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Posted by Julie Bien
Rachel Bloom, 26, and Dan Gregor and Jack Dolgen, both 31, have just released their first Chanukah album, "Suck it, Christmas"--an adult-themed comedic ode to the standard holiday music released en masse this time of year. The Jewish Journal was able to interview the trio of talented East-siders about how the project came to fruition in only two months.
Dan Gregor and Rachel Bloom holding their new album "Suck it, Christmas."
JJ: Could you describe your respective jobs?
Bloom: On this album, we were all the writers and performers to varying degrees.
Outside of the album, I'm a writer for the show "Robot Chicken" and I specialize in musical comedy. My videos have been featured all over the internet and I'm currently developing a musical show for Showtime called "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."
Dan is a writer-producer for "How I Met Your Mother" and is currently developing a pilot for NBC.
Jack is a writer and musician whose songs have been featured all over film and TV. He's also the frequent music producer and collaborator on my videos.
JJ: What inspired you to make "Suck it, Christmas"?
Bloom: Every year, there are so many Christmas albums being released (comedy and non-comedy alike) but rarely any Chanukah albums. So, we decided to make a Chanukah/Jewish- themed album as a subversive twist on the usual 'warm and toasty' Christmas album.
JJ: How would you describe the album in three words?
Bloom: Jews 'love/hate' themselves...we're counting love/hate as one.
JJ: How long did it take to make it?
Bloom: We cranked this sucker out in a little under two months. We realized we wanted to do it in September, so from writing to music production to making the videos it was a ton of work!
We have two more music videos coming out within the next month to promote the album. 'Chanukah Honey' was just the first.
JJ: What's your favorite track on the album? Or at least the one you had the most fun writing?
Bloom: We all really love Judaica. It just brings me such utter joy to hear it.
The inspiration for Judaica: Dan and I were in Paris last December [note: Dan is Bloom's boyfriend], and we were staying in The Marais (the Jewish section of Paris). We were passing all of these Judaica shops and agreeing that, if our parents came here, these shops are where they'd buy their souvenirs because Jews manage to buy Jewish stuff no matter where they go. I had just heard the Britney Spears/Will.i.am song "Scream and Shout" earlier that day (the one where she does that fake British accent) so I started chanting in this techno British monotone "London, Paris, or Milan. Shopping for Judaica." When we came back from Paris and pitched the idea to Jack, he lost his mind.
JJ: Can we expect any live performances in the LA area?
Bloom: Yes! Among some awesome indie comedy shows in the next few weeks, our big album concert is Saturday, December 7th at 8pm. It's at the Nerdmelt Theater at Meltdown Comics. We'll be performing all the songs live and featuring stories from some Jewish special guests!
JJ: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Bloom: Look out for our music video of "Happy Epic Chanukah" that will be released around December 3rd (done with the YouTube channel Nacho Punch) and the music video of "Lonely Night" will be released in mid/late December (done with the YouTube channel Above Average). We hope to do music videos of "Judaica" and "Foreskin Heaven" next year!
Also, our album cover was designed by the amazing Jewish artist ,Will Deutsch. He's just phenomenal.
JJ: And just for the sake of the season, what's your favorite Chanukah food?
Bloom: I love good old fashioned latkes with sour cream and applesauce. Hipster version--the other night, we made some sweet potato latkes with greek yogurt and those were similarly delicious.
You can check out the video for 'Chanukah Honey' here.
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August 22, 2013 | 12:34 pm
Posted by Israel21c
The American snack food community just got a healthy addition – hummus. Yes, this loved chickpea spread from the Middle East has won new fame in the US following the National Football League’s announcement that hummus is now the official dip of the NFL.
The league chose Sabra hummus – made by Sabra Dipping Company and jointly owned by PepsiCo and Tel Aviv-based Strauss Group– as its official dips sponsor.
But whereas Israelis are used to eating this spread in a pita with falafel or shwarma, Sabra hummus is being marketed as a healthier alternative to mayonnaise.
Sabra’s Israeli CEO Ronen Zohar told Bloomberg that he believes Americans will go gaga over the new dip option. Sabra recently launched its first batch of US television commercials in which they explain to the American masses how to eat hummus.
To continue reading this article, click here: Israel21c.
June 12, 2013 | 12:24 pm
Posted by Jay Firestone
Last night I attended a press screening of the latest installment of the Superman franchise, “Man of Steel,” directed by Zack Snyder and produced by "Batman" director Christopher Nolan.
An avid comic book fan, I expected one of two portrayals of Superman.
Jewish or Jesus.
There’s been a fair amount of discourse on whether the superhero created by two Jews in the late 30s was in fact a Jew. He’s an immigrant, he an outcast, he’s a golem, etc. It’s no surprise that Jews love to call Superman Jewish. (You can read more about that theory here, here or here.)
Then there’s the notion that Superman is Jesus, which tends to eclipse the character’s similarities to Jewish immigrants of the 30s. The 2006 film, "Superman Returns" (directed by Bryan Singer) depicted the man in blue as a godlike savior, sacrificing himself for the good people of Metropolis. The audience is even treated to that classic snapshot of Superman in the clouds, like an angel in heaven…or something cheesy like that.
So how does Superman fare, religiously, in “Man of Steel?"
Well he’s not Jewish…that’s for sure. In fact, he’s as non-Jewish as the Pope is Catholic.
And here are the top six reasons why. [WARNING: Spoilers ahead]
1) Holy Trinity. There’s a strong father-son theme in this movie between Superman (Henry Cavill) and his human father, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner). Throughout the film, repeated flashbacks recall this relationship, establishing context for Superman’s morality. Later, Superman is introduced to the holographic consciousness of his biological father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe). In this incarnation, Jor-El offers guidance and a sense of clarity to Superman (known by his Krypton name, Kal-El). It’s even hinted that Jor-El is like a ghost. So here we have it, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
2) Superman goes to church, seriously. In a moment of uncertainty, Clark Kent finds himself in church seeking advice from a minister. Furthermore, you can see a stained glass Jesus in the background of a close-up on Clark. Real subtle.
3) Superman is willing to die for our sins. In the film, General Zod (Michael Shannon) requests that the people of Earth deliver Superman in exchange for not destroying the planet (Seems legit). Superman, of course, turns himself in. Such a mensch.
4) Superman LOVES to pose like Jesus. There’s a scene where Superman leaps from a spaceship outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead of taking a confident nosedive or cannonball, he falls backwards from the ship with his arms extended, mimicking a “cross.” I’d say it’s a coincidence, but this poses happens twice (at least).
5) Immaculate conception. Or rather…the only conception. In this story, Superman is actually the first natural birth on Krypton in centuries. Other babies are born via some Kryptonian harvest that grows infants out of pods. (It’s like “The Matrix” meets “Children of Men.”) Why don’t Krypton women give birth anymore? Probably because Krypton’s Sunday morning farmer’s market has the freshest babies in town. That…or Jor-El forgot to buy Kryptonite-coated condoms.
6) Superman is 33 and unmarried. If he were Jewish, his mom would be ALL over that.
June 4, 2013 | 9:32 am
Posted by Uri Fintzy, JTA
Meet Wendy, Winnie and Willie.
Done awwing? good.
These three sweet puppies were found deserted near the Israeli town of Netivot in the Negev Desert. The person who found them called Jay and his fiance Roni, a couple who volunteer for animal welfare and occasionally take care of abandoned dogs.
According to Jay’s Reddit post (username jayeugene), the three were “malnourished and dehydrated,” and were found in a box of rotten tomatoes. They were brought to Jay’s home in Beersheva, and they were covered in fleas and ticks.
Caution: kinda gross.
But after a little bath time and removal of almost 300 ticks and fleas…
Wendy, Winnie and Willie. Imgur
The three puppies became viral star after the story floated on Reddit and Buzzfeed.
According to Jay, Wendy was already adopted by SOS Herzliya\a, while Winnie and Willie are still waiting to find a home. More info about adopting them can be found here.
More photos here!
May 28, 2013 | 10:28 am
Posted by Ben Harris, JTA
"Hitler" tea kettle
April 23, 2013 | 1:45 am
Posted Jewish Journal
Did Tamarlan Tsarnaev kill three of his Jewish friends?
The Boston Globe is reporting that the former friends of the man assumed responsible for the Boston marathon bombings now wonder if Tamarlan Tsarnaev, who died after the bombings in a shootout with police, was the perpetrator in a grisly unsolved murder that took place in 2011.
On September 12, 2011, Brendan Mess, Raphael Teken, 37, and Erik Weissman, 31 were found stabbed to death in an apartment in nearby Waltham. The men had deep wounds to their necks, their bodies were strewn with thousands of dollars worth of marijuana, and police recovered $5,000 in cash at the scene. There was no sign of forced entry. Police said they believe the murders were "targeted and not a random act of violence."
Mess, who was Jewish, was a close friend of Tsarnaev. So friends thought it was especially strange when Tsarnaev did not show up at Mess's funeral.
"Tam wasn't there at the memorial service, he wasn't at the funeral, he wasn't around at all," a friend of the murdered men told the Globe. "And he was really close with Brendan. That's why it's so weird when he said, 'I don't have any American friends.'"
"He was somebody who was in contact with Brendan on a daily basis. Anybody like that, you would think they would have been around," Ray said.
Mess and Tsarnaev met at a Jiu Jitsu gym, and trained together regularly.
According to multple reports, Mess, Teken and Weissman were Jewish. Teken had attended Brandeis University, and Weissman took a active role in his synagogue. The murder took place about two and a half miles from the Brandeis campus.
Their murder, which a Waltham police officer called, "the worst bloodbath I have ever seen in a long law enforcement career," came on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 World Trade Center terror attack by Muslim extremists.
The Boston Globe first reported that police are now reinvestigating the case, which has so far gone unsolved. Former friends of the deceased say once they heard Tsarnaev's name mentioned in conjunction with the Marathon bombings, their suspicion grew.
"A few of my friends, without even speaking about it beforehand, have all been thinking this," said one former acquaintance.
The online newspaper WickedLocal.com carried more detailed news of the murdered men after their brutal deaths sent shockwaves through the community. According to the website:
Former CRLS teacher Larry Aaronson who attended the Mess and Weissman funeral services this week said hundreds of friends, neighbors and classmatesturned out to pay tribute.
“For me the greatest pain and deepest grief of these ghastly murders is the tragic mystery of why and how these two gifted and talented social geniuses, intellectsthat engendered so much love and generated so much generosity, nevertheless made certain choices that led to this death trap,” he said.
Weissman was Aaronson’s student in the now defunct The Pilot School at CRLS, where he enjoyed the vibrant culture but failed to grow academically, Aaronson said. Weissman enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the urban nightlife, he said, but was also a “ voracious reader” with a “creative mind” that he used to “challenge conventional wisdom.”
Despite its tragic and mysterious nature, the homicide of the three young men received little national attention. That's clearly about to change.
March 21, 2013 | 11:17 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
Soaring rhetoric mixed with hard truths and tough love in President Barack Obama's major address today to thousands of young Israelis in Jerusalem. Below, for the time-challenged, we've selected the 10 best, must-read passages.
1. THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS
That is why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.
Only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have. But remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the Palestinians – you will define the future of Israel as well.
2. A WARNING TO SYRIA'S ASSAD
The fact that Hizbollah's ally – the Assad regime – has stockpiles of chemical weapons only heightens the urgency. We will continue to cooperate closely to guard against that danger. And I have made it clear to Bashar al-Assad and all who follow his orders: we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people or the transfer of these weapons to terrorists. The world is watching, and we will hold you accountable.
3. A MESSAGE TO IRAN
Strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons. Moreover, peace is far more preferable to war, and the inevitable costs – and unintended consequences – that would come with it. Because of the cooperation between our governments, we know that there remains time to pursue a diplomatic resolution. That is what America will do – with clear eyes – working with a world that is united, and with the sense of urgency that is required.
But Iran must know this time is not unlimited. And I have made the position of the United States of America clear: Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. This is not a danger that can be contained. As President, I have said to the world that all options are on the table for achieving our objectives. America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
4. "YOU ARE NOT ALONE"
Today, I want to tell you – particularly the young people – that so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd. [You are not alone.]
5. PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
But the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student's ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.
Of course, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction. But while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. Over the last few years, they have built institutions and maintained security on the West Bank in ways that few would have imagined a decade ago. So many Palestinians – including young people – have rejected violence as a means of achieving their aspirations.
6. PEACE IS POSSIBLE
Which leads to my third point: peace is possible. I know it doesn't seem that way. There will always be a reason to avoid risk, and there's a cost for failure. There will always be extremists who provide an excuse to not act. And there is something exhausting about endless talks about talks; the daily controversies, and grinding status quo.
7. TIME FOR THE ARABS TO GROW UP
Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed. The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity are over. Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel. Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state, and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable– that real borders will have to be drawn.
8. ON ISRAELI ACCOMPLISHMENT
Through talent and hard work, Israelis have put this small country at the forefront of the global economy. Israelis understand the value of education, and have produced 10 Nobel laureates. Israelis understand the power of invention, and your universities educate engineers and inventors. That spirit has led to economic growth and human progress: solar power and electric cars; bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives; stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease; cell phones and computer technology that change the way we live. If people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at Tel Aviv: home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers. And Israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different Facebook campaign about where I should give this speech.
9. THE ARABS WANT TO BE LIKE YOU
One of the great ironies of what is happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for – education and entrepreneurship; the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, to connect to the global economy – those things can be found in Israel. This should be a hub for thriving regional trade, and an engine of opportunity. And this is already a center for innovation that helps power the global economy. I believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, and a lasting peace.
10. TIKKUN OLAM
We bear that history on our shoulders, and we carry it in our hearts. Today, as we face the twilight of Israel's founding generation, you – the young people of Israel – must now claim the future. It falls to you to write the next chapter in the story of this great nation.
As the President of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend, I am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead. And as a man who has been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the Jewish experience – tikkun olam [REPAIRING THE WORLD]-- I am hopeful that we can draw upon what's best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come; to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war; and to do the work of repairing this world. May God bless you, and may God bless Israel and the United States of America. Toda raba. (Thank you.)
November 6, 2012 | 7:31 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
“I have kids who got laid off from their jobs. I have a grandchild who just graduated college who’s having a tough time finding a job, and I just hope things change for the better.”
- Muriel Perry, who cast her ballot at Sinai Temple this morning
Dennis Kahan said he voted Libertarian this morning at Sinai Temple. He voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson, and left the spaces for Senate and Assembly candidates blank.
On the ballot measures, Kahan voted against any that raised taxes or increased government intrusion into the private sphere – so thumbs down for both Prop. 30 and 38, which would raise taxes to pay for education as well as for Measure B, which would require condom use on the sets of adult films shot in the city of Los Angeles.
“Surprisingly,” Kahan added, “I voted no on Prop. 32,” the ballot measure that would restrict the ability of Unions and corporations to use monies deducted from payroll to pay for political activities.
“I don’t like unions, because they restrict the rights of individuals to work,” Kahan explained, “but I voted against the measure because I don’t want the government telling unions what they can and can’t do.”
Robert Rosenberg wouldn’t hint at who got his vote, but he did have this to say about what needed to change in the American system of elections.
“Shorter campaigns,” he said, “and one six-year term for President instead of two four-year terms.”