Why are you asking so many questions and wanting to write about our community in the newspaper? Why do people care about Iranian Jews in Los Angeles? Do you really think you’re accomplishing anything by writing about our triumphs and failures in the newspaper?
“Don’t Tell My Mother!” creator Nikki Levy is a producer at 20th Century Fox who grew up in a Jewish household in New York — with a stereotypical Jewish mother. During a series of interviews, she described how, for her, the show’s best stories are wild without being mean-spirited, salacious but still enlightening. The following is an edited and condensed version of those interviews.
Protests are mounting against plans by the city of Frankfurt to honor Jewish-American scholar Judith Butler, a staunch critic of Israel.
Writer and film director Nora Ephron, known for work on movies such as "When Harry Met Sally," has died in New York at age 71, according to media reports Tuesday night, hours after it was first revealed that she was gravely ill and near death.
On May 23, Valley Beth Shalom hosted an event designed to inspire the creation of new Jewish comedy and drama, and encourage the ongoing tradition of Jewish creativity and invention. Moderated by VBS Senior Rabbi Ed Feinstein, the program was a presentation of the synagogue's Jewish Writers Roundtable, a group of about 10 members.
The year was 1960. Tom Tugend, living in Israel and working as the temporary head of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s public relations department, had to make a choice: keep his job or return to Los Angeles to a UCLA job he’d had before moving to Israel.
Jewish feminist writer E.M. Broner, perhaps best known as the co-author of “The Women’s Haggadah," has died.
The New York Times apologized for allowing a writer who has attended pro-Palestinian rallies to co-author a story claiming that Jewish criticism of Israel has grown in the San Francisco region. The Feb. 3 article, headlined "A Jewish Group Makes Waves, Locally and Abroad," covered tensions among Jews in the area. It focused particularly on Jewish Voice for Peace, which is noncommittal on whether Israel should become a binational state.
So what can you say about a 44-year-old comedian who died? That she leaves a certain legacy of laughter, through the efforts of her brother, to those who never heard of her.
Elinor Lipman, writer of smart and often hilarious modern-day social satire, considers herself "the luckiest writer." Her first novel, "Then She Found Me," well-received when it was published in 1990 and selling steadily ever since, has inspired the film of the same name -- starring, co-written and directed by Helen Hunt -- that opens in theaters this Friday.
When writer/director Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") discovered he was going to become a father two years ago, he was concerned about the tumultuous state of the world into which his child was being born. Spurlock's wish was to give his child a safer and more harmonious place to live. So, after a crash course in combat survival, the filmmaker set off on a journey through the Middle East to find the one man who has shaped the world's perception of that region in recent years: Osama bin Laden. The results of that quest are documented in his new film, "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?"
The conversation was joyful and funny, but something was bothering me. I couldn't stop thinking about the poached eggs.
We had all ordered our breakfasts at the same time. I got my Irish oatmeal, my daughter got her bagel and cream cheese, but the poached eggs? It seemed like they would never come. Every time a server would come near our table, I would arch my neck to see if they were carrying the poached eggs. Waiter after waiter walked by, only to deliver food to other patrons.
Passover is a holiday near and dear to Marc Jaffe's heart. So when the "Seinfeld" and "Mad About You" writer went to a friend's house for a seder last year, he was let down when an Elijah's entrance gag bombed.
"They shook the table. I thought, 'You gotta be kidding me,'" he said. "You gotta have better effects than that."
In the stark black-and-white photo, two small children play in and around water, as children anywhere might do on a hot day. But there's something odd about the image: it isn't the shore or a recreational pool they're playing in, but a concrete irrigation canal.
No doubt because I once worked at a Jewish newspaper and have written a novel about a woman rabbi -- not to mention a work of nonfiction called "The Talmud and the Internet" -- I am sometimes asked if my new book about bird-watching, "The Life of the Skies," is a Jewish book.
Do you write from memory? Someone always asks, and I become tongue-tied and uncertain, scrambling for the words, the ways to make believable what I know will sound bizarre -- a too-complicated response where all that is required is a simple "Yes" or "No" or "Sometimes; the rest is research."
I lived in Iran for only 13 years. I remember very little -- a handful of places, a couple of dozen friends and relatives. Yet, I've spent my entire career writing about the country and its people, and I've written it all -- this is the part that's difficult to explain -- from memory.
For Walt Whitman, the Civil War was about the body. The crime of the Confederacy, Whitman believed, was treating blacks as nothing but flesh, selling them and buying them like pieces of meat. Whitman's revelation, which he had for the first time at a New Orleans slave auction, was that body and mind are inseparable. To whip a man's body was to whip a man's soul.
When I was asked by The Jewish Journal whether I'd like to write something funny about the WGA strike, I thought -- hey, there's nothing funny about this: corporate bullies refusing to pay writers for their work. This is serious. But as my friend Rob Lotterstein, creator and executive producer of Fox's "The War at Home" says, "Just because we're not writing doesn't mean we've lost our sense of humor."
And so, my two favorite playwrights find themselves on opposite sides of a longstanding Jewish divide. "All sound creative art is rooted in a ghetto," the critic Ludwig Lewisohn once wrote. Once out of that ghetto, the roots bifurcate, and we Jews have fashioned two strategies for survival. For the Mamets, salvation lies in toughness and certainty, the People of the Butch. For Kushner, our promise is in compromise and doubt.
In 2005, Italian filmmaker Davide Ferrario decided to mark the 60th anniversary of Primo Levi's liberation by retracing the route of the writer's journey in January 1945, from Auschwitz to his hometown of Turin, with a camera crew. The result is Ferrario's documentary "Primo Levi's Journey". Intercutting footage from the 2005 journey with Levi's earlier observations on the same places, the film is disorienting in the beginning. Only gradually does it become clear that Ferrario is contrasting how much -- and how little -- has changed in the 60-year interval.
According to the Hebrew Bible, there are any number of crimes for which death is considered the appropriate penalty. Murder another person, and your own life is forfeit. Violate the Sabbath, and you will be stoned. Indulge in incest or adultery, and it is all over. Worship idols, and you have committed a capital crime. And the list goes on.
Cline's book is a dispassionate recounting of the central issues that preoccupy scholars and pseudoscholars of the biblical text.
In May 2006, Harlan Ellison received the Grand Master Award from The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, taking his rightful place among such literary giants of the genre as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury. And now the celebrated writer is the subject of a new documentary, "Dreams With Sharp Teeth," the title taken from a three-volume collection of Ellison's stories.
When Eric R. Kandel says that this award means as much to him as the Nobel, a chuckle rises from the audience and quickly spills into applause. But Kandel isn't joking. "I've been asking myself," he says, "what the difference is between being here and being in Stockholm." Again, there's laughter from the audience.
Etgar Keret is coming to Los Angeles, but fear not. This brilliant young Israeli writer of his generation, a skillful satirist who seems to have a knack for expressing the emotions, thoughts and language of his peers, has not gone completely Hollywood.
When author Marge Piercy was a little girl, her grandmother set a special place at the Passover seder for Blackie, her grandmother's cat.
During one of many cringe-worthy moments in Neil LaBute's play, "Fat Pig," a cad chastises a co-worker for dating a plus-sized woman named Helen.
"Everyone puts Purim on the calendar, but sometimes the spiel gets short shrift," says Rob Kutner, a staff writer for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."
American audiences, in particular, will welcome a film that depicts Israelis as three-dimensional human beings, with strengths and weaknesses, rather than the array of no-goodnicks favored by many Israeli directors harshly critical of their own society.
That initial meeting, as it happened, was the start of something entirely unexpected. Within a year, we were engaged. That was the fairy-tale ending of one story, but the prelude to another -- our Hollywood moment.
For this writer, at a time when literary books no longer hold the general culture in thrall and in a city where many sit alone in rooms wondering, in the words of E.M. Forster, "how to connect," it is reassuring to read a blog where someone cares about literature and those novels that may never make the best-seller lists.
If Schulberg's literary debut led to his temporary estrangement from Hollywood, where he had grown up as the son of Paramount executive B.P. Schulberg, it did not affect his association with the fight game.
A classically trained pianist who didn't write his first song until he was 24, Friedman thrives on intensive research -- whether it's the hundreds of interviews that form the basis of The Civilians' plays, or historical research for "Bloody Bloody" -- and draws musical inspiration from a seemingly limitless range of styles.
One of the best American short story writers, Apple has just published "The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories" (Johns Hopkins Press), his first collection of stories in 20 years. He writes with the same playful imagination and comic intelligence as in his earlier stories, layered with irony and an infallible sense of detail.
Who doesn't love old Jewish comedians? Those mamzers of mirth and halutzim of humor who paved the road from the Catskills to Vegas as first-generation entertainers.
For so many Jewish men, it always comes back to fathers and sons, despite what Philip Roth might think. Look at the films of Daniel Burman, the rising young star of the New Argentine Cinema.
At the beginning of "For One More Day," Mitch Albom's latest sermon on life, death and the realms beyond, fallen baseball star Charles "Chick" Benetto attempts suicide.
Bill Styron died last week at the age of 81.
The author of the "Confessions of Nat Turner" and "Sophie's Choice" was indisputably a great writer, a writer's writer. His words were carefully, painstakingly chosen and anyone who loved the English language enjoyed the pure craftsmanship of Styron.
Although had she expressed a desire to become a professional cook, Fine is convinced that her mother "would have freaked." Cooking was thought of as "such an ordinary job, one that simply wasn't OK for nice Jewish girls," Fine said.
Whether they're secular or religious, Jewish astronomers are part of a venerable tradition of inquiry and teaching. And the light transmitted by this tradition shines just as brightly in the upcoming generation of space scientists.
Israel beyond the headlines, a country that has produced a world-class literature.
Jonathan Kirsch's compelling new book, "A History of the End of the World" is discussed and compared to other views about the end-time.
When it comes to ethics, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin is an idealist and an activist. He'd like to see Jews develop moral imaginations as much as intellectual imaginations, parents praise children for their kind acts as much as for their academic achievements and individuals improve their track records in doing the right thing.
The following excerpt is the prologue to "You're Lucky You're Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom," (Viking, 2006) a memoir by Phil Rosenthal, creator and executive producer of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
7 Days in the Arts
We look back on the past because it was another era. In our youth and young years, life included activities you chose. Your responsibilities were minimal compared to those as you grew older. Being young and thinking young allowed you to exist in a world that is the start of the middle age.
Michael Simkin, CEO of C-Do Networks, believes that Sheinkin still retains enough of its eccentricity and bustle to perpetuate its mythic status.
Daniel, a 24-year-old UCLA student, has gotten under my skin. I met him a month ago when I followed Rabbi Yossi Carron on his rounds through Men's Central Jail and Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.