Monday, March 31, 2014

A Joke to Start the Week - "Passover Prank"


Another Monday and another Joke to Start the Week. But why is this Monday different from all other Mondays? Because it's just two weeks before Passover, so this week's joke has a Pesach theme.

It's an old joke, like all the others, but this time it's not just told in stand-up style, but acted out by a cast of characters. You've probably heard it before, but just like the off-Broadway Old Jews Telling Jokes show added some extra punch by staging the jokes as skits, so do these four actors bring life to a golden oldie.

Here's the setup: A father calls his daughter who's in the midst of Pesach preparations. She tells him she's so sad that her Mom and Dad can't come to her for Pesach. But boy, does he have surprise news for her. And then...

Enjoy!

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Frozen's "Let It Go" Gets Parodied as "Let Us Go" in a New Passover Video


Blau Bright Productions, the comedy team of Ari Blau and Chris Albright, have produced lots of YouTube videos. Their latest release comes just in time for Passover. In it, the duo portrays Moses and Pharaoh standing off against each other against backgrounds of the Egyptian palace and the pyramids.

It's yet another parody of the Academy Award winning hit song "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen. The title just calls out to be satirized as "Let Us Go," a perfect fit for the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

In this video, Ari is Moses and Chris takes the role of a very stubborn Pharaoh resisting Moses' plea until he is overwhelmed by the Ten Plagues.

Enjoy!


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(A tip of the kippah to Esther Kustanowitz for bringing this video to our attention.)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jerusalem Klezmer Band Welcomes Shabbat at Mamilla Mall


The Jerusalem Klezmer Band was founded by Avrum Leib Burstein in Jerusalem some twenty years ago. This unique group of musicians play original Klezmer songs passed on for generations, from father to son, a combination of Yiddish and Hebrew melodies that originated in Eastern Europe up to 1000 years ago.

Their show is a mesmerizing combination of dance, theater and music which all together tells the story of Hassidic life and culture.

Twice a year, in spring and fall, they go on tour in Europe. The six musicians play clarinet, trumpet, violin, flute, accordion, and drums.

One of the places where they put on a spontaneous performance in Israel is on the steps of the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem, a venue that attracts all types of musicians and dance groups, some of which we have featured here on Jewish Humor Central.

In this video, the Jerusalem Klezmer Band plays a spirited version of Shalom Aleichem, the melody that is sung throughout the world as Shabbat is welcomed on Friday night. Here the group took to the streets of Jerusalem on a Friday afternoon before the onset of Shabbat.

Enjoy, and Shabbat shalom to all!

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Passover is Coming, and so are the Funny Videos, Starting With "Things Women Say on Pesach"


If you've walked down the supermarket aisles in any Jewish community lately, you're already very aware that Passover is just around the corner. Looking at the calendar, we see that it's less than three weeks away.

Pesach time usually brings out the comedic and musical talents of a growing number of video humorists, and we will be combing the Internet for the best and most unusual expressions surrounding this most observed of all Jewish holidays.

Last year a popular video was circulating that depicted funny things that people say on Pesach. For some unexplained reason, there were no women in the video. This year, Orli Katz took note of that absence and wrote, directed, and acted in a new video titled Things Women Say on Pesach

The actors in this video are all female, but there is one man making a cameo appearance. The scene is a seder at the in-laws, with all the tensions evident in such a gathering. The seder is kind of dysfunctional, but we suspect that you'll find a spark of familiarity here and there, based on sedarim that you've participated in over the years. One innovation in the seder that made us chuckle was the addition of a fifth child, the spoiled child, to the familiar wise, wicked, simple children and the child who doesn't know how to ask.

This year, our own seder will be in Jerusalem with children, grandchildren, family, and friends, where we'll also be giving lectures on Jewish humor. Watch for more funny Passover videos in the next few weeks.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Mad Mentsch" - Jewish Parody of TV's "Mad Men" Debuts as an Internet Video Series


Mad Men, the award-winning AMC Cable series about the lives and influence of advertising executives in the 1960s, will enter its seventh and last season on April 13, the Sunday before Passover.  

Mad Mentsch, a parody produced by Jewbellish, a Jewish comedy web site, is a carefully scripted short takeoff of the popular TV series with an attention to detail that includes the opening title sequence.

We don't know if Mad Mentsch will last seven seasons, but they've produced four episodes so far. The main character in this series is Don Dreyfus, a Don Draper look-alike. If you're not a fan of Mad Men, you probably won't get some of the satire, but it might get you to check out the series. It's available on Netflix and probably elsewhere. We're still catching up on the show and are starting to watch Season 5.

Enjoy the first two episodes below.

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Episode 1



Episode 2

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Happy" Song Brings Out the Best of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem


Happy in Tel Aviv
The Jerusalem Post reported last week about the non-profit news and educational organization ISRAEL21c filming its own version of the Pharrell Williams Academy Award-winning song Happy, in the streets of Tel Aviv. 

Their goal was to create a feel good video that would give people abroad a different view of the city.
 
Just over two weeks later, the Grammy-winning artist chose the Tel Aviv adaptation of his hit as one of the best in the world, and invited it to be submitted for use in the UN's second International Day of Happiness. 


Shortly after the release of the Tel Aviv version, producer Molly Livingstone and the students of Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim assembled a cast of happy Jerusalemites including Mayor Nir Barkat, Yisrael Campbell, and Gary Rudoren. 

Happy in Jerusalem
Also cooperating were Shutaf Inclusion Programs in Jerusalem, Burgers Bar Emek Refaim, The Times of Israel, The Israel Tennis Centers-Jerusalem, Cinema City Jerusalem, Shalom Falafel, and The Goldstein Youth Village.

They sang and danced their way around the old and new cities of Jerusalem to the beat of this popular song. While we like the Tel Aviv version, we feel that the Jerusalem version has a more Jewish and Israeli touch.

Which one do you like better? Let us know in the comments below the videos. Here are the two videos. Enjoy!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

A Joke to Start the Week - "The Smoker"


It's the first Monday of Spring and time for another Joke to Start the Week. This week's joke teller is Al Liederman, the 97-year-old who spent more than 50 years in the laundry business and whose jokes from the Old Jews Telling Jokes collection we've been featuring on Jewish Humor Central.

Here's the setup: Moishe dies and leaves Sadie a widow. She has him cremated and puts his ashes in a jar.

A year later, Sam comes over and he wants to marry her. She says "I'll have to ask my husband." And then...

Enjoy!

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Controversial "Noah" Film Starring Russell Crowe Hits Theaters Friday With Disclaimer


When Darren Aronofsky's epic film "Noah" hits U.S. theaters this Friday, it may well be the only movie to use marketing materials that include a carefully worded disclaimer designed to insulate the studio from angry critics.

The blockbuster movie, starring Russell Crowe as Noah and featuring Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connolly, and Emma Watson, has been the subject of threatened boycotts by Christian and Muslim groups. Jewish groups have been largely absent from the vocal critics who have been panning the film during its production and preview screeenings.

Here is Paramount's disclaimer:
"The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis."
Early reviews from the international release are clearly mixed. Here's an excerpt from Eric Kohn's mixed review on InstyWire:
Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel pepper the story with a number of flashier ingredients, some fairly routine and others less so. These include Noah's hulking army of four-armed rock giants, an elaboration on the fallen angels known as Nephilim, who initially resist Noah's cries for help and eventually aid in the construction of the Ark; the screenwriters also give Noah a single antagonist, in the form of the scheming Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone), who manages to wind up as the Ark's sole human stowaway and attempt to surpass even the will of the Creator to restart civilization.
While still sifting through the meaning of his vision, Noah receives advice from his ancient grandfather Methusaleh (Anthony Hopkins, scowling and smirking in a handful of scenes), while keeping his blandly anxious wife (Jennifer Connelly) at bay. The couple's children include the eternally worried Ila (Emma Watson) and Shem (Douglas Booth), who eventually fall into a perilous romance, as well as Ham (Logan Lerman), whose allegiances to his father grow increasingly dubious as the plans for the Ark take shape.
The actual building of the ark for the movie is the subject of a video shown on ABC news. The behind-the-scenes look at its construction on Long Island as Hurricane Sandy raged is shown in the video below, followed by the trailer for the film. Whether or not it comes close to our understanding of the Flood story as we learned it a little more than a few years ago, it's a film that looks to be entertaining enough to warrant seeing on a big screen rather than waiting for the Netflix DVD to arrive months later.

Enjoy!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Ultra Orthodox High School Boasts Chinese Acrobatics and Marching Band


Most students who enroll in Yeshiva high schools where black hats and coats are the daily uniform don't expect much in the way of extra-curricular activities.

But students enrolling in Yeshiva Shaarei Arazim in Monsey, New York, are getting a big surprise when they find Chinese acrobatics and marching bands among the available choices.

As Sandy Eller reported in vosizneias.com,
“We need to give our talmidim an opportunity to shine,” explained Rabbi Zev Freundlich, menahel of Mesivta Shaarei Arazim.  “All children want to look good, they want to feel good.  If we don’t give them a chance to get that geshmak in yeshiva, they will find ways outside of the yeshiva environment to fulfill that need.”

The yeshiva hired Frank Adams, a former Olympic gymnast who is now a Monsey resident, to train the members of the acrobatic troupe.  According to Adams, the three times a week, two hours workouts are extremely aggressive.

“The yeshiva rents out a local gym for the boys but this isn’t a quick gym workout,” explained Adams.  “Most of these boys have no athletic experience other than an informal basketball or softball game and had never done a stretch in their lives.  They do a full cardio warmup and a complete body stretch followed by a thorough gymnastics acrobatic workout but in no way does this ever take away from their learning.  The boys don’t miss night seder, maariv or anything else.  They may not get home till after eleven o’clock at night after a workout but they know they have to be in yeshiva for shachris the next day.”

“These boys have learned skills in becoming men as well as talmidei chochomim,” said Adams.  “They learn about commitment, teamwork and character development.  There is no way to succeed as part of an acrobatic troupe, in the Beis Medrash or in life, without these necessary skills.”

Mesivta Shaarei Arazim is also well known for its marching band, which has performed at countless weddings, dinners and other events for over six years.  The band is taught by one of the secular studies teachers who also runs a professional marching band, and consists of approximately thirty students who perform in full dress uniforms.  For most marching band members, it is the first time they have ever played an instrument.
Below are two videos showing the boys of Mesivta Shaarei Arazim perfoming Chinese acrobatics on Lag B'Omer and playing in a marching band at a local wedding.

Enjoy!

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(A tip of the kippah to Sheila Zucker for bringing this video to our attention.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nice Jewish Guys and Naughty Jewish Boys Get Ready For Battle - in Court


Nice Jewish Guy
Naughty Jewish Boy
It's a battle of the calendars -- Nice Jewish Guys vs. Naughty Jewish Boys.

In October 2010 we reported on a new venture by TV producer Adam Cohen -- the first pin-up calendar of smiling, fully clothed Jewish young men. Cohen called it the Nice Jewish Guys calendar with the tag line "Take them home to Mom." Now in its fifth year, the calendar is selling on the Internet and in specialty stores and has sold more than 10,000 copies.

But anything successful attracts competition, and for Cohen's calendar it came in the form of an alternative version called the Naughty Jewish Boys calendar, conceived by a playwright named Duncan Pflaster. 

While the original calendar shows twelve clean-cut, conservatively dressed Jewish men, the challenger takes an edgier approach. Pflaster said that the Nice Jewish Guys calendar emasculates the guys and that his calendar will "show the sexy side of Judaism."

As CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider reported, 
the founder of the “Nice Jewish Guys” calendar claims the man behind the yet-to-be-released “Naughty Jewish Boys” calendar ripped off his idea.

“Jewish men are worth looking at as sexy men,” Duncan Pflaster of “Naughty Jewish Boys” told Schneider. Pflaster isn’t Jewish, but said he’s on a mission to create a calendar that showcases the sexier side of the Jewish faith.

“When I saw the Nice Jewish Guys calendar that came out a few years ago, I was disappointed that it was more nice guys in sweaters who you could take home to your mom,” said Pflaster. “And not as beefcake as I would’ve expected.”

He’s been working for the past three weeks to photograph shirtless men lighting the menorah and posing with the torah. Pflaster posted an ad for models on Craigslist and said he was blown away by the number of inquiries he received.

“I still am getting lots and lots of applicants who would like to model for this,” he told Schneider. The calendar is still in the works, but the creator of the “Nice Jewish Guys” calendar said he started the original back in 2009 and wants to cut out the copycats.

“I want to protect that. I own that brand, I worked really hard to establish this calendar and establish a huge international audience and I have a right to protect that,” said creator Adam Cohen.
Here's the CBS-TV report on the dispute. Which calendar would you hang on your wall?

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"My Yiddishe Mama" Gets Updated For a Younger Generation


Last fall, cantor and musician Meir Goldberg released a music video of the classic English/Yiddish song, My Yiddishe Mama

But unlike the many covers of this 1920's hit by Yossele Rosenblatt, Sophie Tucker, the Barry Sisters, Leo Fuld, Itzhak Perlman, Tom Jones, Neil Sedaka, Yitzhak Meir Helfgot, and uncounted others, Goldberg's video fuses his traditional interpretation with that of a group of Jewish rappers called Brooklyn Mentality

The combination produces a different, upbeat sound that just might resonate with the younger generation without losing listeners who grew up with the traditional rendition.

As Rukhl Schaechter wrote in The Jewish Daily Forward,
Before Goldberg and his producer, Daniel Finkelman, made the video, they were aware that combining a sentimental Yiddish song with the raw and sharp beat of hip-hop would not go over well with many viewers.
“On the flip side, we also knew that if we went with the old lyrics of ‘Mein Yiddishe Mama’, we would potentially lose the younger generation,” Finkelman said in an interview with the Forverts. As it turned out, it was a risk worth taking. Since the video came out, it was shared multiple times on Facebook to a mostly young audience.
The music video is also remarkable for another reason: both Goldberg and Finkelman grew up in Israel in the 1980’s. Contrary to the stereotype of Israeli society’s negative stance towards Yiddish, they both have fond memories of the Yiddish songs they heard at home. Finkelman’s parents were immigrants from Ukraine, and his grandmother often spoke Yiddish. “Our favorite radio program was ‘Rozhinkes mit Mandlen’, where they constantly played Dudu Fisher and the Barry Sisters,” he said.

Goldberg’s father was a cantor in the IDF, and his family also listened to Dudu Fisher, as well as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, at home in Tel Aviv. “My parents didn’t really want us to listen to the goyishe (secular) love songs, so they played the Yiddish songs before we went to bed,” Goldberger said.
Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Remembering David Brenner, Stand-up Comic for 45 Years


The world of stand-up comedy lost another of its legendary practitioners a few days ago when David Brenner died at the age of 78. Brenner was known for his observational comedy and inspired many comedians to follow his style. A performer for 45 years, he was still doing shows until last December.

He was a long time favorie of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, where he appeared more than 150 times.

According to Wikipedia, Brenner was born to Jewish parents in 1936 and raised in poor areas of South and West Philadelphia. His father, Louis, was a vaudeville comedian, singer and dancer performing under the stage name of Lou Murphy, who gave up his career and a film contract in order to please Brenner's grandfather, a rabbi, who objected to his working on Shabbat.

As David Colker reported in the Los Angeles Times,
In recent years he played casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the country, and he took a light-hearted look at social and political issues on venues as divergent as MSNBC and the Fox News Channel.

One of his most memorable performances was at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks. Though the room was half-empty, Brenner went on with the show. At the finish he told the audience, according to a 2002 article in the St. Petersburg Times, "I'm supposed to end with a joke. But for the first time in my career, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to end by telling you that I learned tonight that if you can laugh, you can live. And that means we are going to get through this." He got a standing ovation.
We found one of Brenner's stand-up routines from 40 years ago to share with you.
Enjoy!

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Monday, March 17, 2014

A Joke to Start the Week - "Hearing Aid"


Well, Purim is over, unless you are celebrating today because you live in a walled city from the time of Joshua, e.g. Jerusalem. 

For everyone else, it's just another Monday. But Mondays are special days, too, since we starting running a Joke to Start the Week a couple of years ago.

Once again we go to the archives of Old Jews Telling Jokes and come up with 68-year-old retired bookkeeper Marvin Nissenbaum telling an oldie but goodie about a hearing aid.

Here's the setup: A man just got a new hearing aid, and he's boasting to his friend how great it is. And then...

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Last (and Best) of the Purim Videos: Michelle Citrin and "Shake Your Grogger"



Today is Purim, and we're sharing our last Purim music video of the season. We're taking a bold step by not first asking for a vote. We're declaring today's video the best Purim video of 2014. We hope you'll agree.

It's Shake Your Grogger, a mix of live action and animation by Michelle Citrin and a cast of dancers and musicians. The song is a parody of the 1960's calypso hit Jump in the Line (Shake Senora).

Michelle is best known as the creator and star of viral video hits including “20 Things to do with Matzah,” “Call Your Zeyde”, Rosh Hashanah Girl” and “Hanukah Lovin.”  In total, these videos have received millions of hits from around the world and has led to the press referring to Michelle as“A YouTube Sensation.”

Michelle’s viral video successes have lead to media coverage ranging from the New York Times to the Huffington Post as well as Good Morning America, CNN, CBS and even being featured on Yahoo.com’s homepage. This year, Michelle had the great honor of performing The National Anthem and her original soulful pop-folk in front of a crowd of 13,000 people including members of Congress.

Enjoy, share with your friends, and play it at your Purim seudah.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

A.K.A. Pella Music Video for Purim: "What Does Haman Say?"


Only two more days to Purim! We're winding up our Purim music videothon with two very well done productions, one today and the last one on Sunday. Today's selection is by an a cappella group called A.K.A. Pella.

Their song, What Does Haman Say, retells the Purim story in rhyme, inspired by the immensely popular song by Ylivis, What Does the Fox Say, which became a global phenomenon with more than 380 million views since its release on YouTube last September.

As an a cappella group, A.K.A. Pella usually sings without musical accompaniment, but since Purim is a topsy-turvy festival, they make an exception and go for orchestration in this video.

Enjoy!


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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Megile of Itzik Manger" Brings Klezmer, Dance, Acrobatics and Comedy to Off-Broadway


Last night we attended an off-Broadway show that we're not hesitating to recommend to any of our readers who can find their way to the Baruch Performing Arts Center on East 25th Street in New York City.

The musical comedy, The Megile of Itzik Manger, is a mesmerizing Yiddish musical with English and Russian supertitles flashed on the screen in the background, so you don't have to know Yiddish to enjoy the Klezmer music, choreography, acrobatics, humor, and just plain energy and comedy that goes on for 90 minutes without intermission on a stage set up as a circus ring.

The show, timed for the Purim season, has only a few more performances left. It was a hit last year and was brought back for another short run this year. At last night's performance, it was announced that on this Saturday night, March 15, the theatre will be the scene of a Purim celebration. The Megillah of Esther will be read in Yiddish, with English translations, 30 minutes prior to the 9:00 pm curtain. 

A reception will follow the Saturday night performance accompanied by a costume contest, so be sure to dress for the occasion. Four other performances remain, two today and two on Sunday.

If you can't see the show this time around, take a look at this video that includes some scenes and an introduction to Itzik Manger and his works.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oscars, Shmoscars! Here Are Our Purim Picks Of The Best Movies Of 2013

Happy Purim to all of our Jewish Humor Central readers.  We hope you enjoy this special Purim spoof from the Purim 2014 issue of The Kustanowitz Kronikle.  You can download the PDF by clicking HERE.  Print it and share it at your Purim Seudah.
 
There are the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards (Oscars).  But who needs them when the best awards of all are the Silver Graggers.  Jewish Humor Central is proud to present the movie awards from our sister publication, The Kustanowitz Kronikle.

The Silver Graggers are different from the Golden Globes and the Oscars in that there are multiple winners for Best Picture, the only award we give.
 
This year the Kustanowitz kids have been hard at work, deliberating which films released in 2013 merited consideration for this prestigious award.  Today we are announcing the winners of the annual competition.  Here are the best films of 2013, with a brief description of each one.
 
GRAVITY:  On Friday night in outer space, a Jewish astronaut spends three hours trying to pour grape juice into a kiddush cup.

12 YEARS A SLAVE: On the eve of her Bat Mitzvah, a girl is devastated to learn that “becoming a young woman” does not mean she’ll be moving out of her controlling parents’ house.

CATCHING FIRE: When the twisted wicks of the Havdalah candle refuse to ignite, one girl has the secret of obtaining a flame.

THE LE(mypeople)GO MOVIE: For Jews escaping Egypt, everything is awesome.

FROZEN: Tales from the womens’ section of a Florida shul during the High Holidays, as the women huddle together for warmth and figure out how to signal the Shabbos goy to turn down the air conditioner.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT: A frum couple meets over breakfast and is engaged shortly after dinner.

ENOUGH SAID: At the Shabbat dinner table, children test their parents’ patience by humming and grunting complete sentences after washing their hands but before making Motzi.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY: The staff of an ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva high school goes ballistic when they learn that one of their students will be attending a secular college.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB: One desperate Jew, told that there would be no matzah available for his Texas town, takes measures into his own hands by creating the most unleavened smuggling ring in history.

ALL IS LOST: Hopelessly drunk after the fourth cup of wine, a family’s patriarch overreacts to the disappearance of the Afikoman.

HER: A grandmother doesn’t even pretend to remember the name of her 17th grandchild.

THE LOAN ARRANGER: A synagogue’s treasurer saves the day when he calls on his Wall Street connections to guarantee a multimillion dollar loan for construction of a mikvah and swimming pool in the new building extension.

NOW YOU SEE ME: A Kohen peeks out from behind his tallit and plays hide and seek with congregation members who violate the custom of averting their eyes during the Priestly Blessing.

 BAD GRANDPA: The synagogue’s candy man is relieved of his duties when the children he supplies with lollipops discover that they don’t have an accepted hashgacha.