Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Weep

A Special Message From the Blogger-in-Chief:

Every year we read in the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) the well known verse:

To every thing there is a season...
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Ever since we started Jewish Humor Central, we've  been focusing each day on the laughing and dancing.

But we're sad that today for us it's a time to weep and a time to mourn the passing of our muse and inspiration for everything we do, Shulamith M. Kustanowitz.

Shuly, my loving and talented wife, who despite being jealous of all the time I spend with my computer, has edited many of my blog entries and served as a gentle censor of some of the entries that might have otherwise entered the blogosphere with questionable content.

We will miss her terribly, and in her memory and honor we will be observing the shloshim (thirty day) mourning period. That means no posts for the next month. 

I know she wouldn't want me to give up the blog entirely, so again in her honor and as a tribute to her love and devotion, I plan to resume this blog in about a month. I hope you'll rejoin me then in starting each day with a smile.

Al Kustanowitz

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chassidic Klezmer Violinist Takes an Irish Turn at London Wedding

Last June we profiled Daniel Ahaviel, a British klezmer violinist who made aliyah to Israel in 1988. His violin playing covers an amazing range of musical styles, including chassidic, klezmer, and Irish. 

This week he made an appearance at a Chassidic wedding in London, playing a combination of music from the Irish productions Riverdance/Lord of the Dance, and traditional Chasssidic music.

Watch the reactions of the wedding guests in their shtreimels as they look on in fascination at the surge of Irish music, not quite knowing what to do with it. As soon as the style shifts to familiar Jewish music, they quickly figure out what to do. Dance!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

2nd Avenue Deli Fights Arizona Lawsuit on Stealing Sandwich Names

Instant Heart Attack Sandwich by 2nd Ave. Deli
The Heart Attack Grill, a non-kosher deli in Chandler, Arizona, has filed a lawsuit against New York City's 2nd Avenue Deli, claiming that it stole the names of some of its most popular sandwiches, the Single, Double, Triple, and Quadruple Bypass Burgers.

According to Reuters, the 2nd Ave Deli asked a federal judge Tuesday to declare that it had not imitated the Arizona sandwiches by offering an "Instant Heart Attack Sandwich" and "Triple Bypass Sandwich" because the New York creations were kosher and used completely different ingredients.

Writing in the New York Post, Scott Shifrel reports:

An Arizona restaurant's trademark case against the 2nd Ave Deli's "Instant Heart Attack Sandwich" is full of baloney, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Triple Bypass Burger by Heart Attack Grill
The Heart Attack Grill, which "proudly serves unhealthy and overly caloric fare such as hamburgers, fries cooked in lard," claims in a letter that the famed New York deli stole its idea for the sandwich and for a planned "Triple Bypass Sandwich."
The 2nd Ave Deli, fought back with a lawsuit asking a federal judge to declare that there is no copyright infringement.
The New York deli says it has been selling its version of the sandwich - of two large potato pancakes (latkes) served with a choice of corned beef, pastrami, turkey, or salami piled high - since 2004, while the Arizona eatery has only been open since 2005.
The Phoenix-based grill, which basically sells stacks of cheeseburgers, is decidedly not kosher and unsuitable for the 2nd Ave Deli's customer base, according to the deli's press release titled "Kiss My Tuchas."
"There is no way that the "Instant Heart Attack Sandwich" could possibly be confused with the "Triple Bypass Burger," said Jeremy Lebewohl, whose uncle, Abe Lebewhohl, founded the delicatessen.
The Heart Attack Grill, which features a single, double, triple and quadruple bypass hamburgers, threatened to sue in a letter sent to the deli, also known as "Uncle Abies," on March 29.
"We believe you copied Heart Attack Grill's family of medically themed food items, including its 'BYPASS' trademarks," the letter said in part. "Although copying is the highest form of flattery, in the case of Uncle Abies, copying Heart Attack Grill's trademarks is a violation of Federal Trademark Law."
Yesterday's lawsuit filed by the 2nd Ave Deli, now located on 33rd street between Third and Lexington avenues, seeks to have a judge declare no infringement, as well as unspecified court costs.
(Photos: 2nd Avenue Deli, Matt York/AP)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Royal Wedding Spoof Video Goes Klezmer

A week before the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, T-Mobile created an ad in the form of a spoof video preview of the wedding entrance procession. The video went viral and drew millions of viewers.

But it also created some spoofs of the spoof, including the klezmer version we found on YouTube and that we're sharing with you below.

The original T-Mobile Royal Wedding video features 15 royal lookalikes, including the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, and Prince Harry, who dance their way down the aisle in a routine choreographed to the East 17 song, 'House of Love'. But as you can see, it's also an almost perfect fit to the Yiddish klezmer song Chosson Kalleh Mazeltov.

Dressed in a ceremonial Army uniform, the Prince’s double disco-dances in the aisle, then joins doppelgangers of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie for more moves before bending down for “William” to leapfrog over him. 


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Musical Prayer for Israel on its 63rd Birthday

On this day of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's 63rd Independence Day, we bring you a new musical rendition of the Prayer for the Peace of the State of Israel, performed by Gabie Sykora and Holly Dinur, members of a womens' choir in Ra'anana, Israel.

They have been performing together for women's audiences for the past seven years. Gabie and Holly’s musical style is an eclectic mix of contemporary, Chassidic, Israeli, folk, rock, among others.  

Their first CD, Lechu V'neilchah b'or Hashem, is available in stores in Israel and via the web.

Here is the prayer in Hebrew and its English translation from Siddur Sim Shalom:

Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of the people Israel; Bless the State of Israel, with its promise of redemption. Shield it with Your love; spread over it the shelter of Your peace. Guide its leaders and advisors with Your light and Your truth. Help them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy Land. Deliver them; crown their efforts with triumph. Bless the land with peace, and its inhabitants with lasting joy. And let us say: Amen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Funny Israeli Commercials: How Isaac Newton Really Disccovered Gravity

We've been running a series of funny Israeli commercials produced by Neviot, producer of one of the most popular brands of drinking water. The common theme is how their product played a previously unknown role in the creation of great works of art and scientific discoveries.

Earlier this year we posted a commercial revealing how Leonardo Da Vinci managed to change the frown on Mona Lisa's face to a smile just in time to complete his famous painting and how Michelangelo was inspired to create his famous David sculpture.

Here's one set in England in 1666 where Sir Isaac Newton is hit in the head by a bottle of water that leads him to discover his law of gravity. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Haredi Newspaper Photoshops Hillary Clinton Out Of Iconic White House Bin Laden Mission Photo


A Yiddish Haredi Brooklyn newspaper, Der Zeitung, has printed a revisionist version of the iconic photo of the White House staff watching a live telecast of the assault on Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan by removing Hillary Clinton and a female staffer from the picture.

Reporting in today's Jerusalem Post, Jordana Horn writes:
The photograph showing President Barack Obama and staffers in the White House Situation Room carefully watching the raid in progress by US forces in Pakistan on the bin Laden compound last Sunday has been published far and wide.

One Hassidic paper in Brooklyn, however, has chosen to alter the photo – excising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another female staffer from the picture.
First reported in the blog, the photoshopped picture was published in the Yiddish newspaper Der Zeitung (The Time) on Friday, with empty spaces where Clinton had been sitting and where the female staffer had stood.
While Der Zeitung had no comment as to why it altered the picture, many conjectured that it was either because of concerns about immodesty, or strong feelings that women should not be in positions of power.

“This is a bit silly,” one commentator wrote at failedmessiah. “Secretary of State Clinton was not dressed immodestly. There was no intent of objectification in the photo. Haven’t the editors got something better to do?”

This isn't the first instance of  Haredis eliminating photos of women from public display. In October 2009 we posted a story about how a Haredi news blog airbrushed the face of model Bar Refaeli from a clothing billboard in B'nei B'rak. And she wasn't wearing immodest clothing, either.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shalom Aleichem With Idan Yaniv, Daniel Ahaviel, and the Kinderlach

In February we profiled The Kinderlach, a group of seven pre-teen boys who have become a worldwide musical sensation. But The Kinderlach don't always perform alone.

Sometimes they join forces with other singers and musicians to create something special, and we found it in this music video.

Watch as popular Israeli singer Idan Yaniv walks into a synagogue where the boys and a cantor have already started to welcome the Shabbat with the singing of Shalom Aleichem. He joins the cantor on the bimah. When the service ends, the entourage walks into the street where they encounter friends who invite them into their home. The TV is turned off, a table is set, candles are lit, and they welcome Shabbat together.

Did you recognize the cantor? He's Daniel Ahaviel, the Chassidic-Klezmer-Irish violinist we wrote about last June.

We hope you enjoy the video. Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New York Israel Film Festival Opens Tonight With Intimate Grammar - A New Prize Winning Film

Enriching the American vision of Israeli life and culture through the powerful medium of film, the Israel Film Festival has become the largest showcase of Israeli films in the United States.  2011 marks the 25th anniversary of this much-acclaimed showcase that celebrates Israeli cinema in the United States.  

The 2011 Israel Film Festival will begin its milestone anniversary year with a VIP Reception in the Edwardian Room of the Plaza Hotel, and then the participants will segue to the adjacent Paris Theatre for the Awards presentation and Opening Night Film.  The 25th Israel Film Festival is proud to honor Actor Liev Schreiber, 2011 IFF Outstanding Achievement In Film Award; legendary film director and choreographer Stanley Donen will be honored with the IFF Lifetime Achievement Award; and celebrated Producer/Director Micha Shagrir with the 2011 IFF Cinematic Achievement Award. 

The Opening Night film is the New York premiere of Nir Bergman’s acclaimed film INTIMATE GRAMMAR, which recently won the Best Feature Film Award from the Jerusalem International Film Festival as well as the Sakura Grand Prix from the Tokyo International Film Festival

Encompassing over 30 titles, including award-winning features, documentaries and television programs, the Festival opens Thursday, May 5 at Paris Theatre, and continues through May 19, 2011 at the AMC Loews 84th Street 6 (2310 Broadway).

Here's a short summary of Intimate Grammar, the movie adaptation of David Grossman's acclaimed novel, follwed by the trailer. Enjoy!

1960’s - A new generation is growing up in Israel, a militant one that will not go through another Holocaust. But Aharon doesn't fit the mold. His soul seeks refinement and art, which he can't find at home. How could he? For his father, a Holocaust survivor, human existence is reduced to war and survival. Aharon refuses to become like his parents. Realizing that his is responsible for his own maturation, he embarks on a dangerous inner journey crossing the boundary between childhood and adolescence. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Celebrate Israel's 63rd Birthday Next Week With "Israel Wave Your Flag"

Next Tuesday, May 10, marks Yom Ha'Atzmaut, the 63rd birthday of the State of Israel. 

This is the week to look for new videos to celebrate the occasion, and the first of the lot is already in. It's Israel Wave Your Flag by Enjoy!

(A tip of the kippah to Benji Lovitt for bringing this video to our attention.)