Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Israeli Song Contests Feature Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"


Hallelujah, the song Leonard Cohen wrote in 1984, was not a big hit when it was first released. But over the years, it has been the choice of a large number and broad range of artists, who performed cover versions in recordings and in concert. The song has also seen significant use in film and television soundtracks, including Shrek.

In the last two years, it's been the choice of some very talented young singers participating in Israeli television talent shows. 

In 2011, eleven-year-old Shalev Menashe rode it into the finals of the School of Music talent show, singing it in Hebrew.

Earlier this year, Inbal Gershkovitz did the same for another TV talent show, The Voice, singing it in English.

Here are both versions, as performed on TV. 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 Allan Becker for bringing this to our attention.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Vaudeville Classic : Eddie Cantor in "Moe the Tailor" (1929)


Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) had a long career as a comedian, actor, singer, dancer, and songwriter. Born Edward Israel Iskowitz, he got the name Cantor through a misunderstanding when his grandmother Esther Kantrowitz signed her grandson up for school and the clerk shortened the name to Kanter.

In 1917 Cantor signed a long term contract with Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. to appear in the Ziegfeld Follies. He appeared on stage in comedy skits, including one called Moe the Tailor in 1923. This skit was so popular that it was included in a 1929 film about the life of Ziegfeld.

Cantor went on to become the highest paid comedian of the 1930s, making several hit movies for Samuel Goldwyn (Whoopee, Palmy Days, Roman Scandals, The Kid from Spain, Kid Millions, Strike Me Pink) but was primarily a radio comedian. Today he is largely forgotten, but he was one of the biggest names in comedy in his day.

Here's the video clip from the Ziegfeld film showing the complete Moe the Tailor skit. Enjoy!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

A Joke to Start the Week: Lady on the Bus


Here we go again -- another Monday morning, and another joke to start the week. 

This time we tap into Old Jews Telling Jokes for a classic from Al Leiderman, a 95-year-old retiree from the wholesale laundry business telling a joke about a lady who gets on a bus and then...

Enjoy!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Susan Winter: Eight Song Classics in Five Minutes


OK, so they're snippets, not complete songs. But we found Susan Winter's song stylings to be authentic, nostalgic, and just plain entertaining. We hadn't heard of her before, but made our discovery surfing through YouTube, and we're glad we did.

At a concert last year in Queens College called Rise Up Singing, Winter covered a wide range of songs, excerpts of which are included in this promotional video.

In a span of less than five minutes, we see and hear her singing from the best of George Gershwin, Leonard Cohen, Tom Lehrer, Bob Dylan, Jacques Brel, and the genres of Yiddish theater, Russian Gypsy music, and Sesame Street.

Multi-award winning Susan Winter, is a singer’s singer. She has been most recently making a name for herself in the New York cabaret scene, but she has worked in and around New York clubs for many years. This native New Yorker has performed with her trio in intimate jazz spaces and has also sung with big bands, following the charts of the famous 30’s and 40’s singers.

We hope you enjoy the video.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Musical Showcase: Meet Die Drei Dudelim, Klezmer Trio from the Netherlands


Continuing our series of introducing new musical groups, today we're focusing on a talented trio of Klezmer musicians from the Netherlands who call themselves Die Drei Dudelim.

The band Die Drei Dudelim ('the three players of tunes') consists of three good friends who have been playing Klezmer music since 1994. Their music is heavily inspired by the old Eastern European Klezmer tradition, but with a modern 'feel', and it clearly reveals their classical music education. The Dudelim are multi-instrumentalists, playing several guitars, violin, clarinet, and mandolin as well as double bass, but they also distinguish themselves by their excellent vocals. The moods of their songs vary from quiet and melancholic to vibrant, fast, and full of excitement. 

In today's video they play a Yiddish classic, Der Rebbe Elimelech, sort of a Yiddish version of Old King Cole. Just in case you don't know this Yiddish standard, it describes an Eastern European rabbi who has a little too much to drink when Shabbat ends and becomes more and more happy and boisterous as the evening progresses. 

First he takes off his tefillin and puts on his glasses, and calls for two fiddlers. Then he makes Havdalah, calls for the shamash and two cymbal players. Finally he takes off his hat and puts on his kittel and calls for two drummers. The music reaches a crescendo when the fiddlers drum, the drummers play the cymbals, and the cymbal players fiddle (or some such combination -- you get the idea.) 

Enjoy!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bei Mir Bist du Schein is Back -- Bigger Than Ever


Last year we did a long post about the Yiddish song Bei Mir Bist Du Schein. It was composed by Sholom Secunda and Jacob Jacobs as a love song for a Yiddish show in 1932, but really got started as an act at Grossinger's Hotel by two black singers, Johnnie and George, who brought it to the Apollo Theater in Harlem where it was heard by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin, who bought the rights to the song for $30.

We went on about how it became a massive hit and was covered all over the world, even ending up as a kiddie song called "The Bear Missed the Train." 

What we didn't know then was how popular the song was becoming in Europe. It went viral among fans last winter as a dance track because of a new video featuring Azerbaijani singer Ilhama Gasimova.

It has a vibe reminiscent of the song "We No Speak Americano." The sound is very different from the original recorded by The Andrews Sisters in 1938. The black-and-white music video has a retro feel, incorporating some hilarious footage of old Laurel and Hardy silent movies. Go figure.

In June the video won the Best Music Video award at the Eldani Music and Media Awards in Berlin.

We found it infectious, and begging to be played again. We hope you'll like it, too. Enjoy! 

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  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.)




If you want to see how they made the video, here is a behind the scenes look and an interview with Ilhama.



(A tip of the kippah to Elliot Greene for bringing this video to our attention.) 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Israeli Dance Flourishes With a Mexican Twist


In 1971, Carlos Halpert organized a group of young Mexican artists, creating an interdisciplinary, traditional Jewish dance group called Anajnu Veatem (Anachnu v'Atem - We and You.)

The group integrates Israeli and Mexican music and dance, linking traditional folklore and contemporary Jewish and Mexican themes.

They have toured almost all the states in the Mexican Republic and some cities in other countries, performing in theaters, open air stages, festivals, concerts in cultural institutions, universities, public plazas, social centers, and regional fairs.

Anajnu v'Atem have performed their signature piece, Un Poco de lo Nuestro, in many venues, including Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts.  It's a beautiful blend of Mexican and Israeli musical and dance styles, a melange of Tzena Tzena, Hava Nagila, BaShana HaBa'ah, Dovid Melech Yisrael, and Hevenu Shalom Aleichem. We consider it nine minutes well spent and hope you will agree. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  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 Linda Englander for bringing this video to our attention.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Memories are Made of This: A Short Film Built Around a Joke


It's not often that we find an elaborately produced film that was created for the sole purpose of delivering a punch line. In three years of blogging we have only found one, The Tailor, and it's one of the three most viewed posts on Jewish Humor Central.

Today we found another one. Do you know the old joke with a punch line that involves a rose? We won't go any further to spoil the joke just in case you don't know it. But here's the film, made by Australian producer Robert Teicher. It's called Memories are Made of This.

Let's set the scene: An elderly Jewish man is having some memory problems. First he gets confused when buying a treat for his wife, who is reading in bed what seems to be a chumash or a siddur. Then he mixes up the chess pieces in a game with a friend. Then he has a problem remembering the name of a tablet prescribed by his doctor. Then...the punch line we have been waiting for.  Enjoy!

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Monday, October 22, 2012

A Joke to Start the Week: A Jew Rides Shotgun


Another Monday, another joke to start the week. Once again we tap into the treasure trove known as Old Jews Telling Jokes for a classic tale.

Today the stand-up spotlight is on 67-year-old Mike Leiderman, sportscaster and producer. Here's the setup: It's the old West. Desperadoes commandeer a stagecoach and force an old Jewish man to be a lookout for Indians and ride shotgun. And then...

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Comedy Classics: Clean Stand-Up From Wendy Liebman


Wendy Liebman has been performing stand-up comedy for more than 20 years. We like her style. It's mostly clean and reminds us of Rita Rudner, another of our favorites.

Wendy has been called the master of the one-liner with subliminal afterthought. Her distinctive style includes quick, clever follow-ups after her jokes. She starts the joke leading it to one direction then changes it. As in "This Thanksgiving I made a 28 pound turkey ... pot pie," or "I really like to shop....lift."

She has appeared at comedy clubs and most of the late night TV shows. According to her website, she counts among her accomplishments the American Comedy Award for Best Female Standup in 1996, and clue #23 down in a New York Magazine crossword puzzle in 2010.

Here's Wendy performing on Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show in December 2010. Enjoy!

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Comedy Showcase: Meet Eli Lebowicz, Standup Comic


Whenever we discover comedy clips from a comedian we haven't seen before, we like to profile the comedian for our readers to meet. Today we ran across some videos of stand-up comedy by Eli Lebowicz at Standup NY, an Upper West Side comedy club in New York City.

Eli Lebowicz is a senior in at Yeshiva University, where he co-founded its first satire magazine, The Quipster. He is originally from Chicago and has been doing comedy for about a year and a half. He has performed all around New York City, at clubs like Standup NY, Comix, and Caroline's. 

Eli has many clips of his comedy routines on YouTube. He jokes that most of the views come from his dad trying to figure out how to use YouTube.

Here is Eli's family-friendly routine that we'd like to share with you. Enjoy!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Musical Showcase: Nachas - From Wedding Simchas to Patriotic Country Music


Back in August we started a series profiling up-and-coming musicians and singers who focus on Jewish music in all of its forms. Today we're highlighting Nachas Baldinger, a wedding singer who goes by his first name, Nachas, whose claim to fame was his appearance in the Jewish Star singing competition.

Nachas has shown a wide range of musical talent, singing in Hebrew, Yeshivish, and English. He is offering a free download of his debut song, Nachas, from http://nachasmusic.com/NACHAS_the_Single.mp3.

But what we found most interesting about Baldinger was the ease with which he drops the Yeshivish accent and transitions to a country music genre, as exemplified by his cover of the patriotic song God Bless the USA originated by Lee Greenwood. 

Here are two videos, the first a look behind the scenes as he gets ready to sing HaTov v'Hameitiv, and the second a rousing rendition of God Bless the USA.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Camp Morasha Flash Mob Takes Over Syracuse Mall


If you've been following this blog, you're probably aware that we're suckers for flash mobs, especially when they have a Jewish or Israeli connection. Here's a recent one that should bring a little Yiddishe nachas. 

A few hundred boys and girls, campers at Camp Morasha, took over the Destiny USA (formerly Carousel) Mall in Syracuse, New York this summer to put on a choreographed dance extravaganza called Anu B'nei Morasha that proclaimed who they are and what they do. 

Morasha is a Modern Orthodox co-ed camp based in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, with over a thousand campers attending each summer. It runs a Morasha Yachad program that gives more than 40 disabled campers an inclusive camping experience together with their mainstream peers.

Some wearing shorts and T-shirts, others wearing pants and skirts, the dancers blend together into a single entity, but if you look closely you'll see an invisible line dividing the boys and girls.

About 3 and a half minutes into the video, the solid mass splits into two sections, revealing an aisle through which some campers with developmental disabilities, including two in wheelchairs, and their counselors march forward as the dance continues to its conclusion. 

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Making Challah in the Moroccan Mellah


In Morocco, the old Jewish Quarter is called the Mellah (Yes, the name derives from the Hebrew word for salt. How it got the name is very interesting and you'll have to read about it here.) The art of braiding and baking challah is still very much alive there. 

This short video shows the rolling, braiding and shaping of traditional Jewish Challah bread to the accompaniment of some lively Moroccan music. Its preparation is one of the classes offered in the Moroccan hotels that are part of the Sans Souci Collection. Now, if only they included the recipe for the dough which seems unusually pliable and easy to work with.

This was filmed in the old Jewish neighbourhood of Marrakech, where today there are only a few families that still live and preserve these traditions. Enjoy!

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Monday, October 15, 2012

A Joke to Start the Week: "My Wife is Poisoning Me"


It's Monday morning and time to start the work week with another joke from the files of Old Jews Telling Jokes.

Today's joke teller is 82-year-old Sylvie Drake. Sylvie was chief theater critic at the Los Angeles Times from 1991 through 1993. She served on the 1994 Pulitzer Prize Drama Jury, was a personal interpreter for playwright Eugene Ionesco in the 1980s, served as president of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and on the Executive Committee of the American Theatre Critics Association.

We expect some groans after she tells the joke. Yes, we know you've heard it before, and yes, we know you know how to tell it better. But isn't that the case with all old Jewish jokes? Enjoy!

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Hava Nagila in a Greek Taverna


During the last three years we have been following the popularity of Hava Nagila as it made its way all over the world. If you scroll down the Labels section of this blog in the left column, you'll see 22 posts involving what's arguably the most popular Jewish song on earth. But until now we haven't found a video of it being performed in Greece.

Karpathos is the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. From its remote location Karpathos has preserved many peculiarities of dress, customs and dialect, the last resembling those of Crete and Cyprus.

Karpathos is known for its tavernas, restaurants where music and dancing prevails, usually Greek songs. But last week, our old favorite found its way into a taverna called Pelagos, where the patrons eagerly adopted it as a Greek dance, singing the Hebrew words to the sounds of guitar and bouzouki music. Opa! 

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Comedy Showcase: Meet Chasidic Comedian Hilly Hill


Just because Chasidic clothing tends to be black and otherwise colorless doesn't necessarily mean that every one who wears it is colorless. The Chasidic world has produced its own share of comedy and comedians who can keep their community and the larger Jewish community laughing out loud.

Much of the comedy takes place on the holiday of Purim and at weddings, where the badchan, a sort of jester, is responsible for entertaining the bride and groom and their guests with funny songs and rhymes, mostly in Yiddish.

We have profiled Chasidic comedians such as Yisrael Campbell and Mendy Pellin in previous blog posts. Today we're sharing a video clip of comedian Hilly Hill at a Melave Malke Shabbaton in Parsippany, New Jersey, a few years ago.

Hilly is the son of Skverer Chasid and former actor Steven Hill, who was a featured actor on Mission Impossible and Law and Order. In this video, he jokes about airline security, Haredi websites, the need for a Chassidishe radio station, and radio announcers who report play-by-play of a rebbe cutting the challah or holding a sefer Torah in the style of reporting a baseball game. He also reflects on how different our cuisine would be if Chassidus had been invented in America instead of Eastern Europe and conducts a simulated texting session with God.

LOL!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Free Yenta iPhone App Finds Jewish Dates by Location


There's a new entry in the Jewish matchmaking business. It's Yenta, a free app for users of the iPhone by Findr Interactive. What makes it different from JDate and its competitors is its location-based technology.

As the website of its developer says, Yenta is a free location based mobile phone application that connects Jewish singles with other singles near them! It’s serendipity at its best, whether at school, work or a local hangout. You can instantly see who is Jewish, single and wants to meet near you. And when you change your location, a new set of singles appears based on their proximity to you so never miss a potential match!

Yenta is available for use on all iPhone models and iPads. It's downloadable from iTunes.

In this video, New York Post reporter Tara Palmeri demonstrates the use of the Yenta app as she finds a potential Jewish date on the streets of New York.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Post-Holidays Joke: A Mother's Prayer


Can you believe that the Jewish holidays are over? No more holiday music videos or humor until Chanukah (only two months away). So it's back to our general humor collection. We've been starting each work week with a joke. Today feels like it's a back to work Monday, so let's open with another family-friendly classic from the Old Jews Telling Jokes collection.

Joyce Concors, an 87-year-old shopping center owner, takes to the stage to tell a joke about a grandmother who is babysitting for her 6-year-old grandson. She gives him dinner, a bath, and now it's bedtime and time for the evening prayer. Enjoy!

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Friday, October 5, 2012

The Yiddish Chefs Are Back With a Chicken Dinner for Simchat Torah


Once again Rukhl Schaecter and Eve Yochnowitz, the Forward's Yiddish chefs, are back with a pair of recipes that may be just right for the last two days (one day in Israel) of the Sukkot holiday, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Or you can make them for a Shabbat meal or any other occasion.

Today's dishes are a traditional French-style roast chicken and a Sephardic rice pilaf with noodles, all easy to prepare as shown in the video. We even get a few bonuses -- a Yiddish commercial for Empire's microwaveable ready to roast garlic and herb chicken, and some lively klezmer music in the background.

As always with these segments of "Est Gezunterheit" we get a few new juicy Yiddish words to add to our vocabulary. Today's words are:

Small chicken: Hindel (although the chefs joke that "tshikn" sounds like a Yiddish word)
Roast chicken: Gebrutene hin
Side dish: By-gericht
Rinsing: Oopvashen, or shvenken
Kitchen shears: Koch sher
Plastic: Plastic
Stuffing the chicken: Oonshtuppen dos hindle
Vegetable spray: Shpritz boimel
Piercing: Oonshtechen

Whether or not you use these recipes, we wish you a Chag Sameach. We'll be celebrating Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah back home in the USA, and we'll resume posting next Wednesday.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sukkot in Jerusalem: Street Fair Lights Up the Night With Fun and Food


During the intermediate days of Sukkot, Jerusalem really knows how to celebrate. With the children home from school until after the seven day holiday, those who have not taken off for resort areas like the Dead Sea and the Galilee have the city to themselves, and they really know how to utilize it.

The days are filled with activities for children of all ages. With seven-year-old and four-year-old grandsons in tow, we spent two days exploring ancient Israel at two very popular sites, Ein Yael and Neot Kedumim, and ended the adventure with a fun and food-filled street festival in the trendy Jerusalem neighborhoods of Baka and the German Colony.

Ein Yael is a living outdoor 12th century museum where visitors see and take part in archery demonstrations, learn about ancient handicrafts, and actually use them to make their own pottery, mosaics, baskets, and bake their own pita bread. The site houses the remains of a Roman villa in an archaeological complex dating back to the 2nd century.

Neot Kedumim is a biblical landscape reserve located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It's a unique recreation of the physical setting of the Bible, letting visitors to see life as it was lived 3,000 years ago. It's easy to spend a whole day there, and children of all ages spend hours making their own creations from freely available materials including pine cones, carobs, corn kernels, peanuts, feathers, and dozens of other gifts that nature never intended to be turned into unusual sculpture with googly eyes and noses made out of beans.

The street festival, held last night on a major thoroughfare in Jerusalem which was closed to traffic for a half-mile, included wandering minstrels, giant puppets, and rock and reggae bands. There was plenty of food sold from makeshift stands staffed by local restaurants, all kosher of course. Also books, clothing, kitchen gadgets, toys, linens, and lots of other merchandise.

We're including a video from the festival featuring a band called Shivat Tzion. The video is a little blurry and the words may be hard to hear, but we wanted to point out that the words are Kol Mevaser, Mevaser V'Omer, an important part of the liturgy for the upcoming holiday of Hoshana Rabba which occurs this Sunday, just before Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sukkot in Jerusalem: Blessing of the Kohanim Today at the Western Wall


Today is the second day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot in Israel, and it's the traditional day for thousands to gather in front of the Western Wall for the blessing of the Kohanim.

We're celebrating Sukkot in Jerusalem this year, but weren't able to get to the Old City this morning in time for the massive gathering. But thanks to the prompt posting by Your Jewish News, we are able to show you the complete series of three blessings only hours after it occurred.

Chag Sameach!

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