Monday, February 28, 2011

Nu? What Are You Waiting For? So Buy A Shirt Already!

Of all the Yiddish words that we know, none is more universal and unique in that it needs absolutely no translation. What is it? The word "nu."  Nu, so it's not really a word. It's more accurately an expression, a sentiment, a gesture. 

But how do you pronounce it? Definitely not as "new."  The only correct pronunciation is a drawn out "nuuuu?" accompanied by one, or even better, two upturned hands awaiting a response.

A new store bearing the name "NU" opened recently in Jerusalem.  It sells T-shirts and posters that inspire people worldwide to take action for important Israeli and global causes, such as aid for survivors of the Carmel forest fire, support for a major Israeli food bank, and aid to Haiti.  Other shirts and posters commemorate Israel's Declaration of Independence and five great leaders in Israel's short history.

Nu, so where does the store's name come from? According to the website,
NU is Hebrew slang for 'so' or 'C'mon' and begs a response when aimed at you! NU founder David Kramer was walking in a busy market in central Jerusalem when he noticed an old man fall to the ground. He was carrying bags full of food, which scattered everywhere and in all his frustration, he turned to onlookers and shouted an unforgettable 'Nuuuuuuuuu.' From then on, the name stuck and became the official brand name. It is the ultimate expression of the brand - to engage and inspire people worldwide to get involved and take action for important issues that effect our world!
If you're planning a trip to Israel, you'll find the store at 14 Shlomtzion HaMalka Street, Jerusalem (just up from Mamilla, just down from O'Connell's). You can also buy the shirts and posters online.

Are Israelis and tourists up to pronouncing this classic Yiddishism correctly? Watch this video and judge for yourself.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jewish Mothers Beware - Your Daughter May Be Taping Your Phone Messages

Amy Borkowsky has been collecting her mother's phone messages for 10 years and has packaged them as two CDs, and now as an iPhone application.

She started saving the tapes from her old dual-microcassette answering machine. As each tape filled up, she would toss it in a drawer, never imagining that someday the messages from her overprotective mom would lead to two "Amy's Answering Machine" CDs, this year's new release, "The Mother of All Comedy CDs," and an iPhone app called "Amy's Mom," now on iTunes.

Amy got her first clue that the messages which drove her crazy could be entertaining to others in her early days on New York's stand-up comedy circuit. After gathering some of her mother's most extreme messages, she played them on stage at Manhattan's top comedy clubs, and audiences consistently howled.

The daughter who Mom nicknamed “Amila” (AY-muh-luh) stepped into the national spotlight when she appeared on the “Today” show with Matt Lauer and on National Public Radio's “Morning Edition” to introduce the first volume of her “Amy's Answering Machine: Messages from Mom” comedy CDs. 

She earned press coverage from Life magazine to a full-page profile in People, and the following year embarked on a 12-city tour for the Amy’s Answering Machine book. Amy has performed at the prestigious “Just for Laughs” Montreal Comedy Festival, and she entertains audiences at events and fundraisers across the country with her mom-based comedy act.

As Susan Adler writes in a brief review in this month's Hadassah Magazine,
The results are hilarious -- and familiar - reminders about how to dress for the weather, upcoming birthdays, the single state, warnings not to get a cat, financial advice and the danger of kidney stones.
You can listen to a few of these real messages at Amy's website. When you get to the website, scroll down and click on the big arrow on the answering machine to hear six funny sample messages.

Some of the messages that are included in the iPhone app appear in this YouTube video.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Kinderlach - Seven Israeli Pre-Teens Sing And Dance On World Stage

Young Orthodox Jewish music producer David Fedida dreamed of conquering the world of Hassidic vocal music. He started by producing weddings and events, and a few years ago he founded the boys’ singing group The Kinderlach.
Fedida and his partner Yishai Lapidot gathered seven boys from Yeshivot all over Israel, and trained them to perform as singers and dancers on Israeli and international stages.

The seven pre-teens bring youthful energy and exuberance to their performances and we thought you'd get a lift from watching them on stage.

Today we're posting two Kinderlach videos to show the range of the boys' talents.  First, a performance at Queens College where they introduce themselves and sing and dance through a medley of Hebrew songs including Hevenu Shalom Aleichem, Hava Nagila, Od Avinu Chai, and Oseh Shalom Bimromav.  Then, in a second video, after starting off with a Spanish-accented Hinei Ma Tov, they launch into a Latino medley of La Bamba and Cielito Lindo.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Israeli Comedy Sketch - "First Time In New York"

Here's a comedy routine to get today off to a good start. An Israeli tourist with a very limited English vocabulary, in New York for the first time, tries to order something in a restaurant.

Everything he asks for gets complicated because he and the waiter just barely understand each other and the tourist is confounded when he is repeatedly asked to clarify the way he wants each dish prepared.

But there's no need for more commentary -- just enjoy the comedic exchange.  The clip is subtitled in Hebrew, but the skit is self-explanatory without the titles.

This skit appeared on Israel's Channel 2.  We don't know the date or the name of the program, but it was just posted on YouTube last week.  If any readers can supply these details, please do so via a comment. A tip of the kippah to Gershon Lehrer for identifying the waiter/manager as Israeli actor, comedian, and theater director Shlomo (Moni) Moshonov.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Binghamton University Students Stage "My Big Fat (Mock) Jewish Wedding"

First there was Tony and Tina's Wedding, then The Godfather's Meshuggener Wedding, and then My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  

Last November, the Jewish students of Binghamton University's Chabad House took on the roles of bride and groom, officiating rabbi, and all of the other roles in a typical Jewish wedding, to produce and act in their own production, My Big Fat (Mock) Jewish Wedding.

Virtually nothing was left out, with students assuming the roles of friends and relatives greeting the happy couple, dancing wildly, escorting the bride and groom at the badeken and chosson's tish, grandparents with canes walking down the aisle, the ceremony under the chuppah, and of course lots of food.  

Nothing about the wedding was different from the real thing, and if you weren't clued in and wandered into the reception room, you wouldn't know that it was only a mock wedding.  The Chabad rabbi sitting in the back row had a big smile on his face as the flower girl threw petals onto the red carpet and as the bride was escorted by her parents to the chuppah.  He must have had great satisfaction that the event was a success, gave the students an education about Jewish wedding customs, and provided a venue for acting and turning a learning experience into a real simcha.

Here is the video showing all of the highlights of the "wedding."  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mel Brooks, King Of Comedy And Politically Incorrectness, Gives A Funny Interview

We've profiled Mel Brooks, comedian, actor, producer and directory when he got his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame last year, and on other occasions.  Now, when we found out that he gave an exclusive interview to Moment magazine last November, we had to share his funny stories and observations with you.

In a wide-ranging interview with Lynda Gorov titled Mel Brooks: King of the Politically Incorrect, Brooks touches on his childhood in Brooklyn, his surprise when he discovered that not every comedian is Jewish, his views on Jewish humor, his Army experiences, and his encounter with and response to anti-semitism. 

Here's a sample:
What makes Jewish humor funny?
I don’t know. I think sometimes the Jews are very cruel and I’m very cruel because we make fun of cripples and misfits. Hinckadicka, I think that means hunchback. The Ritz Brothers had this guy Harry Ritz who would do misfortunates. This tradition may have come from Ukraine, where Jews had fun making fun of stutterers and double­talkers and missteppers. Anyway, Harry Ritz was very funny, and following in his footsteps were Sid Caesar and Jerry Lewis and people who did funny faces and physical comedy. Strangely enough, Jerry Lewis’s crazy funny walk stems from this. This tradition comes from Yiddish theater too.
We couldn't find a video of this particular interview, but we did find a similar interview that he gave to a reporter on ABC-TV that covered some of the same bases.  Here it is for your enjoyment.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hava Nagila Is the Musical Choice Of Dancing Engineer In Peruvian College

If you were Paola Patricia Pereda Navarro, one of the 33 engineers who participated in Talent Night at the College of Engineers in Lima, Peru last week, and had to choose music for a dance performance, what song would you pick as your background music?  Hava Nagila, of course.

This song keeps turning up in the most unexpected locales, of which the latest is Peru.  There's just something about the song that makes it irresistible, whether you're in India, Thailand, Israel, Russia, Texas, the UK, Cuba, or Estonia


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meet The Dysfunctional Meyerwitz Family In "Peep World", New Comedy In Theaters March 25

Peep World, a new comedy arriving in theaters on March 25, follows 24 hours in the life of the wealthy, neurotic, Meyerwitz family, as they prepare for the 70th birthday party of the family patriarch, Henry Meyerwitz. 

Each family member has been shaped in one way or another by the power, success and manipulation of Henry, and not necessarily in a positive way. With the release and overwhelming success of Peep World, a novel written by one of the four siblings exposing the family’s secrets, familial tensions begin to rise.

By the time they all make it to Henry’s celebration, each Meyerwitz has reached a breaking point, making for a comically out-of-control family dinner.

The cast includes Sara Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Michael C. Hall, and Ron Rifkin.

Here's the official trailer. Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jewish Life Returns To Streets Of Ukrainian City Of Lviv

Since 1939 there have been no public celebrations of Jewish life in the streets of Lviv in the Ukraine.  Until last year, that is.  In an effort to revive the Jewish spirit which once ran through the western Ukrainian city, local enthusiasts organized KlezFest, a Jewish folk music festival. Musicians followed a traditional wedding procession through the decorated streets of the old city as actors performed scenes from Jewish life in the 1930s.

According to Wikipedia,
The first known Jewish settlers in Lviv date back to 1256 and became an important part of the city's cultural life, making significant contributions in trade, science and culture. Apart from the Rabbinate Jews there were many Karaite Jews who had settled in the city after coming from the East and from Byzantium. After Casimir III conquered Lviv in 1349 the Jewish citizens received many privileges equal to that of other citizens of Poland.
Lviv had two separate Jewish quarters, one within the city walls and one outside on the outskirts of the city. Each had their separate synagogues, although they both shared a cemetery which was also used by the Karaite community. Before 1939 the city had 97 synagogues.
Before the Holocaust about one third of the city's population was made up of Jews (more than 100,000 on the eve of WWII). In the 1970s the city had over 30,000 Jews. Currently the Jewish population has shrunk considerably as a result of emigration, and to a lesser degree assimilation, and is estimated at 2,000. A number of organizations continue to be active.
Lviv is the city's Ukrainian name.  In Russian it's Lvov, in Polish Lwow, and in German it's Lemberg.  Just in case you were planning to move there, it's interesting to know that in June 2009 the Ukrainian magazine Focus assessed Lviv as the best Ukrainian city to live in.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Simon Konianski", French Comedy, Showing At Jewish Film Festivals

Simon Konianski, a French comedy with English subtitles, has been making the rounds of Jewish film festivals around the world.  It's scheduled to be shown next at the Maine Jewish Film Festival from March 26 through March 31.

Here's a brief synopsis of the plot:

Simon Konianski, age 35, returns to live, temporarily, with his father, Ernest. They succeed in making life miserable for one another. To add spice to this situation, Uncle Maurice and Aunt Mala, Ernest's brother and sister, meddle in everything and notably, try to find a "nice little Jewish girl" for Simon to marry.
When Ernest passes away, Simon fulfills his last request which was to bury him in the village where he was born – in the depths of the Ukraine.

And so Simon finds himself caught up in an event-packed road movie in the company of his paranoid old uncle, his aunt who endlessly nags him about his "goy dancer", his six year old son, his father's body and his ghost – and also a rabbit. (Not to mention his ex, Corazon, who hassles him by phone.) The journey will be nothing like a cruise in the Caribbean.

If you're going to be in Portland the last week in March, the festival would be a good destination. Otherwise you'll have to join us in waiting until this film is released to Netflix and for purchase as a DVD.We'll let you know when it's available. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Comedy Showcase: Rabbi Jason Miller Shares Some Of His Favorite Jokes

Rabbi Jason Miller wears several hats in the Metro Detroit Jewish community. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, he is the rabbi of Tamarack Camps, part-time spiritual leader of Congregation T'chiyah in Oak Park, founder of Kosher Michigan, a kosher certification agency, and a participant in the Rabbis Without Borders fellowship through CLAL (The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership).

Another hat that's of interest to us at Jewish Humor Central is that of a stand-up comic, which Rabbi Jason has worn with great enthusiasm over the past few years. He has performed on stage in synagogues in the midwest, and last week he delivered a talk on Jewish Humor at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a Detroit suburb.

In the ten minute video segment below, Rabbi Jason tells some of his favorite Jewish jokes, touching on business ethics, materialism, Jewish mothers, bris jokes, religious denominations, and holidays. Just in case you miss the punch lines, some of them are displayed in large letters.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

14 Years After His Stroke, Kirk Douglas Brings Laughs And Words Of Wisdom To A Student Audience

When actor Kirk Douglas had his stroke and lost much of his ability to speak 14 years ago at the age of 80, he already had a lifetime of accomplishments.  He is #17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time.

But the acclaimed star of Spartacus, The Juggler, Paths of Glory, Lust for Life, and more than 80 other films wasn't about to give up just because of a stroke.  So he set out to recover as much of his speaking ability as possible.  In the process, his efforts and success have also become legendary.

Last summer, Douglas made an hour-long appearance on stage at California State University - Long Beach before an audience of communication disorder students.  Interviewed by his speech therapist, Dr. Betty McMicken, he captivated his audience with one-liners, a running gag about wilted flowers, and acting verbally playful with his interviewer.

Touching on his upbringing in a rural New York town by immigrant parents, he explained how Issur Danielovich became Kirk Douglas, his friendship with the horse his father used to drive his rag wagon, his first conversation with his mother at age 7 about where snow comes from and how he was born, and how he knew he would be an actor when he played a cute shoemaker in a kindergarten play.

Douglas also reflected on how he found the solution to the depression he felt after his stroke (think about and help other people), how he broke the Hollywood blacklist, and how he met his wife of 54 years.

All in all, we found it to be a very funny and moving interview, which we hope you will also enjoy.  (One word of caution:  It's an hour-long video, which may be more than you are used to getting from Jewish Humor Central.  So if you don't have the time to watch it all, try watching it in 5 or 10 minute segments.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mah Jongg And Comedy Share The Stage At The Museum Of Jewish Heritage

Since last March, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown New York City has been featuring an exhibit on the history of Mah Jongg as it has been played by generations of Jewish women since it became a craze in the 1920s and 1930s.  The exhibit has been so popular that the museum has extended it through February 27.

Writing in The New York Times last year, Steven Heller reported:
The craze, which began in the 1920s, was a novel form of entertainment for a new leisure class and paralleled a middle-class taste for Asian-style interior decoration as well as a “Jewish interest in Chinese food,” says Melissa Martens, the curator of “Project Mah Jongg,” an extensive exhibit opening at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 4 and continuing through December.(NOTE: Now extended through February 27, 2011).
It promises to be a distinctive cultural examination of the game and an opportunity to intimately engage with the ritualistic aspects of mah-jongg, which is enjoying a resurgence through mah-jongg social groups and on the Web (like online mah-jongg solitaire).
Mah-jongg is a game of chance and skill similar to gin rummy, in which each of four players is dealt either 13 or 16 pictographic tiles of different suits. The players then take turns drawing and discarding tiles, with a goal of making four or five combinations of tiles, or melds, and one pair, or head. It was a favorite among Catskill resort habitués and played incessantly by Eastern European immigrant Jewish women in the 1930s.
Last Sunday the museum hosted a six-hour Mah Jongg marathon to benefit its work and an afternoon of comedy related to the Mah Jongg phenomenon.  Here are two videos, the first showing the marathon in progress with interviews with some of its participants, and the second a selection from the comedy session.  

The comedians are Esther Goodhart (The Oriental Yenta) and Dina Pearlman, who tell funny stories about how their parents and grandparents played Mah Jongg in the Catskills and on a mostly Jewish block in a non-Jewish development in Hazlet, New Jersey.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Barbra Streisand Honored By Music Industry Peers At Gala Concert

Some of the biggest names in the music industry gathered in Hollywood Friday night to pay tribute to Barbra Streisand at the MusiCares Person of the Year annual dinner, an event connected to the Grammy awards.

As Edna Gundersen wrote in USA Today,
The honor is bestowed annually by the Recording Academy charity to outstanding musicians for their artistic and philanthropic achievements. Proceeds from the fundraiser provide financial, medical and personal assistance for musicians in need.

Streisand, 68, sat with hubby James Brolin as a glittery parade of impressive singers took the stage in the Los Angeles Convention Center to tackle songs she made famous over the past half century.

Seal turned in a smooth version of the title track from her 1980 Guilty album. British warbler Leona Lewis revived Somewhere. Pianist Herbie Hancock and Canadian jazz-popster Nikki Yanofsky, 17, teamed for On a Clear Day. And Tony Bennett charmed the packed house with a moving rendition of Smile.

By the time Streisand took her turn at the mike to close the evening with a medley of hits, she joked, "I'm stuck with the leftovers." Yet with the opening lines of Happy Days Are Here Again, the cultural icon quickly reminded the crowd why she reigns supreme in the singing universe. She segued into The Way We Were, What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?, Evergreen and I Finally Found Someone before circling back to Happy Days. The consensus? Like buttah.

Wearing an elaborate diamond necklace and a black gown with a plunging neckline and sheer sleeves, Streisand praised MusiCares as a "wonderful organization that takes care of its own." She thanked a variety of colleagues, including her manager of 50 years, Martin Erlichman, joking, "Marty discovered me in the neonatal unit of Brooklyn Hospital."
Streisand turned serious on her love for music.

"I love music for what it does for the soul," she said. "It let me express myself when I had no other outlet."

She quoted Hans Christian Andersen: "When words fail, music speaks."
Her niece recently watched Funny Girl, Streisand noted, "and asked me why I was singing songs from Glee."

The Glee cast was in full force. Darren Criss and the show's a capella Warblers did What Kind of Fool. Lea Michele turned in a strapping My Man. And Matthew Morrison joined Kristen Chenoweth for a rousing One Less Bell to Answer

Still, they had trouble keeping up with the grown-ups. Faith Hill's Send in the Clowns was emotionally wrenching. Diana Krall, playing piano with a jazz combo, set fire to Down With Love. Jeff Beck's stinging guitar solos matched the passion of BeBe Winans and LeAnn Rimes trading verses on Come Rain or Come Shine.

Streisand "is one of the greatest talents we've ever had," said Barry Manilow, who sang Memory from the musical Cats. Her impact on pop culture is immeasurable. "I'm still reeling from you, Barbra."

While most lauded Streisand's artistry and generosity, comedian Bill Maher commended her left-leaning politics and the fact that she's always been, well, a classy lady.

"There was never a picture of her getting out of a car without her underwear on," he said.
Here's a video news report summarizing the gala evening, and, for you nostalgia buffs, a video of Barbra singing Happy Days are Here Again from her first television special in 1965. Enjoy! 

P.S.  The song Happy Days are Here Again has become the unofficial theme song of the Democratic Party, after its use as the theme song of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's successful presidential campaign in 1932.  

What's not as well known is that it was composed in 1929 by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen, Jewish composers and lyricists, for the film Chasing Rainbows.
So what was there to be so happy about?  The song was the film's finale, celebrating the imminent repeal of prohibition.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Abanibi, Israel's 1978 Eurovision Winner, Is Alive And Well On Spanish Reality TV Show

Last July we started a series on the re-emergence on the world scene of Abanibi, Israel's prize-winning song in the 1978 Eurovision contest.  We posted a video of the original winning performance by Izhar Cohen and a swinging version at a wedding dinner in Malaysia.  Then in August we posted a video of another swinging version at a festival in Singapore.  

Now the song has gotten a new lease on life as a result of its being featured on a Spanish reality show called Gran Hermano, the Spanish version of the Big Brother reality show that's been showing on prime time TV in almost 70 countries, including Israel and the U.S., where the 13th season will be broadcast on CBS this summer.

The show's premise is that a group of people live together in a large house, isolated from the outside world but continuously watched by television cameras. Each series lasts for around three months, and there are usually fewer than 15 participants. The housemates try to win a cash prize by avoiding periodic evictions from the house.

A new wrinkle in the show is a swap, where participants from two countries change places, traveling from their home country to another one. Part of this exchange last month between Spain and Israel involved a song contest between the players from both countries, with the Israeli team singing a Spanish song, Bandido, and the Spanish team singing (you guessed it) Abanibi.

So, after that long introduction, you finally get to see the talented Spanish team giving an energetic performance of this silly song.  As we pointed out in previous posts, the song is 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. 


P.S.  Did you wonder why the men have those Afro/Isro hairdos or wigs and why they're all wearing white outfits?  Check out the original Eurovision video with Izhar Cohen, his Afro/Isro hairdo and the group Alphabeta in their white outfits.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best Pastrami Sandwich In New York: And The Winner Is...

Mill Basin Kosher Deli in Brooklyn. That's what The New York Daily News concluded in a new reader poll. In Tuesday's paper, staff writers Jacob E. Osterhout & Amanda P. Sidman reported:
Mark Schachner has owned the Mill Basin Deli for 37 years . His pastrami sandwich has drawn many a follower. For $9.95, it's made to your liking (but he prefers homemade Russian dressing and coleslaw) and is prepared with a secret rub — the ingredients of which only Schachner and his loyal workers know.

"The magic is in the rub, which has a lot of pepper, I can tell you that much," Schachner, 57, says.
Another trick? He steams his pastrami every morning not once, but twice, which leaves the meat juicy but eliminates the fat. The result is a sandwich so good that one may not be enough.
The deli and restaurant, at 5823 Avenue T in Brooklyn, is under the supervision of Rabbi Israel M. Steinberg.  They sell many of their specialties online.

If you have to see it to believe it, join the owner and reporter for a tour of the deli in the video below.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yee-Haw! It's The Hillel-Shammai Showdown. Git Along, Little Dogies!

Shalom Sesame, the Israeli version of Sesame Street, has just posted a collection of skits from their classic and new series on YouTube.  Some are simply Hebrew versions of classic Ernie, Bert, and Cookie Monster sketches.  But there are a few good examples of effective teaching of Jewish culture.

Here is one of the best, a retelling of the famous story of Hillel and Shammai and how they dealt with the stranger who asked to be taught the entire Torah while standing on one foot.  Using a western theme, the narrator retells the story as it is told in the Talmud (translation below) but uses a more child-friendly, animated approach to get the point across.
It happened that a certain heathen came before Shammai and said to him, 'Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.' Thereupon he repulsed him with the builder's cubit which was in his hand.  When he went before Hillel, he said to him, 'What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour:  that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it.' (Tractate Shabbat, 31a)
Enjoy (and learn!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kosher Komedy With Steve Marshall

Steve Marshall is a stand-up comedian who has performed at comedy clubs all around the country.  He is a regular on the Kosher Komedy circuit, with a group of comedians who can be called on to entertain audiences with clean comedy, something not often seen at comedy clubs.  He's also been known to perform edgy comedy, but you won't see that in the video clip here.

Marshall is also an actor, director, and writer of short films.  He has been doing pre-show audience warm-ups for The View for the last three years, and is a regular in opening and closing acts at the Borgata in Atlantic City and the Riviera in Las Vegas.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Nora's Will", Mexican-Jewish Sleeper Dark Comedy Making Rounds Of Jewish Film Festivals

Nora's Will, a surprise hit at Jewish film festivals around the country, is on the road again.

This award-winning black comedy follows the family of Nora (Silvia Mariscal), who carefully plans her suicide so that her assortment of estranged relatives, including ex-husband José (Fernando Luján) will have to celebrate Passover together and hopefully achieve a reconciliation. As José battles with unsympathetic cemeteries, a fractious rabbi and his devoted assistant, and his own son (Ari Brickman), he realizes how deeply he still loved Nora.

The film, in Spanish with English subtitles, will be shown at the Denver Jewish Film Festival on opening night, this Thursday, February 10.

It's now playing in theaters in Chicago, IL, Santa Fe, NM, Boston, MA, and Palm Desert, CA.  It will be coming soon to San Francisco, CA, Scottsdale, AZ, New Haven / Hartford, CT, Dallas, Pittsburgh and San Diego. 

Here's film critic Leonard Maltin reviewing the film, followed by the official trailer.

The DVD is available from and it's on Netflix's save list -- availability date unkown.  We hope you find it, see it, and find it enjoyable.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Comedy Central's The Daily Show Pokes Fun At Jewish House Speaker's Victory In Texas

Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, faced a difficult re-election campaign last month, when some politicians suggested that the post should be held by a conservative Christian.

Straus, a Republican, is a lifelong member of Temple Beth-El, a Reform congregation just north of downtown San Antonio.

As Judson Berger reported for Fox News,
The race to lead the Texas House of Representatives has taken a religious turn, with some conservatives in the state suggesting that the speaker of the House, who is a Jewish Republican, should be replaced by a "Christian conservative."

Over the past month, in a spate of e-mails and political pitches, conservative opponents of incumbent Speaker Joe Straus have said they want him replaced not because of his Jewish religion, but because of his betrayal of Republican principles.

But several of Straus' critics have noted how important it is that a Christian be named to take his place. These discussions have been made public by a series of media reports, drawing condemnation from some corners and making others in the GOP more than a bit uncomfortable.

In one email conversation between two members of the State Republican Executive Committee, official John Cook stressed the need for a Christian to lead other Christians in the legislature.

"We elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it," Cook said in the Nov. 30 e-mail, first published by the Texas Observer.
It didn't take long for Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to see the comedic possibilities of the Texas election.  They dispatched tongue-in-cheek reporter John Oliver to get to the bottom of the story by interviewing a rabbi and a pastor.  It's not clear whether the interviewees knew whether or not the interviewer was asking serious questions or making them foils for his brand of humor, but the results are funny.

Reporting on the show in the Dallas Morning News on Friday, Wayne Slater wrote:
The contest was never really in doubt, but did spark some national attention when some marginal Straus opponents mounted a campaign for a Christian speaker. Straus is Jewish.
The Daily Show presented the whole thing as a kind of miracle on the prairie, sort of Lone Star history meets Hanukkah. Catch the interview with David Welch of the Texas Pastors Council insisting that his group isn't against having a Jew as speaker. Welch says a person's faith shouldn't disqualify them from holding office in Texas. Unless they're a Muslim. The final scene is in a classroom where school children (one wearing a cowhide prayer shawl) sing as if it were a Hebrew folk song about how the Jewish speaker won a second term.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Adam Sandler Gets Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame; Henry Winkler Says It's Bashert

On Tuesday, Adam Sandler, Saturday Night Live's Opera Man, writer and performer of The Hanukkah Song, and actor in 41 films and TV programs, joined the 2,430 movie industry notables who have received stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported yesterday,
Sandler brought his two daughters, ages 2 and 4, to Tuesday's ceremony in front of the W Hollywood Hotel. 

The girls stole the show, taking the microphone from their father several times during his acceptance speech to say "I love my daddy."
"Let's hear it for my kids, who are now showing you that I cannot control them," Sandler joked.
Actor Henry Winkler spoke on Sandler's behalf, telling the crowd that the location of Sandler's star is bashert, Yiddish for meant to be, since it is located directly across the street from his own.
Sandler, who gained fame on "Saturday Night Live," has starred in such films as "Big Daddy," "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates." His new film, "Just Go With it," in which he stars with Jennifer Aniston, opens later this month.
Here is a short summary video of the event, followed by the full 15 minute version including comments by actors Henry Winkler and Kevin James, and Sandler's acceptance speech.  Enjoy! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

UFO Sighted Over Temple Mount In Jerusalem; Real Or Hoax?

At least four videos have been posted on the internet purporting to show a unidentified flying object swooping down from the sky, positioning itself just above the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock in the old city of Jerusalem, and then zooming away at amazing speed.  Fact or fiction?

Last Friday night, two witnesses who happened to be at the Armon Hanatziv lookout over Mount Zion, and the Dome of the Rock-Temple Mount in Jerusalem at 1am, managed to film what might be one of the most interesting UFO clips ever captured.

The men notice the large ball shaped UFO suspended in the night sky and begin to film. At a little after one minute into the clip the UFO descends almost to ground level directly over the Dome of the Rock-Temple Mount. The craft hovers there for a short while, flickers, and shoots upwards at an incredible speed, to the shock of the witnesses. 

As you watch the first clip, from a report on the Today show, notice that the second man is recording a video on his phone.  This second video showed up on YouTube a day later, showing the same scene from a slightly different angle.  We show both videos below.

Yesterday a third and fourth video taken by other witnesses surfaced on YouTube. The third one has a tourist from Mississippi comment that she's seen something like this back home.  Both the third and fourth clips are brighter and zoom closer to the Temple mount.  

What do you think?  Are these videos real or are they fakes?  We'll be watching for updates and more reports before forming an opinion.  In the meantime, enjoy!