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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

October 30, 2003 | 7:00 pm

Not So Funny Comedy

Emotions have been erupting between Jewish comedians performing raunchy and tasteless routines at the twice-monthly, Comedy Central-sponsored "blue" humor "Sit 'n' Spin" nights at Hollywood's Hudson Guild Theatre.

The fracas began at an early October "Sit 'n' Spin" when John Hayman, a non-Jewish comedian, performed his work-in-progress which included a galling routine where Hayman imitated Anne Frank describing her death-camp experience in summer-camp terms. The jokes offended longtime comic actress Annie Korzen, who also performs the traveling one-woman show "Yenta Unplugged." Korzen's heckling brought mixed audience reactions.

At the "Sit 'n' Spin" two weeks later on Oct. 16, while other comedians maintained the lowbrow and crass atmosphere in the club by slinging penis and sex jokes thick and fast, Korzen performed a serious rebuttal piece to Hayman, stating "Didn't the world do enough to Anne Frank?"

Tension climaxed with the evening's final routine by Jewish comic and TV producer Ron Zimmerman, who defended the original Anne Frank routine as satire. He also read Holocaust revisionists' anti-Semitic literature to the audience, saying, "This is not satire. Why aren't Annie [Korzen] and her friends out heckling them?"

Zimmerman then read the original Anne Frank routine, including a joke about her death camp's arts and crafts activities including the pulling of gold teeth. Korzen's supporters stood and walked out, shouting "This is disgusting!"

The show's organizers then cut short Zimmerman's routine, cuing the house band and announcing the evening's end.

"Shame on you!" said Zimmerman as patrons left their seats. "Everybody that left here is pathetic! The last Jewish man standing, that's what I am." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Knott's Berry Shul

Prayer was a special Sukkot attraction at Knott's Berry Farm, when about 50 visitors converged to daven mincha, the afternoon prayer service, on Oct. 15.

Remembering Chana

Supporters of Bais Chana of California Women's Yeshiva gathered at the home of Alan and Lisa Stern on Oct. 1 to honor the memory of rebbetzin Chana Schneersohn, the mother of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the seventh Chabad Rebbe.

Rebbetzin Chana died 39 years ago, on the sixth day of Tishrei, but she is vividly remembered for the self sacrifice that she exhibited when her husband, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was exiled in Siberia in the 1920s and 1930s. There she collected herbs and plants to grind into ink so that he could continue writing his kabbalistic texts.

At the Stern's house, Berel Weiss spoke about the joy of giving, and Sarah Karmely talked about inspiration from the rebbetzin. Neil Seidel played Chasidic tunes on the guitar, and Vanessa Paloma played the harp.

Nshei Chabad (the Women of Chabad) also held a gathering for the rebbetzin's yarhzeit, at the home of Devorie Kreiman in Hancock Park. Fayge Yemini and Ruchama Thaler organized the event, which featured Shternie Lipsker from Sherman Oaks, speaking about the High Holidays, and Chabad emissary Ita Marcus from Los Alamitos, who spoke about the mystical experience of baking challah. Marcus explained that the Hebrew name Chana stands for the three mitzvot given to women: challah (separating a portion of challah dough for God), niddah (family purity) and hadlakas ner (lighting Shabbat candles). She said that one should give charity before baking challah, and when kneading the dough, one should bear in mind the needs of others, and ask that they be blessed with what they need.

For more information about Nshei Chabad, call 310 785-9389, or 323-651-0138.

Booth-ilicious

If you are still hankering for a taste of sukkot then you can head down to the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles where you can look at the winning booths of the Jewish Student Union's (JSU) model-sukkah-building contest. Be sure to check out Gina Gorner's winning booth. Gorner is a sophomore at John Marshall High School, and she won the $200 prize. Neda Kadkhoda and Nazanin Frankel of Santa Monica High School shared the first runner-up prize, a Sony Discman. Honorable mentions went to Michelle Rapport of Hamilton High School, and Jasmine Andout and Julianne Andout of Santa Monica High School.

JSU is a program that facilitates Jewish clubs for public school kids. Typically, JSU counselors go to public schools at lunchtime armed with kosher pizzas, and sit down and talk about Judaism with unaffiliated Jewish students in a friendly and open manner. Currently, JSU is operating in 14 public high schools in the greater Los Angeles area.

Call 310-229-9006 for more details.

Laugh it up

Fifth District City Councilmember Jack Weiss refused to tell any jokes, but he did get up on stage on Oct. 16 at the Laugh Factory to thank everyone who attended the Benefit for the Fairfax Building Plane Crash Victims (to help those injured in the June 6 tragedy when a airplane crashed into an apartment building in the Fairfax district). The comedians who performed were hilarious. Among them, Sunda Croonquist who launched into a thousand accents as she described being black, Jewish and having to fit into both South Los Angeles and Sinai Temple; Tony Rock, brother of comedian Chris; and Bob Saget ("Full House," "America's Funniest Home Videos").

Before Saget's set, he and Weiss schmoozed about the jokes they heard in shul over the High Holidays.

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