Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Last month we introduced some funny explanations of Yiddish words and expressions from Shtetl Montreal. Today we're posting a few more from their growing collection of colorful examples from this varied and expressive language.
This batch includes a chalerya (such a witch), du host a langer tsung (you've got a big mouth), and hock mir nisht kein chainik (literally, don't bang me a tea kettle, but meaning go away, don't bother me).
The series is called Yiddish and Danish, not because the commentators are Danes, but because of the pastry that's placed in front of them to make the conversation flow. Enjoy!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Unless your family comes from Morocco, Tunisia, or Algeria, you probably spent the hours after Passover ended last night putting away the Pesach dishes and getting the house back to its normal state. But if you have family or friends with a North African background, you may have been lucky to spend a few hours celebrating the Mimouna, also spelled Mimunah.
The Mimouna was celebrated in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood Monday night, the end of Passover in Israel, with President Shimon Peres, Israel's Chief Rabbi, Knesset Members and other dignitaries in attendance.
As Gavriel Queenann and Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu write in Arutz Sheva-IsraelNationalNews.com,
Mimouna is a celebration originating among "Maghrebim" [North African Jews] held the day after Passover. Historically it marks the start of spring and the permissibility of eating leavened products after their prohibition during the holiday. It is also popularly treated as a celebration of the Rambam, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, the great medieval Torah luminary, for whom many say the festival is named.
To get an idea of how Mimouna is celebrated in private homes, check out this video from Shalom Sesame. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
First, there was the iPod. Then came the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. Now, thanks to the funny folks at Israel's Eretz Nehederet Saturday Night Live-Like TV show, there's iBoy.
Yes, a robotic boy with an Apple screen for a head. The couple in the mock commercial are delighted when the box arrives with their new son (It took 9 months for delivery). But their real son has other ideas and has difficulty coping with the sudden loss of parental attention.
But there's no escaping the realities of technological innovation, and family relationships change again with the arrival of iBoy2.
We'll be celebrating the last two days of Passover tomorrow and Tuesday. Our usual mix of humor and Yiddishe nachas will resume Wednesday morning.
We'll be celebrating the last two days of Passover tomorrow and Tuesday. Our usual mix of humor and Yiddishe nachas will resume Wednesday morning.
(A tip of the kippah to Esther Kustanowitz for bring this video to our attention.)
Friday, April 22, 2011
If you've been eating gefilte fish from a jar or from a frozen loaf, you haven't been eating "real" gefilte fish. Or so say the Yiddish-speaking cooks from the Jewish Daily Forward (the Forverts).
Yes, they're back with recipes for the real Polish shtetl stuff, and also for real chreyn (horseradish). We didn't get it in time to prepare for the seder, but Passover has another five days left, so you can try this method and compare it with you own recipe or the widely used supermarket offerings.
Gefilte, in Yiddish, means stuffed, so these cooks take it literally, and force the food-processed result into the original skin of the carp or whitefish. If that's your cup of tea, then go for it, and enjoy!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
O sole mio is a globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898. It has been performed and covered by many artists, including such operatic singers as Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, and Luciano Pavarotti. It also became popular when Tony Martin recorded it as There's No Tomorrow and Elvis Presley made it popular as It's Now or Never.
Now for our readers who are more partial to classical and operatic style singing, we're sharing one more Passover song, set to O sole mio. After all of the Pesach pop song parodies that we've posted over the past few weeks, this one, by Rabbi David Rubinfeld of Melbourne, Australia, should be a welcome change of pace.
Chief Minister of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation since 2002, Rabbi Rubinfeld has actually been with the Congregation since 1989, when he assumed the position of Cantor, remaining in that position until his assumption of the chief Rabbinical role in 2002.
Born in Belgium, but raised and educated initially in the USA (New York City), with further studies in Israel, Rabbi Rubinfeld settled in Australia in 1973.
Renowned for both his wonderful operatic voice, as well as his irreverent sense of humour, Rabbi Rubinfeld still retains his Cantorial status while serving as Chief Minister, assisted by the team of the Chazan Sheni, Baal Koreh, and Choir. The Rabbi and his wife Miriam, while fixtures in Melbourne, frequently visit the USA where their children, and now some grandchildren, reside.
(A tip of the kippah to Sheila Zucker for bringing this video to our attention)
Monday, April 18, 2011
We don't often repeat a blog post at Jewish Humor Central. But with the Passover holiday starting tonight with the first seder, we thought it would be appropriate to rerun the most popular blog post we've shared since Jewish Humor Central went live in October 2009, especially since its viewer interest peaks at Passover time.
We posted it last March 18, just before Pesach and got a tremendous response. Since our subscriber list has increased almost tenfold since then, we're giving it another shot so that it can be seen by a much larger audience. So whether it's new for you or whether it's an oldie but goodie, we hope you enjoy it, and we wish you a kosher and happy Pesach. We're taking the first two days of the holiday off, but we'll be back with our usual unpredictable and funny mix on Thursday.
A New Jersey satirist who calls himself Billy Ray Sheet has created a funny Pesach adaptation of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville that we think you'll like. It meets our high standards in all respects, so we're bringing it to you for your enjoyment as you go through all of the preparations for Passover. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Tonight's the night for Bedikat Chametz - the search for unleavened bread. Compared to the excitement of the seder (first one this Monday night, second one Tuesday night - unless you're in Israel) there's not much going on during this usually perfunctory gathering of bread scraps placed around the house to insure that something will be found to justify the blessing that's recited.
Well, this year, there's something different. If you like, you can do the search to the music of Trey Kaley, an a cappella group from the New City Jewish Center of Rockland County.
The synagogue's assistant rabbi, Jeremy Ruberg, and the Trey Kaley group took the song Tik Tok by pop singer Kesha, and turned it into a rousing accompaniment to the exhaustive search that they conducted in the sanctuary and hallways of the center.
So why not liven up your search while playing the song in the background and get your Passover off to a fun start?
Friday, April 15, 2011
Love it or hate it, the second seder is a fact of life everywhere except in Israel.
Some find it annoying to have to do the same thing all over again for two nights in a row.
But to many people who work hard for weeks before Passover -- planning, cleaning the house, shopping, and cooking mainly for the big night, having a chance to do it again offers a unique opportunity to revisit the themes of the Haggadah and related readings in a more relaxed atmosphere, while enjoying more special foods and sharing conversation with another set of guests.
The idea of the second seder as the "Same Thing As Before" was set to music by KOLture Shock (שוק תרבותי), an a cappella group of Israelis and English-speaking students and olim living in Jerusalem. The group, which uses only their voices -- no instruments -- took the song Just the Way You Are by pop singer Bruno Mars, and wrote new lyrics reflecting the attitude that the second seder is "a second trial for all the Jews still in exile." We prefer to view it as "a second look at all the shortcuts that we took" the first night. Enjoy the video!
(A tip of the kippah to Esther Kustanowitz for bringing this video to our attention.)
Thursday, April 14, 2011
We introduced our readers to Joel Chasnoff in January, 2010, in conjunction with the publication of his book, The 188th Crybaby Brigade, about his funny experiences when, at the age of 24, he enlisted in the Israeli army.
Joel has been doing stand-up comedy in the U. S. and abroad at scores of comedy clubs, colleges and universities, camps, congregations, and conferences and conventions of major Jewish organizations.
His comedy topics cover a wide range, but we think he's at his funniest when he waxes nostalgic about his youth in Jewish day schools and camp, and his descriptions of Jewish foods and Jewish holidays.
With Passover just a few days away, we thought you'd like to see his routine about the holiday, and about Jews and food, from Passover to Chanukah and Shabbat.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
With only five days remaining until we sit down for the first (and in Israel, the only) seder, it's the right time to start picking and choosing which Haggadot to use at the table, assigning roles to all of the participants, deciding which parts of the Haggadah to skip or how many commentaries to add.
It was produced by Ayeka, a Jewish spiritual educational organization that was founded in 2006 by Aryeh Ben David, who grew up in New York City, moved to Israel in 1978, received rabbinic ordination, and taught at the Pardes Institute.
After many years in the classroom, teaching subjects including Torah, Talmud, prayer, ethics, and interpersonal relationships, Aryeh sought a way to enable students to more deeply engage with Judaism and to explore their spiritual identities. He found it with the creation of Ayeka, which includes on its Advisory Board Dr. Erica Brown and Rabbis Yitz Greenberg and Avi Weiss.
Ayeka has developed some interesting new ideas for the seder, including guided conversations for adults and afikoman cards for kids 4-12.
One of the writers of the video is comedian Yisrael Campbell, whom we profiled in October 2009 when he started his Circumcise Me tour. And one of the actors is Benji Lovitt, whose Rosh Hashanah street interviews in Tel Aviv we blogged about last September.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Shopping in a supermarket is rarely an exciting experience. But when the 8th Day Band took to the aisles of the Pomegranate kosher supermarket in Brooklyn to create a music video of their hit song Ya'alili, the lively combination of Ashkenazic and Sephardic music reverberated as shoppers, butchers, shelf stockers and custodians joined them and a cast of Bukharian dancers and instrumentalists playing the bouzouki, duduk, doumbek, and drums. Even the fish on ice in the seafood department got into the act.
8th Day, which was co-founded by brothers Shmuel and Bentzi Marcus, is quickly becoming one of Jewish Music's hottest new bands. The group has released three studio albums that get air play on the radio in New York and Israel.
They have played hundreds of shows across the globe, including in New York's Lincoln Center, the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Universal Studios Citywalk in Hollywood, and on stages in Hong Kong, Montreal, South Carolina, and many other locations.
8th Day's fresh and unique sound is complimented by their catchy lyrics (mostly English with some Hebrew and Yiddish mixed in) and their spirited vocal harmonies. Their mega YouTube hit Ya'alili was rated one of the top videos in Israel, the US and Australia.
(A tip of the kippah to Sheila Zucker for bringing this video to our attention.)
Monday, April 11, 2011
In 1904, Abe and Minnie Dubroff immigrated from Russia to Brooklyn where they raised seven daughters and a son. For a century, the family has gathered at Passover and celebrated the Seder together... first in Brooklyn, then in Boonton, New Jersey and Newburgh, New York.
Six Weeks before the Seder the three surviving sisters shopped and chopped, tasted and seasoned. Using recipes nearly a century old, they began to put together the Gefilte Fish, Cholent, Horse Radish and Sponge Cake.
The Gefilte Fish Chronicles , a film showing the whole Pesach preparation process from shopping for the perfect fish and meat through the cooking of enormous quantities of gefilte fish, cholent, and matzo brie, and celebrating the seder, has gotten rave reviews whenever it's shown on TV, and here it comes again!
In March 2007 The New York Times printed a review by Ron Wertheimer. Read it here.
The entire hour-long film will be shown on PBS stations on Sunday, April 17. In the New York Area you can see it on WNET (13) at 2 pm or on WLIW (21) at 5 pm. Set your video recorders and enjoy!
Here's another clip as the fish is delivered.
And another as the ladies go to the butcher to buy meat for the cholent (and give the butcher an education on how to cut the meat)
Sunday, April 10, 2011
G-dcast, the educational project that uses funky cartoons and narration to explain all of the weekly Torah portions, has been producing videos that do the same for Jewish holidays.
Their Passover cartoon takes the Four Sons out of the Haggadah and brings them to life. Talking to each other and bantering about the holiday and its features, they seem like a bunch of siblings engaged in normal brotherly interactions.
During the course of the back and forth wisecracks, they manage to touch on most of the highlights of the seder and the story of Passover."
After all is said and done, the "son who doesn't know how to ask" gets in the last word: "Why don't we have any sisters?"
At the end of the segment, some questions are posed about unusual Pesach observances in other countries.
In Ethiopia, why do Jews break their dishes on Passover?
Why do Afghan Jews beat each other with scallions during their seders?
In Poland, why do Jews pour water on the floor at the Passover seder?
In Gibraltar, do Jews really put bricks in their charoset?
What do Syrians break their matzah in the shape of?
Looking for the answers and other topics for discussion at the seder? Check out and print the Teacher's Guide.
One more question: What's with the Russian music and costumes?
The answer, from the producer and director: "Jews live all over the world of course. We thought it would be randomly fun to set this episode in Russia so that we could write some funky music and then have the world tour at the end!"
Friday, April 8, 2011
Last week we featured a video of Shalom Sesame muppets searching for the afikoman while singing Matzah in the House, a parody of Les Miserables' Master of the House. Today we return to Shalom Sesame for another Passover video.
This time, it's the story of Khalikidan's Pesach. Khalikidan and her family came to Israel from Ethiopia and live in the seaside city of Netanya. We join her family in baking their own matzah, searching the house for chametz, and share Khalikidan's excitement in reciting the four questions and searching for the afikoman.
The Ethiopian Jewish community, known as “Beta Israel” is an ancient community which was cut off from the rest of the Jewish Diaspora centuries ago. There are differing theories as to the community’s origins and when they went to Ethiopia.
The large Aliyah from Ethiopia began after rulings were issued by the Chief Rabbis of Israel at that time, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef in 1973 and Rabbi Shlomo Goren in 1975, declaring Beta Israel members to be Jews.
Between 1977 and 1984 a total of some 7,000 Jews came to Israel on foot, via IDF naval ships and by plane in numerous small operations.
Due to the imminent danger that threatened the Jews remaining in hostile Ethiopia, a covert aerial evacuation operation was planned. The operation, called “Operation Moses” brought 6,700 Ethiopian Jews to Israel between November 1984 and January 1985. However, the operation was prematurely publicized by the media, causing it to be halted before all the Jews were evacuated. This resulted in families being separated, with some members in Israel and others returning to their villages in Ethiopia. A number of months later, in 1985, within the framework of a small covert operation called “Operation Sheba” an additional 650 people were flown to Israel.
Following a long interruption, a large wave of immigrants left in 1991 in yet another operation, called “Operation Solomon”. This complex, well planned operation airlifted some 14,400 people from Addis Ababa to Israel in a single day.
The Aliyah of Ethiopian Jewry represents one of the most fascinating and wonderful stories of the Jewish people and of Zionism. It expresses the fulfillment of an ancient dream as well as the longing for and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Consider for a moment the primitive conditions under which the Israelites experienced slavery in Egypt, God communicated to Moses through a burning bush, and Moses struggled for ways to get his messages to Pharaoh.
How different would it have been if all of the leading characters in the Exodus had access to the communication tools that we take for granted today?
Just suppose that God, Moses, and Pharaoh had the internet, Google, Skype, YouTube, email, Twitter, Amazon, Craigslist, and cell phones available to them. How different would it have been?
The folks at aish.com have reimagined the Exodus with these tools that we take for granted today and created a funny video which is going viral this week.
Among the lightning-fast visuals (don't blink or you'll miss many of them) are:
- Moses logging on with his password (BasketBaby).
- CNN Breaking News: Pharaoh Enslaves Jews; World Leaders Condemn Israel.
- Moses asking Yahoo Answers why the bush is burning but not being consumed.
- While he's asking he gets a Skype message from God (It's me, God! Go down, Moses. Way down to Egypt's land.)
- Moses replies that he's on it, and does an immediate Google search for Pharaoh's Palace (not Pharaoh's Pizza Palace or Pharaoh's Palace Bar & Grill).
All of this in just the first 30 seconds of this 2+ minute video.
This is one of those movies that you have to watch many times and use the pause button to catch the clever comments embedded in the details of Facebook and Twitter messages.
So here it is for your enjoyment as we continue the countdown to Passover. Only 11 days to go!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
One of the first themes of the Haggadah that we read at the Passover seder is All who are hungry, let them come and eat.
These days, it's unusual for most families to have the hungry streaming into their dining rooms as the seder begins. But that's why it's an age-old Jewish tradition to contribute to a Ma'ot Chitim (literally "money for wheat") fund administered by a local organization that will distribute money to the needy to buy provisions for the holiday.
The Federations of North America have produced a short (2 minute) video to bring this concept home without even one spoken word. It's been picked up by many local Federations as a way to help people fulfill this important mitzvah. They've also created a web site, www.thispassover.org, to facilitate contributions at the local level.
An extra benefit of this web site is a collection of Passover recipes and hands-on videos on preparing everything from matzo ball soup and brisket to a variety of desserts. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
There's something about Jewish holidays that brings out the parody gene. Every year we see more and more parodies of pop songs and they're looking more and more professional. The slickest of these parodies have been coming from three sources: the singing and dancing students of Ein Prat in Kfar Adumim, Israel, the Maccabeats, an all-male a cappella choir from Yeshiva University, and the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) with their Jewish Treats (Facebook) and Jewish Tweets (Twitter.)
Yesterday we posted Dayenu/Coming Home, the Ein Prat Passover contribution. While we were typing away, the NJOP crew posted their entry on YouTube, following their successful pop parodies for Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat.
It's called The Best Seder in the USA, a takeoff on Miley Cyrus' big hit, Party in the USA. Here it is for you to enjoy, followed by the original that it's based on. As for the Maccabeats, we hear they're busily working on a sequel to their Chanukah and Purim parodies. We'll share it as soon as we get it.
Monday, April 4, 2011
The Fountainheads of Ein Prat, the Israeli Academy for Leadership, have done it again! Just a few weeks after welcoming Purim with a song and dance production in the Judean desert where their school is located, they have released a video called Dayenu/Coming Home that re-enacts the Exodus from Egypt in a location that seems just made for it.
They haven't left anything out, from the building of cities for Pharaoh to the splitting and crossing of the Red Sea. We're sure you'll enjoy the singing and dancing of these talented young men and women from Kfar Adumim.
(A tip of the kippah to "Eagle Eye" Esther Kustanowitz for spotting this one shortly after it was posted on YouTube and putting it on Facebook even before we could share it with you.)
Sunday, April 3, 2011
We've been running a series of funny commercials from Israel ever since we started Jewish Humor Central, but we found that the chassidic community in Brooklyn can also be a good source of funny ads and slapstick comedy.
Menashe Lustig, who calls himself Mr. Chusid, appears in a series of comedy sketches online that we'll share with you in the weeks ahead. Most of the dialogue is in Yiddish, but the comedy is broad and expressive and can be understood without mastering the mama loshen.
Just in time for Pesach, Lustig, after burning his chometz and reciting the appropriate blessing, proceeds to look for chometz in his car and clean it. Frustrated with the mess and dirty appearance of the car, he first tries to use his yarmulke as a rag to wash the trunk lid, and then gives up. He calls his wife to get the number of a car wash that sponsors the skit, asking her to spell out the number in Yiddish (347-WASH) by repeating "W as in Velvel, A as in Anything, S as in Shin and H as in Hock Nisht Keyn Tchainik."
We hope you'll enjoy this as you do your own cleaning for Passover.
Friday, April 1, 2011
What could a bunch of muppets searching for a missing afikoman have in common with a cunning and comical innkeeper and his wife in France in the early 1800s?
Well, thanks to the impression that the Broadway musical Les Miserables had on the writers of Shalom Sesame, what they have in common is the music of a song, or maybe most of its notes.
Just in time for Passover, Shalom Sesame, a version of Sesame Street aimed at introducing children to Jewish life and Israel, has posted a video of muppet characters looking all over for a missing afikoman while singing Matzah in the House, an adaptation of the Les Mis song Master of the House.
If you don't remember the Broadway original, or if you do and would like to hear it again, here's a link to Master of the House as sung at the tenth anniversary of the show. Enjoy both versions!