Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Even the fake news about Occupy Wall Street appears to have taken notice of the preponderance of Jews involved in the protests.
On Nov. 7, The Onion, “America’s Finest News Source,” published an article under the headline, “Bank Executives on 15th Floor Gambling on Which Occupy Wall Street Protester Will Be Arrested Next.”
The article reported that bankers were placing bets on whether the next to be handcuffed by police would be the protester in a Guy Fawkes’ Mask, a “feisty” girl passing out leaflets, or “some scrawny hippie with a braided beard.”
The photograph accompanying the article showed the bankers—all male—pointing at a whiteboard with a list of protesters written on it. While some of the options at the top of the board are clearly visible—“Guy Banging Loud on Doors,” “Girl in Camo Pants,” “V For Vendetta mask Guy”—others are partially or completely obscured by the pinstriped arms of the bankers’ suits.
But tell me, near the bottom of the board—so low down that the blue lettering actually got cropped out of the version of the photo on the website—does it not say “Rabbis”? Right there, peeking out from beneath that fistful of twenties, in the screenshot from yesterday’s email?
A call to the Onion’s media representative has not yet been returned.
5.22.13 at 1:56 am | Eric Garcetti appeared to be on track to become. . .
5.21.13 at 11:06 am | Using his preternatural smoothness, Justin. . .
5.20.13 at 11:40 am | Proving once again that there isn’t anything he. . .
5.14.13 at 9:59 am | This week on his podcast, Jewish comedian Marc. . .
4.30.13 at 10:58 am | Michael Diamond (Mike D.) and Adam Horovitz. . .
4.25.13 at 4:47 pm |
4.24.13 at 3:15 pm | So, 17-year-old Milken Community High School. . . (824)
4.25.13 at 4:47 pm | (484)
5.14.13 at 9:59 am | This week on his podcast, Jewish comedian Marc. . . (131)
November 8, 2011 | 1:45 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The USC Shoah Foundation Institute is expanding its visual history archive to include video recordings of testimonies about genocides other than the Holocaust, starting with a collection of 50 testimonies by survivors of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
It will be the first time the institute will incorporate into its archive of almost 52,000 videotaped Holocaust-related testimonies the voices of those who experienced other genocides—and it is sure not to be the last.
“We are not trying to compare human suffering,” said Stephen D. Smith, the institute’s executive director, who said that the institute had plans to incorporate voices from the Cambodian and Armenian genocides into the archive in the near future. “What we’re trying to do is document each of these experiences with depth and dignity.”
Some video recordings of Rwandan survivor testimony do already exist, Smith said, but this project, which will cost about $500,000 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, will ensure that the Rwandan testimonies are as easily accessible and searchable as the institute’s Holocaust-related testimonies are.
The Rwandan project is being conducted in partnership with the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, an institution based in the Rwandan capital that was established in partnership with the United Kingdom-based Aegis Trust, an organization Smith founded before he came to the institute two years ago.
Over the course of the coming year, a group of Rwandans, including three survivors who are now being trained at the institute, will prepare the video recordings for inclusion in the archive. They will translate the testimonies from Kinyarwanda into English, add subtitles to the videos, and attach tags to the testimonies in the same way that the Shoah archive’s Holocaust-related holdings already are classified.
Karen Jungblut, the institute’s director of research and documentation, is directly responsible for the Rwanda project. Jungblut started out as an indexer in 1996, just two years after the foundation was founded by Steven Spielberg, and ten years before it moved its archive to the University of Southern California, in 2006, to become the USC Shoah Foundation Institute.
She said the expansion of the archive to include testimonies about other genocides didn’t constitute a shift of the organization’s mission.
“The mission of Shoah has always been ‘To overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of the Institute’s visual history testimonies,’” Jungblut said.
“At that time it was a conscious decision not to say ‘Holocaust testimony,’ with the view that it would open the door to including testimonies of survivors of genocides other than the Holocaust,” Jungblut said.
While most of the first batch of Rwandan testimonies will be from survivors, some voices of rescuers will be included. On Nov. 6, Jungblut herself interviewed Roméo Dallaire, the general who served as the commander of the United Nations’ force in Rwanda who stayed behind when the rest of the forces pulled out just days before the genocide began.
“It’s hard to describe in words,” Jungblut said of the three-and-a-half hour interview with Dallaire. Jungblut said that Dallaire told her that although he had tried his best, he did not feel as if he had done enough. Moreover, Jungblut said, Dallaire felt that the international community let him down.
For Smith, the opportunity to compare the “causes and consequences” of different genocides can lead to discoveries. The Rwandan Genocide, Smith said, bore remarkable similarities to the experience in 1941 of Lithuanian Jewry.
“I spent a lot of time in Lithuania,” Smith, who has spent his career studying the Holocaust of European Jewry, said. “When I got to Rwanda, I recognized it so well: Localized, neighborhood-driven, collaborator-driven killing. By hand.”
Smith hopes that the expansion of the archive to other genocides will help the institute advance its educational mission, by illustrating the universality of genocide, that what happened in one place because of one set of ideologies has—and, indeed, can—happen in another place, at another time, because of a different set of ideologies.
“Being able to listen to survivors from a range of experiences is going to give [students] a better literacy around these issues, and inspire them to be more sensitive,” Smith said.
November 7, 2011 | 5:07 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
Less than two hours after the guilty verdict against Michael Jackson’s personal physician Conrad Murray was issued, Jewish cardiologist Alon Steinberg, who testified as an expert witness against Murray, praised the jury’s decision.
“Thank God the jury did the right thing,” said Steinberg, who at the time of the phone interview was driving to the CNN building for an interview that will air tonight. Steinberg is based in Ventura County.
Conrad Murray was found guilty of one count of involuntary manslaughter of the iconic pop singer, who died in June 2009. Murray was found guilty for his use of the anesthetic propofol on Jackson, despite Murray’s argument that Jackson might have administered the lethal dose to himself. Murray was Jackson’s personal physician, and he will face sentencing ranging from “probation to four years in prison,” the Huffington Post reported.
Steinberg appeared in court at the request of the Los Angeles County District, one of three medical experts brought in for the trial. Steinberg has made donations to the Jewish Federation of Ventura County and attended services at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue and the Chabads of Ventura County and Malibu.
The jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching a decision. Judge Michael Pastor ordered Murray “remanded without bail pending sentence until Nov. 29,” according to eonline.com.
Steinberg said he was “extremely surprised” when asked to serve as an expert witness. Before the district attorney’s office officially chose Steinberg, he filled out a report concerning the trial and “they gave me so much material, the ambulance reports, the medical reports, all these interviews and phone reports, and I decided to simplify my report,” Steinberg said. “I decided to make my report just about what Conrad Murray said himself in an investigation with detectives… to use his own words to look at things.”
Steinberg said that Deputy District Attorney David Walgren, who represented the prosecution in the Murray trial—Ed Chernoff served as Murray’s lead attorney - was impressed by Steinberg’s willingness to be open about what he doesn’t know.
“Doctors work very hard sometimes, and there’s a lot of false accusations,” Steinberg said. “I try to be as King Solomon as possible when deciding things.”
Steinberg had never before appeared in a courtroom as an expert medical witness. He was excited to have had the experience—even if many, including his mother, didn’t believe him when he told them he’d been selected to appear.
“I would say, ‘Oh, Mom, I’m going to be expert witness on the Michael Jackson trial, and she said, ‘Oh yeah, sure.’ ”
Jackson had been scheduled to begin a concert tour in July 2009, less than one month after the date of his death. A documentary following Jackson rehearsing for the tour was released later that year. The film, “This is It,” showed Jackson in good health.
Steinberg said that the Medical Board of California will suspend Murray’s medical license – which is something that happens automatically when a guilty verdict is handed down in medical malpractice cases.
Will Murray lose his license for good?
“I don’t know the answer,” Steinberg said. “We’re a forgiving society. And Jews are forgiving too. He made a mistake.
“The answer is I don’t know,” Steinberg said again. “It’s going to be a decision up to the board, and I guess society.”
November 4, 2011 | 2:22 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
That old trooper Fanny Brice would have blown her top at the news that the revival of “Funny Girl,” based on her life, has been cancelled.
Previews of the show were scheduled to start Jan. 15 at the Ahmanson Theatre, followed by a Broadway run in April.
New York producers of the show blamed the weak economy for the cancellation, saying that it would have cost $12 million to launch what would have been one of Broadway’s most expensive revivals.
A spokeswoman for the Center Theatre Group, which runs the Ahmanson and the Taper Forum, on Friday confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that artistic director Michael Ritchie had been informed of the New York decision on Thursday.
Ritchie announced that he was looking for a replacement production and the spokeswoman said that she had no information at this point about patrons’ reactions to the “Funny Girl” cancellation.
However, it is unlikely that any substitute will mollify fans of the quintessential Jewish musical (all right, we can argue about “Fiddler on the Roof.”)
“Funny Girl,” which launched the career of Barbra Streisand on stage and screen, is based on the life of the 1920s and ‘30s comedienne Fanny Brice, the daughter of a Jewish saloonkeeper on the Lower East Side.
She made up for her lack of conventional female prettiness with an enormous talent that propelled her to stardom in the Ziegfeld Follies. Later she embarked on a second career in her radio incarnation as Baby Snooks.
The role of Brice is so identified with a Jewish performer, that when the non-Jewish Lauren Ambrose was cast in the role for the now cancelled revival, the blogosphere lit up with skeptical comments questioning whether Ambrose could do justice to the role.
November 3, 2011 | 1:15 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The folks on the fringes of Occupy Wall Street rallies who have been holding signs and hollering slogans about Jewish control of large banking institutions may just be the loudest among the minority of Americans who think Jews have too much influence in the financial sector.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released the results of its most recent “Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America,” on Nov. 3. The survey (pdf) found that 19 percent of Americans thought it was “probably true” that “Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street.”
That’s an increase from the last time the ADL asked the question, in 2009, when only 14 percent of Americans answered that way.
In an emailed statement announcing the findings, ADL National Director Abe Foxman attributed the increase in anti-Semitic beliefs among Americans to “the downturn in the economy” and “changing demographics in our society.”
The 11-question poll, which was first devised by the ADL in 1964, was administered to 1,754 adults across the country by telephone in October.
The survey also found that nearly one in three Americans (30 percent) believes Jews are “more loyal to Israel than to America,” and a similar number (31 percent) feel that “Jews talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”
The survey did show that most Americans have non-prejudicial things to say about Jews. Seventy-nine percent said Jews “have a strong faith in God,” 64 percent agreed that Jews “have contributed much to cultural life of America,” and 83 percent credited Jews with emphasizing “the importance of family life.”
November 3, 2011 | 11:50 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The Los Angeles Community Eruv, the boundary that enables observant Jews to carry objects in public spaces on Shabbat, was not in operation last Shabbat, Oct. 28-29, and might not be up by sundown on Friday, Nov. 4, according to an email circulated on the eruv’s listserv.
“We have lost several hundred yards of eruv boundary to construction along the 405, and do not have the appropriate permission to replace it in a workable fashion,” Howard Witkin, the eruv’s volunteer administrator, wrote in an email to the eruv-related mailing list on Oct. 27.
Mostly of concern to observant Jews, the L.A. eruv was the subject of an article in the Los Angeles Times in July. Part of the full-scale media coverage of the impending weekend-long closure of the 405 in July known as “Carmageddon,” the article said that Witkin had “nothing but praise for the contractor and government agencies for their sensitivity” to this little-known religious matter affecting somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 people.
Witkin could not be reached for comment on the recent downing of the eruv, but in an email sent on Nov. 2 to the listserv, he wrote that the eruv administrators were unsure whether repairs would be completed in time for the coming Sabbath.
The temporary downing L.A. eruv comes at a time when at least a few other eruvs nationwide are out of commission as well, most of them in the East coast communities struck by an early autumn snowstorm on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“Our eruv relies almost exclusively—99 percent—on existing telephone poles,” said Rabbi Yossi Pollak of Beit Chaverim, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Westport, Conn. “So when there’s a storm that brings down telephone poles, as this storm did, it means we have to repair the eruv.”
Pollak said that he expected the repairs to the Norwalk/Westport eruv to take between three or four weeks.
In all communities, life without an eruv changes the experience of Shabbat.
Rabbi Aaron Alexander, associate dean at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, a Conservative rabbinical school in Los Angeles, recently posted a sum-up of a conversation that took place on Facebook just before last Shabbat, an event he and others are calling “eruv-mageddon.”
Part of the conversation centered on the way an eruv—or the lack thereof—can impact men and women differently. Without an eruv, observant Jews are not allowed to push their children in strollers. “Sadly,” Alexander wrote, “for the most part, women and small children who can’t walk on their own are most likely confined to the home.” You can read his whole post here.
It’s unclear when Los Angeles’s eruv will be back in operation. While the message on the Los Angeles Community Eruv hotline recorded on Friday, Oct. 28, said that the eruv might not be up for the Shabbat of Nov. 4, but would “most likely be up” by Nov. 11, a more recent communication from the eruv administrators painted a more dire picture.
In an “Important note” included in the Nov. 3 edition of the Hillygram, a daily email newsletter that covers the Orthodox Jewish community of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Community Eruv had this to say (reproduced as written, with all emphases from the original post):
BECAUSE OF THE ONGOING 405 CONSTRUCTION, THE ERUV BUDGET HAS DOUBLED. IT’S NOT CARMAGEDON - IT’S A WEEKLY ERUV-MAGEDON! AND IT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR MONTHS, DARINING THE ERUV RESOURCES. WITHOUT
SHUL PARTICIPATING AND
PERSON PARTICIPATING IN MAINTAINING THE LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY ERUV, THERE WILL NOT BE AN ERUV. DID YOU ENJOY LAST SHABBOS WITHOUT AN ERUV???!!! PLEASE! DO YOUR PART TO ENSURE THE CONTINUED OPERATION OF
November 1, 2011 | 11:08 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Cary Brazeman, the public face of a community group aimed at improving the quality of life for Angelenos, told the Jewish Journal that he declared his candidacy on Tuesday, Nov. 1, for Los Angeles City Controller.
Brazeman is not registered with a political party, and he is joining a race that so far includes just one other candidate, Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis P. Zine. According to the Los Angeles Times, Zine, a long-time Republican, changed his party affiliation earlier this year to “decline-to-state.”
The controller’s office is currently held by Wendy Gruel, who is running in a crowded field to succeed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The open elections for mayor, controller and other citywide offices are all scheduled for March 2013.
Brazeman, 45, is a public relations executive and a member of his local neighborhood council. Born and raised Jewish, Brazeman is openly gay and is a member of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood.
To observers of Los Angeles city politics, however, Brazeman is likely best known as the face of the group LA Neighbors United, a loosely knit organization that he founded in late 2009 with the mission of “making Los Angeles a better place to live and do business.”
To that end, In July, and again in September, Brazeman’s group took out full-page advertisements in local newspapers—including the Jewish Journal—making the argument that any new NFL football stadium built in Los Angeles had to be built in a way that would benefit citizens and that would not cause environmental harm.
If elected to the post of controller, a job that Brazeman described as “part-chief auditor and part inspector general,” he hopes to incorporate a “public advocate” role into his work, in an effort to “develop better solutions to our core problems.”
In an interview with the Jewish Journal this summer, Brazeman described himself as “a question-asker,” and that quality is apparent in the section of his campaign website where he promises that as city controller he will “ask hard questions that challenge the status quo.”
On the website announcing his candidacy, Brazeman pledged not to accept contributions from “for-profit companies or unions.” He will have to make up some ground in the fundraising race; Zine’s campaign notified the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission in mid-October that it had raised over $100,000.
Brazeman expects to spend between $500,000 and $1 million on his campaign, and said he is confident that he can raise that amount from individuals and making use of matching public funds. He intends to launch his campaign in earnest in March 2012, one year before the open election.
November 1, 2011 | 4:35 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
Gilbert (“Gil”) Cates, who died Oct. 31 at 77, was a multi-faceted theater, film and television producer and director, university dean and the patriarch of large at-home family Seders.
He collapsed in the late afternoon on a UCLA parking lot and an emergency ambulance crew was unable to revive him. According to UCLA sources, he had undergone heart surgery earlier this month.
Cates’ lengthy resume includes producer – and invigorator—of 14 Oscar telecasts, founding director of the Geffen Playhouse, founding former dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and two-time Emmy winner and Oscar nominee. He also produced and directed Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
In 1998, he co-produced the exuberant celebration of Israel’s 50th anniversary at the Shrine Auditorium, which was nationally telecast.
Born Gilbert Katz in New York City, he was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants Nathan Katz, a dress manufacturer, and his wife, Nina.
Following the example of his idolized older brother Joseph, also a director and producer, Gilbert Anglicized his last name.
In a Jewish Journal article by this reporter in 2000, based on an hour-long interview, Cates expressed some qualms about the name change and said he was astonished that many people didn’t realize he was Jewish.
A member of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Cates said “I don’t lay tefillin, and I only go to shul on the High Holy Days, but I feel very proud to be Jewish.”
To the question whether his Jewish background affected his role as producer and director, Cates observed that the answer goes well beyond a count of plays with specifically Jewish themes and characters. For instance, he saw in “Harriet’s Return,” which dealt with Harriet Tubman’s struggle for the freedom of African-American slaves, a play of basic Jewish concern.
Cates stumbled into his profession by accident. He was a pre-med student at Syracuse University, and on its fencing team, when he was asked to instruct student actors in a production of “Richard III” on how to handle swords. He was so taken by the experience that he changed his major to theater.
Cates is survived by his wife, prominent gynecologist Dr. Judith Reichman, four children (including director-writer Gil Cates Jr.), two stepchildren, and six grandchildren. He was the uncle of actress Phoebe Cates.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Reichman was in Tel Aviv at the time of her husband’s death, where her daughter had recently given birth to a baby.