeker in 1908.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Adon Olam Forever: John Philip Sousa Wouldn't Believe This! Fifth Of A Series

No Fourth of July celebration would be complete without the playing of John Philip Sousa's march, Stars and Stripes ForeverAnd no All-American Shabbat at Congregation Beth Torah in Granada Hills, California would be complete without the singing of Adon Olam to the melody of Stars and Stripes Forever, to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals.

No, we're not making this up.  Watch and listen for yourself.  

But wait!!! There's more!!! Here are links to some of the other selections in last week's Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Torah:

L'cha Dodi sung to This Land Is Your Land
Borchu sung to My Country Tis Of Thee
Sh'ma Yisrael sung to Hail To The Chief
V'Ahavta sung to 76 Trombones
Mi Chamocha sung to America the Beautiful
Yismechu sung to Yankee Doodle Dandy
Shalom Rav sung to the National Anthem
V'Shamru sung to You're a Grand Old Flag

If you listened to all of these, you just completed the Friday night Shabbat Service.
Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Israeli Illusionist Makes Child Float In Mid-AIr

Shimi Illuzini is a professional magician and illusionist from Israel who has been giving lots of performances to groups at camp, including children, teens, families, adults, and seniors.

He has been very visible at fundraising events, dinners, and holiday shows.  He claims to be 100% kosher.  We didn't know magic has to be kosher, but neither did we think water had to be kosher.  With over 30 years of experience, with acts in English and in Hebrew, he has performed at the Waldorf-Astoria, Hilton, and other hotels.

One of Shimi's specialties is making a child float in mid-air, under hypnosis.  Just this week he performed this illusion at a children's camp in Lakewood, New Jersey, where he is now based.

Take a look, and enjoy!

(Photo from The Lakewood Scoop)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who's Singing Hava Nagila? Is It Really The Beatles?

We haven't run out of unusual versions of Hava Nagila, probably the best known Jewish song in the world.  We've brought you a selection of performances from India, Thailand, Israel, Russia, Texas, the UK, and Cuba.

Today we take you back to the 1960s, when Beatlemania was raging in the music world.  But did the Beatles really sing Hava Nagila?  You'll do a double take, as we did, watching the video below.  It's remarkable how much the singers look like the Fab Four, especially Paul and Ringo.

But it's really a performance by a Beatles tribute band, The Moptops, taken from a real movie parody of A Hard Day's Night, called A Hard Day's Day.  The nine-minute film, directed by David Kessler, depicts a day in the life of the band.  Hava Nagila is the song played in the movie's climax, set at a Bar Mitzvah celebration.  Enjoy!

(A tip of the kippah to Chai Priestess, a Jewish Humor Central subscriber, for bringing this clip to our attention.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spontaneous Opera Rings Out In Food Court At Dizengoff Center In Tel Aviv

Shoppers and diners at the food court in the Dizengoff Mall in Tel Aviv were caught by surprise one day last month when 30 of their fellow shoppers and diners, and also shopkeepers and food servers, suddenly started to sing the Anvil Chorus from Giuseppi Verdi's opera, Il Trovatore, accompanied by a recorded full symphony orchestra.

Although dressed casually to blend in, and carrying shopping bags or lunches, the 30 were actually chorus members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

At the end of the performance in the mall, they unfurled banners advertising the Philharmonic's Viva Verdi concerts, some of which are scheduled for later this month.

The two great operas by Verdi, Il Trovatore and Rigoletto, will bring to a close the IPO’s 74th season.  These concert performances, under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta, will feature international artists and the Gary Bertini Israeli Choir, 30 members of which put on the performance in the video below.

This was yet another instance of the flash mob phenomenon that is sweeping major cities around the world.  Sometimes they are professional entertainers like this group, but usually they are amateurs who do it just for the fun of performing and watching the reactions of a crowd.  Back in November we brought you the Nefesh b'Nefesh flash mob of 150 singers and dancers singing Hanukkah songs in the streets of Jerusalem, and in May we shared the video of 300 Taglit-Birthright Israel singers and dancers doing a parody of My Sharona, called My Schwarma, in a Jerusalem mall.

We like flash mobs, we think they're fun, and we'll be watching for more of them in the coming months.  Enjoy!

(A tip of the kippah to Sharon Mosenkis, a Jewish Humor Central subscriber, for bringing this to our attention.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Israel Defeats Italy, 5-2, in (Jewish) World Cup Soccer

Are you following the World Cup Soccer Tournament?  Do you really believe the news reports that Spain is the world champion?  Well, maybe.  But Israel is the world champion of the Jewish World Cup Soccer tournament.  They won it on June 27 by defeating Italy in a day of intense competion between Jewish teams from all over the world.

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jews from around the globe, now living in New York, came to Randall's Island for a friendly soccer tournament .The twenty-four teams, representing countries from around the world, squared off for the title of Jewish World Cup champions. After 52 elimination matches, Israel won the tournament by defeating Italy 5-2. 

JTA's Adam Soclof reports on the day's events: 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's Back! Bonomo Turkish Taffy, Invented By Turkish Jew, Returns. And It's Kosher!

One of the pleasures of attending yeshiva in Washington Heights in the '50s was spending recess in Arthur's candy store on the corner of 185th Street and Audubon Avenue.  The big decision was always on what candy to spend the nickel that was burning a hole in our pocket, and more often than not, the candy of choice was Bonomo's Turkish Taffy.

Eating this heavenly candy was accomplished by a ritual unknown to today's candy lovers.  First you checked the package to make sure it wasn't too soft to move on to the next step.  It had to be hard.  Then you lifted the candy bar and smashed it on the pavement or on any hard surface.  Then you carefully opened it to see the dozen or so shards that it had broken into.  We're not making this up, and here's a video to prove it.

Sadly, Bonomo's Turkish Taffy disappeared from the market in 1989, after undergoing a packaging change, a naming change from Bonomo's to Bonomo, and sale to the Tootsie Roll company.  

The history of the candy was outlined in an obituary of Victor Bonomo, son of Alfred, the Turkish Jew in whose Coney Island factory the candy was created.  Victor died in 1999 at the age of 100, and as Michael T. Kaufman wrote in The New York Times,
The candy, which first appeared as a nickel bar after World War II, became a favorite with the economy-minded. Unlike some of its competitors, which melted in your mouth, Turkish Taffy eroded slowly, and it was so chewy that a single bar could last through most of a double feature at the movies.

Mr. Bonomo (pronounced BAHN-uh-moh) was born into the candy business and actually had Turkish roots. His father, Albert J., was a Sephardic Jew who had emigrated from Turkey. In 1897, the year before Victor Bonomo was born, his father started making candy in Coney Island to supply concessions at the amusement park. After World War I, Victor joined his father in running the candy factory on Eighth Street in Coney Island, where saltwater taffy and hard candies were produced.

As World War II ended, sugar rationing gave way and the entire country was eager to indulge its sweet tooth. Bonomo's joined the race to satisfy the surging demand, promoting three candy bars, ''Thanks,'' ''Hats Off'' and ''Call Again,'' which Tico Bonomo, Victor's son, described as ''poor man's Milky Ways.''

Then the candy cooks at the Coney Island factory came up with a batter of corn syrup and egg whites that was cooked and then baked.

''It was not really a taffy but what is technically known as a short nougat,'' explained Tico Bonomo. Nor was it Turkish. ''It was not a family recipe and the name we chose, 'Turkish Taffy,' just reflected clever marketing,'' he said.

It cooled into sheets the size of school desks, which were distributed through Woolworth stores around the country. Clerks at the candy counters used ball-peen hammers to whack the sheets, breaking off shards that were sold by the pound.
Eventually it made its way into individual candy bars and onto the shelf of Arthur's candy store.  Then we had to grow up, move away from Washington Heights, and never saw the candy again.

But last week we saw the amazing announcement.  Great news!  Bonomo's Turkish Taffy is back, and this time with an OU-Dairy certification for the chocolate, vanilla, and banana flavors.  (Who knows what certification, if any, it had back in the day when everybody assumed if was candy, it had to be kosher!)

We haven't seen it in any supermarkets yet and we haven't checked the few candy stores remaining in the suburbs, but you can buy this nostalgic treat online for about $20 for a case of 24 candy bars, at Old Time Candy or at Groovy Candies.  They also sell individual bars for about $1 apiece, and other candy that you won't find at your local store, like B-B Bats, Bit-O-Honey, Sky Bar and many more.  Enjoy!

(This blog post is dedicated to the Washington Heights Bonomo Boys:  Murva Regrebsiew, Namlak Dlawniehcs, Dranreb Ykswoktam, Dranreb Namrebeil, and Sirrom Namssorg a"h)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Welcoming Shabbat With Adon Olam - From Russia - Fourth of a Series

It's becoming a tradition at Jewish Humor Central to get in the Shabbat mood with a version of Adon Olam as it's sung around the world.  In the last three weeks we shared renditions from Hungary, Brazil, and Argentina.  This week it's Russia's turn, by way of Israel.

International opera star Yevgeni Shapovalov – called “the Israeli Pavarotti” by the media in Israel – formed the THREE TENORS FROM ISRAEL in 2005 with his acclaimed operatic colleagues Felix Livshitz and Vladislav Goray. All originally from the former Soviet Union, Shapovalov and Livshitz now make their homes in Israel, while Goray remains a Ukrainian citizen. Since their 2005 debut, they have given over 100 sold-out concerts in Israel and Europe, delighting audiences with their breathtaking performances, tinged with humor and nostalgia.

Shabbat Shalom!  Enjoy!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Funniest Israeli Commercials - Sixth of a Series: Obama Lookalikes Plug Israeli HD Cable TV

Yes, the Israeli Cable TV provider, saw an opportunity when President Barack Obama, as a candidate in 2008, adopted the slogan "Yes We Can."  After all, Yes has been broadcasting in Israel since July 2000.  And as the U.S. presidential election was in full swing, Yes was getting ready to launch its high definition service, YesMaxHD.
So Yes and its advertising agency, McCann-Erickson, came up with a song and dance commercial featuring Barack and Michelle Obama lookalikes seemingly plugging the newly offered Israeli HDTV service.

Yes is Israel’s only provider of multi-channel television broadcasts via satellite and was the first company to offer digital broadcasts and interactive television services. The company has over 560,000 subscribers comprising more than 38% of Israel’s multi-channel television market. The company transformed Israel's TV broadcasting sector, which was dominated by a cable monopoly offering an outdated analog product that provided a limited choice of content.

It's time to check out another of Israel's funniest TV commercials.   We're always looking for more to share with you.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Ba Ni Bi, 1978 Israeli Eurovision Winner, Captures The World - Starting a New Series

A Ba Ni Bi, a seemingly nonsensical song that won first prize for Israel in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest, has taken off and found expression in many languages and in many venues that are surely surprising original singer Izhar Cohen, composer Nurit Hirsh, and songwriter Ehud Manor.

The song is the subject of an article this week in Tablet magazine, in which Marjorie Ingalls reflects on the song's explosion onto the Jewish camp scene where it was and still is a staple of the zimriah and rikudiah (song and dance festvals) that are focal points of the camp season.

A Ba Ni Bi is actually not nonsensical, at least when sung in Hebrew.  It gets a little weird when it's sung in Chinese, Spanish, Thai, and other languages.  But more about that later, and in the weeks to come.

As Ingalls, points out, It's cleverly written in S'fat HaBet (B Language,) an Israeli variation of Pig Latin.  The phrase Aba Nibi Obo Hebev Obo Tabach is simply Ani Ohev Otach (I Love You) with the suffixes ba, bi, bo, and beh appended to each syllable.  If it were sung in English, the words would be Iby Lubuve Youboo.  But nobody sings it that way.

Here's a little nostalgia -- the original prize winning performance at the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest, followed by a version of the song performed by bridesmaids at a wedding dinner in Sabah, Malaysia.  We'll post more unusual versions throughout the summer.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yiddishology: How Good Is Your Yiddish? "Balabusta": Eighth of a Series

We're taking you to Tampa once again for another peek at how the Tampanese, members of the Tampa Jewish Community, define the Yiddish word balabusta.  In the previous seven weeks, we brought you definitions of shtupper, kenahora, ungapatchka, shlimazel, and shmegegge, tchotchke, and halevai.

After asking a range of people to define balabusta (the actual pronunciation is closer to balabuste), the off-camera man-in-the-street silent interviewer asks Yiddish expert and author Michael Wex to deliver the final word, leaving no doubt as to its meaning.

We thought we'd add a little etymology, explaining the word's origin.

In Hebrew, the master of the house is literally the ba'al ha'bayit, or ba'al ha'bayis.  The words, when they transmuted into Yiddish, became balabus. It's fairly common in Yiddish for a male term, when converted to its female equivalent, to take on the ending "te" or "ene," e.g. chazzan-chazzante, yid-yidene.  Thus for every balabus there is usually a balabuste.  This is one word that is almost always positive, expressing admiration for a woman who can take hold of a home and manage it well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Amazing Bottle Dancers Bring Touch Of Eastern Europe To Phillies Baseball

For the last two seasons, The Amazing Bottle Dancers have joined The Philadelphia Phillies in honoring the Jewish community during their Jewish Heritage Celebration at Citizens Bank Park. Their performance has been a huge hit with the teams, their fans... and The Philly Phanatic!

And they've been invited back for this year's Jewish Heritage Night when the Phillies play the Los Angeles Dodgers in Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, August 12.

The Amazing Bottle Dancers is a troupe founded by Michael Pasternak.  They perform in major cities across the USA.  As they say on their website,
Although we are not actually Orthodox, Michael hails from a long line of Orthodox Rabbis and Chazzans. His great grandfather was Rabbi Nathan (Nachum) Wechsler. Michael's grandfather and uncle -- Cantor Max Wechsler and Cantor Sol Wechsler, both of whom were Modern Orthodox -- were renowned in Brooklyn, and up-and-down the entire eastern seaboard.
So whether you're planning to be in Philadelphia on August 12 or not, take a few minutes to enjoy the antics of the Amazing Bottle Dancers.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chabad Rabbis Defeat South Africa Ikapa Sporting Team in World Cup Soccer

A team of Chabad rabbis triumphed over the South African Ikapa Sporting Team in a World Cup soccer match in Cape Town's soccer stadium at the start of the World Cup championship games.  We knew that Chabad is everywhere on the globe, but the last place we expected to see them was in the stadium, wearing their full dress soccer uniforms, full of energy, using their heads, and scoring goal after goal to win the match.  

OK, so it's really a professionally done commercial for all the good work that the Lubavitchers are doing in South Africa.  But it's fun to watch, so enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Welcoming Shabbat With Adon Olam, Argentine Style - Third of a Series

Continuing our Friday series of welcoming Shabbat around the world with a different version of Adon Olam each week, we present Yehuda Glantz playing it on the charango with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and adding a Spanish twist to the familiar song.  

The charango is an ethnic South American instrument similar to the ukulele.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Glantz is a unique and original artist in the Israeli and universal Jewish world art scene.  He has created his own musical style, a fusion of hot Latin rhythms, energetic Chassidic rock beats, and Jewish soul music.  He plays 14 different traditional and ethnic South American instruments.  He also writes, composes, and produces all his music in his studio in Jerusalem, where he has been living with his family since 1979.

Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!