Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Funny Israeli Commercials: Flavored Pretzel Thins and a Very Young Ben-Gurion


Beigel Beigel, an Israeli company that makes many different varieties of pretzels, is running a funny commercial set in a bakery in Poland in 1880.

The actors wear period costumes and the lighting and staging bring the shtetl world to life.  The bakers' son bursts into the bakery with a new and exciting idea -- flavored pretzels. His mother reacts with shock -- Flavor in food? It can't be. We're Polish. That's for the Moroccans.

Then his father delivers the punch line "When the little Ben-Gurion becomes Prime Minister of Israel, then we'll bake flavored pretzels." as the camera cuts to a cute little boy with wild shocks of blond hair.

The commercial plays in Yiddish, with Hebrew and English titles. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Get 5,000 Identically Dressed Rabbis to Pose for a Photo; "Hatch, Match, and Dispatch"



When the 5,000 Chabad shluchim (emissaries) gather each year in Crown Heights, Brooklyn for their annual convention, one tradition that is said to come from a request by the Rebbe himself, is for the entire group to pose for a photo that is displayed in Chabad Houses all over the world.

There is some uncertainty as to whether all 5,000 shluchim or only about 3,000 actually showed up for the photo at this year's conference, which concluded Sunday evening, but we find it hard to tell the difference. 

Last year we wrote about the logistics involved in photographing and feeding such a large group. This year we're sharing a video where a Chabad leader explains the origin of the group photo and its importance, and another video where Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, organizer of the conference, describes the Chabad mission in surprisingly modern marketing terms. 

"We're in sales and service," he says. "We sell God, we sell the Torah, we sell Mitzvot. It's a very marketable commodity. If it's packaged correctly and if it's packaged properly, it's a tremendous commodity.

He also comes up with a slogan for the movement: "Hatch, Match, and Dispatch." "We're there when somebody gets born, we're there when somebody gets married, and we're there when somebody, God forbid, has to leave the world."

Jewish Humor Central joins in the pop culture aspect of Chabad marketing by adding our own annual tradition of including a "Where's Waldo" challenge for our eagle-eye readers. See if you can find Waldo, and enjoy the videos.

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Photo Logistics:

Marketing Judaism and "Hatch, Match, and Dispatch":

Monday, November 28, 2011

Israel Rabbinate OKs Pork-Flavored Goose Liver


Israel's Ynet News, the online version of the newspaper Yediot Acharonot, reported this week that Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has announced the discovery of a special species of goose which tastes exactly like pork.

Writing for Yediot Acharonot, Meir Turgeman reported:
"We are looking into the possibility of industrial imports of goose," the rabbi said during a culinary conference at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, tantalizing the taste buds of every kashrut observer in Israel.

The move presents a real culinary and halachic revolution, as it offers a solution allowing religious and traditional Jews to discover the taste of pork, which is forbidden according to Jewish dietary laws.

It turns out that farmers in Spain recently decided to breed geese in non-industrialized pasture lands. As opposed to the modern methods, they didn't fatten the geese, but gave them natural food. 

When the farmers tasted the first chunk of goose liver, they were amazed. "It tastes like pork," they cried out.

They decided to share the sensational discovery with the chosen people, and sent a halachic query to Chief Rabbi Metzger. The latter demanded a second opinion, and asked that the goose liver be sent to three non-Jewish professional chefs in Europe, who are very familiar with the taste of pork. The three chefs confirmed the discovery of a "rare culinary duplicate".
Rabbi Metzger struggled with the problem and finally gave his answer: The meat is completely kosher. His ruling was based on a citation from the Talmud, which states that for every prohibition God imposed on the people of Israel – he created a kosher substitute with the exact same taste.
So how close are we to a pork-flavored Shabbat meal? Metzger tried to lower expectations on Tuesday, saying that the geese were still young and that the import of the mean is still being examined.
"We plan to approve the move and help it happen," the rabbi told Yedioth Achronoth. "It could serve as an original Jewish solution for consumers of non-kosher meat, who will be receiving a proper substitute. As for religious Jews, I believe they will be disgusted at first, but will eventually get used to it."    

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reuniting the Rubins, a Comedy from the UK, Opens at Washington Jewish Film Festival December 1


Reuniting the Rubins, a comedy from the UK, is the only full-length comedy among more than forty films included in the Washington Film Festival, which opens in the nation's capital on December 1, running through December 11.

Here's a synopsis: Lenny Rubins, (Timothy Spall) an up-tight lawyer, has to put his dream retirement on hold when his ailing mother (Honor Blackman) emotionally blackmails him into reuniting his estranged children for a Jewish holiday.

They may be peas from the same pod, but in Lenny's eyes his grown up children are certainly not from the same planet: a survival-of-the-fittest hard-nosed capitalist (James Callis), an outspoken eco-warrior committed to the cause (Rhona Mitra); an outer worldly Buddhist Monk; and to cap it all a bible bashing born-again Rabbi!

They might not see eye to eye, quarrel, fight, but they are still family and it is going to take a whole lot of soul searching and sacrifice for all involved to come together in this heart warming, family comedy that will have you thinking of your own family with a smile.

Keep an eye out for this film as it makes its way through Jewish film festivals around the country, and eventually gets released as a DVD and becomes available on Netflix. In the meantime, check out the trailer. Enjoy!

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" Movement Leads to New Call: "Occupy Shabbat!"


Much has been written over the last few months about the various groups participating in the takeover of Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, their different agendas, and their styles of protesting whatever it is they are protesting.

It was inevitable that spoof protests would arise for still other agendas, using the methods employed by the original protesters. One of the funnier spoofs was "Occupy Sesame Street."

The latest of these occupy takeoffs is "Occupy Shabbat." In the video below from Shabbat.com, you'll see a mob of angry people insisting on more Shabbat observance, shouting and carrying signs that say "We want Shabbat," "We want Challah," "We want Cholent," and "We want no work on Shabbat."

Enjoy, and have a Shabbat Shalom.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

"A Matter of Size," Israeli Sumo Wrestling Comedy, Available on DVD Dec. 6


The hilarious film about Sumo wrestlers in Israel, A Matter of Size, after making its way across the USA at film festivals, is finally being released as a DVD on December 6. 

The film tells the story of four overweight friends from the Israeli city of Ramle who are fed up of dieting and the weight loss club they belong to. Herzl (Itzik Cohen) has been struggling with his weight ever since he was young, and his overbearing mother made it no easier on him. When he loses his job as a cook and starts washing dishes in a Japanese restaurant, Herzl discovers the world of Sumo, where large people such as himself are honored and appreciated.

Through the restaurant owner Kitano (Togo Igawa), a former Japanese Sumo coach (supposedly hiding from the Yakuza in Israel), Herzl and his friends fall in love with a sport involving "two fatsos in diapers and girly hairdos". However, Herzl's dedication to this demanding men-only sport threatens his budding relationship with Zehava, a plus-size social worker. A Matter of Size is a comedy about a 'coming out' of a different kind - overweight people learning to accept themselves.

This film, directed by Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor, won three Israeli Academy Awards, as well as Audience Awards at the Washington Jewish Film Festival, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

A Matter of Size conveys a powerful message of acceptance and inner beauty, but does so in a hilarious, light-hearted manner. The movie is peppered with dry Israeli humor, musical montages, and loveable characters that audiences will be rooting for from beginning to end! A Matter of Size has something for everyone- competitive sports, laugh out loud dialogue, romance, a positive message and optimistic outlook. Nobody will want to sit out on this massively appealing comedy! In Hebrew with English subtitles, A Matter of Size runs 90 minutes and is unrated.

For our readers who don't live in the cities where the film was shown last year and this year, here's an opportunity to see it. Netflix will be carrying the DVD, and it will be available for purchase at Deep Discount DVD with free shipping and at Amazon.com.

This film would make a nice Chanukah gift for anyone who appreciates funny films from Israel.

Here's the official USA trailer. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: A Hava Nagila Encore From Korea


In October we posted a performance of Hevenu Shalom Aleichem by the Busan Harmony Choir of South Korea. That post received more "like" comments than any other this year. With so many readers asking for more, we're bringing them back for an encore, this time singing Hava Nagila.

Since the first post we received a comment from Y. S. Chang, chief of the choir, and we'd like to share it with you. Here's what he wrote:
What a surprise!! It is our pleasure to have one of our concert songs posted in this blog. I'm Y.S.Chang, Chief of Busan Harmony Choir.(www.bsharmony.com) We are an amateur choir in Busan, South Korea that includes  teachers, doctors, professors, businessmen, salarymen, housekeepers, and students. The concert was held on June 25 as our 8th regular concert in the 60th year since the Korean War. The theme of the concert was 'PEACE'. By reading this blog, I learned about Jewish history in Korea.
As you may know, Korean history shares some similarity with Jewish history. A lot of countries invaded Korea continuously for more than 1,000 years.  Many Korean (Chosun Dynasty) young men and women were dragged to China (Qing Dynasty) 450 years ago after the war with Qing (China). Also, Japan invaded Korea many times. Finally, the Korean War broke out in 1950 and separated South and North Korea. Because of the Korean War, a lot of people died and their families were broken up.
Now, Koreans know the value of 'Peace' as much as Jews. So, I think both peoples have a common understanding of 'Peace'. When we sing 'Hevenu Shalom Aleichem', we feel the Jewish wish for peace.
Anyway, it is a good opportunity for me to understand more about Jews, and thanks for your posting our concert.
Now, sit back and enjoy the Busan Harmony Choir in a concert performance of Hava Nagila.

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Laughing Clubs Around the World Offer Laughter as Alternative Medicine


It's been often said that laughter is the best medicine, and many studies have validated the theory that real physical and emotional benefits can result when sharing a good laugh.

This month, the Jewish Community Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania is testing this theory. The Laughing Club at the JCC, one of 2,500 laughing clubs around the world, held a meeting on November 9 featuring Scott Bruce, a comedian from the nearby town of Drums. Bruce, who has been doing comedy for 31 years, went around the room and connected with everyone by asking their name and profession before retirement, then told a joke or a string of jokes.

Sara Mayers, who organizes the Laughing Club, was inspired to do so because of a book she read: A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink. The book makes the case that the future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic "right-brain" thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn't. 

Here's a video of comedian Bruce in action at a session of the Laughing Club. Enjoy! 

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Israeli Singer Moti Giladi Performs Sinatra's "My Way" His Way - In Yiddish


We always find it enjoyable to watch Yiddish translations of popular music, whether pop songs or Gilbert and Sullivan operas. We're particularly fond of the Yiddish versions of The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance.

So when we saw a new YouTube posting of a Yiddish version of Frank Sinatra's My Way, we thought of sharing it with you. This version was sung by Israeli singer Moti Giladi at a Jewish Music Festival in Warsaw in 2007. 

Singing to a full house in a large auditorium, Giladi gives a strong performance of the classic ballad in Yiddish translation. So how do you translate the title? At first hearing, we thought it was "My Vei." But after a few replays, we're pretty sure it's "Mein Veg." Enjoy!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Woody Allen Documentary Airs Tonight and Tomorrow on PBS


Woody Allen, love him or hate him, has been an undeniable force for comedy for the last five decades. Tonight and tomorrow night at 9 pm, PBS stations will be running a new three and a half hour documentary about this master of comedy. 


For the first time, Allen allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera by Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert Weide, who followed the notoriously private film legend for over a year and a half to create the ultimate film biography. 

Beginning with Allen’s childhood and his first professional gigs as a teen — furnishing jokes for comics and publicists — American Masters – Woody Allen: A Documentary chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen’s career: from his work in the 1950s-60s as a TV scribe for Sid Caesar, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. 

Weide covers Allen’s earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death; frequent Oscar favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and this year’s box office smash Midnight in Paris.


Exploring the ultimate “independent filmmaker’s” writing habits, casting, directing, and relationship with his actors, Weide traveled with Allen from the London set of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger — a major coup “considering Woody has never allowed so much as an EPK [Electronic Press Kit] crew on his sets,” claims Weide — to the Cannes premiere of Midnight in Paris this May. He also filmed Allen at home, in the editing room and touring his childhood haunts in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. 

New interviews provide insight and backstory: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest, and Owen Wilson; writing collaborators Marshall Brickman, Mickey Rose and Doug McGrath; cinematographers Gordon Willis and Vilmos Zsigmond; Allen’s sister Letty Aronson; longtime manager Jack Rollins; casting director Juliet Taylor; pals Dick Cavett and Martin Scorsese; and others.

So set your TIVOs and DVRs, and enjoy the ride. Here's a trailer for the film, followed by an excerpt about Allen's early skit writing experiences in 1956 at the Tamiment resort in the Poconos. 

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Eldridge Street Synagogue Re-enacts Founding 125 Years Ago


Last Sunday, visitors to the Eldridge Street Synagogue on New York City's Lower East Side, were transported to the year 1886 to witness a re-enactment of the laying of the cornerstone of the oldest synagogue established in America by Eastern European Jews.

The event featured klezmer music and an actor from the Folksbiene Theater dressed in period costume portraying the founding president of the shul.

Writing in The Forward, Gianna Palmer reported:
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin paid tribute to a group of dedicated people who obsessively pursued the extensive renovation of the synagogue, which was completed in 2007.
“What can I say?” Telushkin said. “Thank God for meshuggeners.”
The day’s celebration, which was co-sponsored by the National Yiddish Theatre — Folksbiene, kicked off with a performance by Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars. The five musicians walked slowly through the striking main floor of the sanctuary, with its 50-foot vaulted ceiling, handsome wood fixtures and stained-glass windows. Once they passed the synagogue benches crowded with people, the band members made their way to the bimah and performed to the rhythmic claps of the enthusiastic audience.
Michael Weinstein, chairman of the Museum at Eldridge Street, gave the first of several speeches, thanking those who had given their time and money to the museum over the years. He recalled how far the synagogue had come since he first visited it, 22 years ago. “The building was in great disrepair, but had this power about it that emanated through the walls,” he said.
In a short documentary about the building, historian Roberta Brandes Gratz, who spearheaded the efforts to save the synagogue, also recalled her first time inside the then dilapidated synagogue sanctuary. “As we walked in, the pigeons just flew out from everywhere,” she said.
The synagogue had declined over several decades, due to a combination of the immigration quota laws in the 1920s, the Great Depression and a shrinking Jewish population on the Lower East Side. The renovation of the synagogue took 20 years and cost $18.5 million.
Here's a video showing highlights of the day's activities. Enjoy!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Muslim Walk Onto a College Campus


A couple of years ago we wrote about Rabbi and stand-up comic Bob Alper and the Laugh in Peace tour that he has been taking to colleges all over the U.S. and Canada together with Muslim stand-up comic Azhar Usman. Now they've been joined by Susan Sparks, Senior Pastor of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City and also a stand-up comedian.

A camera crew from the CBS Early Show caught up with them this week at one of their performances at the University of Tennessee and profiled them on morning TV. Here's the interview that was shown, letting each of the three comics tell their own story. (There's a 30 second commercial before the video starts.)

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Michael Jackson's "Beat It" Flash Mob Erupts in Jerusalem Bus Station


Our regular readers know that we're fans of flash mobs, especially when they take place in Israel or involve Jewish themes. 

In the last two years we've run videos of a Purim flash mob in Russia, a Chanukah flash mob in Jerusalem, a "flesh mob" on the beach at Rishon LeZion, an outbreak of dancing at a Haifa mall, and a spontaneous operatic performance at the Dizengoff mall in Tel Aviv.

Last Sunday it was Jerusalem's turn again as its Central Bus Station was the scene of a flash mob with dozens of women and a few men falling into line to perform a line dance to Michael Jackson's hit song Beat It.

What was the "it" they were trying to beat? Diabetes.

The flash mob was organized in conjunction with an international effort for World Diabetes Day, which saw identical dances in cities across the globe. Some of the dancers were  professionals and some not, but they all put in time rehearsing the performance before going "on stage" in the middle of the food court at the bus station.  Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

YU Museum Exhibit Tells Story of Jews in America With Kitschy Music and Old Album Covers


What do Bagels and Bongos, Israeli Disco Fever, and When You're in Love the Whole World is Jewish have in common? They are just a few of the vintage record titles featured in an exhibition currently running at the Yeshiva University Museum on 16th Street in Manhattan, now through January 8, 2012.

The exhibit is based on the book And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost by Roger Bennett and Josh Kun. What started out as a mutual affinity for kitschy Jewish album covers soon became a quest for identity, history, and culture between the grooves of LPs. Pieced together, these scratched, once-loved and now-forgotten audio gems tell a vibrant tale: the story of Jews in America.
 
The exhibition features a soundtrack of highlights from these LPs to provide opportunities for museum visitors to experience forgotten moments in Jewish American pop history. Much of the music is no longer available in any format and through this exhibition, audiences will have the unprecedented opportunity to explore new perspectives on Jewish identity and history through this exciting aspect of Jewish culture.

It was a time when popular non-Jewish singers were developing an affinity for all things Jewish. Here's an example: Louis Prima singing The Darktown Strutters Ball in Yiddish as well as in Italian:

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)


Here's one of our all-time favorite skits from the Whole World is Jewish predecessor album, You Don't Have to be Jewish. There's no video, just audio, so ignore the black box on the screen and just enjoy the audio. It's called A Call From Long Island. It's performed by veteran comics and character actors Betty Walker and Arlene Golonka. Enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The True Story of Carmen: A Klezmer Parody


Big Galute is a klezmer band, but it's more than a klezmer band.

Big Galute roams the entire vast and exciting musical world of klezmer music, Yiddish theater music, Sephardic music from Spain, Levantine music from the eastern Mediterranean, and the works of Jewish classical music composers. 

They are five musicians with backgrounds in klezmer music, classical music, jazz and blues, early music. They sing, play the clarinet, and the violin and viola, and instruments of the lute and guitar families, accordion, percussion, and bass.

And they also tell jokes and perform original comic songs and parodies. Today we'll share one of their parodies of the opera Carmen. Georges Bizet's opera takes place in Spain, but the Big Galute troupe has inside information to prove that the original location was really a shtetl, and how Carmen ended up in Spain is another story.

As the troupe performs their version of the Habanera, we learn that
That's right folks, Carmen was from the shtetl.
A shayne maydel who wouldn't settle.
Not any Tevye or Dov or Hershel would do for her.
She was too commercial.

We hope you enjoy the parody.

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Papua New Guinea Natives Sing Sh'ma Yisrael


While these are not exactly Jewish tribesmen singing Sh'ma Yisrael in Hebrew in Papua New Guinea (they're tribesmen taught by Christian missionaries), we thought this video would be an interesting addition to our collection of Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places.

Papua New Guinea has been associated with mudmen, cannibals, and headhunters for many years, but we understand that these practices have been practically eliminated there. Still, a large majority of the residents are illiterate.

A Jewish convert to Christianity evidently remembered the words and melody of Sh'ma Yisrael and the sentence Baruch Shem K'vod Malchuto L'olam Va'ed and taught them to the members of this picturesque group, who repeated them with relish. Enjoy!


(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

(A tip of the kippah to Aliza Kwiat for bringing this video to our attention)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Philosophy Professor Tries to Get to the Root of Jewish Humor


"I think deep down, every good comedian is Jewish." That's the opinion of Peter Kreeft, a professor of philosophy at Boston College, who is not Jewish and who is not a humorist. In fact, most of his writings and lectures are about various aspects of Christianity. But he gets Jewish humor, and recently gave a talk on its unique characteristics, citing some examples. 

In the video below he discusses irony and Socratic questioning in Jewish humor. All the comics shown in the video had Jewish upbringings.

One characteristic of Jewish humor which Kreeft doesn't cite, but which we will, is that it's very likely you've heard these jokes before. But we regard them as special treasures, to be listened to again and again, producing smiles with each telling. Here's one example:

Q: Why does a Jew always answer a question with another question?
A: Why shouldn't a Jew answer a question with a question?

We hope you'll enjoy the analysis and the jokes. Shabbat Shalom.

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Israel Off the Beaten Track: Puppet Paradise in Holon


Continuing our series of unusual and unexpected places and activities in Israel, today we visit the Israel Puppet Center in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv.The 14th annual International Puppet Theater & Film Festival recently took place there.

Holon, a child-friendly suburb of Tel Aviv, is one of Israel's puppetry hubs. Each year since 1997, the Israel Puppet Center there presents the Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival. The festival showcases workshops and shows for children and adults.

"Our festival offers something for everybody. So that means, for children and for adults," says Ilan Savir, artistic and general director of the center and the festival for the past eight years. The Holon facility also houses a puppetry school and a museum.

This year, in addition to Israeli groups, the festival included performances by the Figura Puppet Theater from Iceland and the Happy Puppetry Company from Taiwan.

Join us in a visit to the Israel Puppet Center with one click below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

EXCLUSIVE On-Site Report! Best In Show New Products From Kosherfest 2011


A vodka named Moses, challah in 37 flavors including Maple, Chocolate, Cookie Dough and Rocky Road, herbal products named Elokim, sparkling water in Cinnamon Orange Peel and Lemongrass Mint Vanilla flavors, jams in Passionfruit Champagne and Fig Cabernet flavors, and mints named for a New York City rabbi.

These are some of the prize winning and unusual products on display yesterday and today for the thousands of visitors representing all aspects of the food industry at Kosherfest 2011 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.

More than 260 exhibitors lining both sides of seven aisles are vying  for the attention of visitors (trade only -- but some kiddush aficionados seem to have found their way into the hall) who try to manage noshing and stuffing literature into the bags provided by some vendors.  And there's plenty to nosh and to stuff.  

Some of the samples are meat, some are dairy, and some are pareve.  But all three types are scattered around the show floor, so anyone trying to keep kosher has to make careful choices.

The vendors are hoping that visitors will make bulk purchases, and some of the newer, smaller, and foreign companies exhibiting for the first time are hoping to find distributors who will bring their wares to your local supermarket.

If you love kiddush, can make a case for being in some kind of food-related business, have a few hours to spare and don't mind walking half a mile to a parking lot, this is the place for you.  It's still open all day today, Wednesday, from 10 am to 4 pm.  The on-site registration fee is $60.

We interviewed a few of the exhibitors and got closeups of some of the more unusual delicacies in this video for you to savor.  Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Israel Pioneers in Adding Clowning as a New Medical Specialty


There was a medical convention in Jerusalem last week, attracting specialists from France, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the United States, and all over Israel. But the hundreds of specialists were not neurologists, cardiologists, internists, or orthopedists. 

They were all specialists in Medical Clowning, a new paramedical profession that was pioneered ten years ago by Yaacov Shriqui as the Dream Doctors Project, Israel's first Medical Clowning Program.

Medical clowning, which combines theater performance with drama therapy and elements of nursing, has grown in popularity in recent years to become a worldwide phenomenon. The project now supports 90 clown doctors in 22 hospitals across Israel, serving over 176,000 children each year. 

As Ben Kaplan wrote in yesterday's issue of Haaretz,
The Dream Doctors are professional theater artists, with years of performing experience in Israel and around the world, who have combined their talents with rigorous medical training. Haifa’s academic program in medical clowning, founded by Professor Atay Citron in 2006, merges courses in improvisation and physical theater with principles from psychology and medicine.
“I’m interested in theater that changes reality, that heals individuals, communities,” says Citron. “Theater not as a reflection on reality, not as pure entertainment, but a proactive tool—something that works.”
“It’s a beautiful marriage of science and art,” says Caroline Simonds, director of Le Rire Médecin, a medical clowning organization in France. “We’re the Lucille Balls of the hospital.”
The conference focused on ‘evidence-based research,' as doctors lectured on how the clowns reduce anxiety in patients and assist with a range of procedures. A routine procedure such as giving stitches, for example, has become virtually painless thanks to a topical anesthetic called EMLA, but a terrified child who kicks and screams can challenge even the most skilled physician. The clown, by relaxing and distracting the child, not only makes the experience—as well as the memory of it—better for the patient, but also allows the doctor to do a better job.
In situations that can be stressful and uncomfortable for patients, families, and staff, the clowns provide much needed relief. They empower patients with imaginative tools that transform the hospital reality, making everyday procedures that are painful or embarrassing an opportunity to laugh and celebrate. Where patients may feel abnormal, it is only the clown, bizarre and unafraid to speak his or her mind, who can restore a sense of normality and sanity.
“It’s a great mitzvah,” Shriqui says. “To make people happy, to make them laugh.” 
To get a closer look of the medical clowns of the Dream Doctors Project, check out the video below that shows these welcome additions to the hospital scene in action. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yidden, Popular Wedding Song and Dance, Was Originally a German Song About Genghis Khan


One of the most frequently played songs at Jewish weddings for the last few decades has been Yidden Yidden, Kumt Aheim, the fervent dance introduced by Mordechai Werdyger (professionally known as Mordechai Ben David, or MBD) in 1986. 

Everybody assumes that it's a Jewish song. But like Hatikva (adapted from an Italian madrigal) and some other popular Jewish songs, it has its origins in a country and culture that is in no way Jewish.

The reality is that the music that we recognize as Yidden first appeared at the Eurovision song competition in 1979, the year that saw Israel win first place for the song Hallelujah by the group called Milk and Honey. 

That year, Germany entered the competition with a song praising the strength and sexual prowess of Genghis Khan, the 13th century Mongol conqueror. The song is titled Dschinghis Khan, by a band of the same name.

Here are some of the translated lyrics:
He was the greatest lover and the strongest man of his day
And we have heard that all the women fell for him, so they say.
And he bred seven children in one long night
He had his girls around him in his very sight
And nothing that could stop him in this world.
Geng-Geng-Genghis Khan, etc. 

Here's the video, sung in the original German. 

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)



Here's the same song, now in Yiddish, sung at a Chabad telethon by MBD, often referred to in Orthodox and Chassidic circles as the King of Jewish Music.

 

OK, since we mentioned Hallelujah, we'll give you a bonus for the sake of nostalgia and include a video of the winning song. Enjoy!


(A tip of the kippah to Jack Kustanowitz for bringing this story to our attention.)