Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rabbi Tom Hanks Dances at Scooter Braun's Jewish Wedding

RABBI TOM HANKS? No, Tom Hanks is not playing a rabbi in his next movie. However, video and photos of Tom Hanks wearing a white kippah (yarmulke) and a fake tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) are all over the Internet thanks to Justin Bieber.

Bieber was at the Jewish wedding of his long-time manager Scooter Braun in Whistler over the weekend. It looked like quite the party and Justin Bieber uploaded video of Tom Hanks dancing to the classic ‘90s song "This is How We Do It". From Bieber's Instagram account the video quickly went viral and was reported on by several entertainment television shows and celebrity websites.

Bieber has more than 17 million followers on Instagram. He captioned the video: "Haha Tom Hanks singing 'This Is How we do it' dressed like a Rabbi lol #thatdancetho".

Scooter Braun is 33 and his new wife is 27. Yael is the CEO of F--- Cancer, an organization she founded after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2009.

Other celebrities in attendance at Scooter Braun's wedding to cancer activist Yael Cohen in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, over the Fourth of July weekend included Tom Hanks, his wife Rita Wilson, Sophia Bush, Carly Rae Jepsen and Ed Sheeran.

Rabbi Tom Hanks in a kippah and tallit dances at Scooter Braun's wedding
Tom Hanks in a kippah and tallit dances at Scooter Braun's wedding

Here's the awesome video of Forrest Gump, er, I mean Tom Hanks:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mike Myers Introduces New Generation to Shep Gordon

A FEW MONTHS AGO I GOT a voicemail from a publicist in Los Angeles. She told me that she stumbled upon my blog on the web, read some of my posts, and thought I'd enjoy watching a movie she was promoting. I returned the call and we talked a little about Hollywood icon Shep Gordon and the film about him that Mike Myers directed.

I quickly agreed to screen an advance of the movie and within a week I received a copy of "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon". I put the film on one of my monitors and continued to do some work on the other. Well that lasted for about 30 seconds until my full attention was directed to the very Jewish looking guy on the screen who sounded a little like Larry David with a nasal infection.

I was hooked. The film has interviews from some of Hollywood's biggest celebrities talking about why Shep Gordon is such a great guy (read: mensch). This biography documentary could easily have felt like a bar mitzvah tribute video, albeit to a seventy-year-old Hollywood agent, but Myers succeeded in making this a truly touching film that shows the best parts of Hollywood.

For several decades Shep Gordon was a Hollywood agent to the likes of Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, Groucho Marx, Luther Vandross, Blondie, Raquel Welch and even Pink Floyd (for only 9 days).

Shep Gordon

Later in his career he developed the concept of the "Celebrity Chef" with his client Emeril Lagasse. But more than a name-dropping history lesson in how a trumpanick of a kid becomes a successful agent in Hollywood, this film is a warm, touching story of a guy who really was a mensch.

Throughout his diverse career Shep Gordon gave out "coupons" to help people out. These were favors or loans that he'd float to help out his friends in difficult times. When the great Groucho Marx was struggling after his career was over, Shep cashed in some of these coupons to help out the legendary comedian.

Continue reading on

Rabbi Jason Miller, a co-founder of, is an educator, entrepreneur and blogger. He also writes the Jewish Techs blog. He is president of Access Computer Technology. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mick Jagger Knows Some Hebrew (Apparently)

MICK JAGGER, KEITH RICHARDS AND THE REST of the Rolling Stones gave Israelis a real treat the other night in Tel Aviv when they performed a sold out concert at Hayarkon Park.

David Horovitz of the Times of Israel put together a list of Mick Jagger's Hebrew expressions throughout the night. (To be fair, some of the words are Arabic.) Based on what most attendees have told me, his pronunciation was near perfect revealing that he must have had some good coaching and practiced the phrases before taking the stage right after the conclusion of the Shavuot holiday.

Here's Horovitz's list (in order of appearance):

1. Erev Tov Tel Aviv (Good evening Tel Aviv). A modest opening foray, delivered two songs in. Quickly followed by…

2. Chag Shavuot Sameach, Yisrael (Happy Shavuot, Israel). Already impressive. A festive greeting. A mention of Israel. And those awkward guttural sounds mastered on CHag and SameaCH.

3. Anachnu HaAvanim Hamitgalgalot (Literally: We are the Rolling Stones). Yup, we knew that. We just didn’t know he knew how to say it in our language.

4. Todah. Shukran (Thank you, in Hebrew and Arabic). Delivered after an aching “Angie.” We were the thankful ones.
Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones perform in Tel Aviv [Photo: EPA]

5. Hakol Sababa? (All good?). Excellent Arabic slang, invoked anxiously after “Paint It Black.” Reassured by a huge cheer that everything was indeed sababa, Jagger gave us a rich cockney “ohhhh kayy!”

The Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie Wood, during the band's concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 4, 2014. (Photo credit: Flash 90)
The Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie Wood, during the band’s concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 4, 2014. (Photo credit: Flash 90)

6. Kanita Na’alayim Bashuk? (Did you buy shoes in the market?) The evening’s undoubted Hebrew highlight, asked of a presumably uncomprehending Ronnie Wood, who was wearing nifty orange sneakers. There was no audible reply, in Hebrew or any other language.

7. Lisa Fischer maksima (The lovely Lisa Fischer). Backing vocalist extraordinaire. One of only two musicians to merit a Jagger Hebrew introduction, the other being…

8. Al Hatupim (On the drums) Charlie Watts. Special treatment because, two days earlier, Jagger told us, it had been Charlie’s…

9. Yom Huledet (Birthday)! The audience responded with a raucous Hebrew rendition of “Happy Birthday” and the usually inscrutable drummer smiled, very broadly, like a bashful school kid. He’s 73, by the way.

10. Atem Nehenim? (Are you having a good time?) After a rousing “Gimme Shelter,” you betcha!

11. Atem Kahal Meturaf (You’re a Crazy Audience). A compliment as we neared the end, between “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Brown Sugar.”

12. Layla Tov, Ve’Shalom Tel Aviv (Goodnight and goodbye Tel Aviv). Mick’s final Hebrew utterances as the band disappeared. They reappeared for two encore songs, but the Jagger Hebrew vocabulary had been exhausted, leaving only the eternal question, Did Ronnie Wood buy his sneakers in the market?

David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011) and The Jerusalem Report (1998-2004). He is the author of "Still Life with Bombers" (2004) and "A Little Too Close to God" (2000), and co-author of "Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin (1996).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Israeli Couple Gets Engaged with Justin Timberlake; Revealed They're Already Married

TURNS OUT THAT THE ISRAELI COUPLE that got engaged to be married after having Justin Timberlake take a selfie photo with them was already married.

Last night at the Justin Timberlake's Israel concert at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, Israeli couple Eliran and Ilana Elgozi got Justin Timberlake to pose for a selfie. How did they do it? Eliran Elgozi held up a sign saying he'd propose to his girlfriend if Justin got off stage and posed for a photo with the couple. So Justin Timberlake jumped off the concert stage and took the selfie with the couple's camera. Then Timberlake said, "Now you gotta do it."

With that, Eliran took out a ring and proposed marriage to Ilana. Of course, it was a highlight at the outdoor concert in Tel Aviv attended by over 40,000. Turns out that Eliran Elgozi has already been married to Ilana Elgozi for a couple months.

Was it just a way to get a celeb selfie with Justin Timberlake? Eliran Elgozi explained in a post on Facebook, retold in an article in The Times of Israel, that it was not simply a ploy to get attention and a picture, but a much-deserved romantic gesture to his wife.

Justin Timberlake on stage in Tel Aviv, Israel 2014
Elgozi said, “Anybody who knows us knows that we have traveled a path that hasn’t been so short or easy,” he wrote. “Our first marriages were not so great (to say the least), and our wedding — how shall we say, everything that could have gone wrong did. We were not sad. Anybody who knows us knows that we always try to make the best out of what we have. And thank to our amazing friends we managed to have something modest, [albeit] far from the dream wedding of the bride. There was a feeling of loss in the air.”

Here's the video of Justin Timberlake taking the selfie with the Israeli couple at the Tel Aviv concert:

He recounted that after the wedding, he promised himself that he would make up for the less-than-spectacular nuptials and show his wife, who had stood beside him when he “slept on a mattress, didn’t have a shekel for a cucumber and didn’t leave him when he was alone and had no family,” how much she meant to him. Eliran began to formulate the plan after his wife bought the tickets for right in front of the stage.

"Luckily Justin is an amazing guy… and helped me do it the right way this time,” Eliran wrote. “It was even more than I could have imagined."

Even though it wasn't a legitimate marriage proposal, it made for a great moment at the Justin Timberlake Tel Aviv concert and Justin will probably never know the difference.

Rabbi Jason Miller, a co-founder of, is an educator, entrepreneur and blogger. He also writes the Jewish Techs blog. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sarah Silverman Talks About Brother-in-Law Yossi Abramowitz's Run for Israel's President on the View

ON A RECENT EPISODE of The View, Sarah Silverman came out and discussed her role in the new movie "A Million Ways to Die in the West."

Not only did she discuss her boyfriend, the Welsh actor Michael Sheen, but she also talked about her brother-in-law Yossi Abramowitz's run for President of Israel.

Yossi Abramowitz is married to Sarah Silverman's sister Susan, who is a Reform rabbi. The Abramowitz-Silverman family lives in Israel.When guest host Margaret Hoover mentioned that Sarah Silverman's sister is an Orthodox rabbi, Sarah didn't correct her.

According to an article in JTA, "American-born solar energy entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz is running for president of Israel.
Abramowitz, 50, the CEO of Energiya Global Capital, a Jerusalem-based solar developer, announced his candidacy in a column published Thursday in the Jerusalem Post.

Sarah Silverman with ex-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel and her sister Rabbi Susan Silverman and brother-in-law Yossi Abramowitz
Sarah Silverman with ex-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel and
her sister Rabbi Susan Silverman and brother-in-law Yossi Abramowitz

“President Shimon Peres has done great things. To continue this momentum, Israel must field a President who embodies innovation and the ‘Start-Up Nation,’ a president who will foster hope and a bright future for the younger generations who are desperately seeking social and economic stability,” Abramowitz said in a statement. “I would lead government development to promote an investment-friendly climate.  I would strive to improve Israel’s standing in the global arena and embrace the strengthening of pluralism among all Israelis.”

Abramowitz is credited with co-founding the Israeli solar industry. He made aliyah in 2006.
Other candidates include Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Silvan Shalom of the Likud party; Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of the Labor party; Nobel Prize laureate Dan Shechtman; Meir Sheetrit of Hatnua; and former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner.

A candidate must have 10 nominations from Knesset members to run for the position. The president is elected in a secret ballot by the Knesset and must have an absolute majority of the votes.

Here's the clip of Sarah Silverman on The View:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Seth Meyers Isn't Jewish But Gets a Yarmulke

SETH MEYERS TOOK A COUPLE MINUTES of his late night television show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, to explain that Seth Meyers is not Jewish. Why did he do this? Well, it turns out that a guest on the show the night before presented Meyers with a Montreal Expos kippah (yarmulke) thinking that the talk show host and former Saturday Night Live star was Jewish (video below).

So, Meyers had an intimate 2-minute monologue while seated behind his desk in which he explained that while his paternal grandfather was Jewish (hence the Jewish surname), he is not Jewish. Meyers then went on to say that every Jewish person thinks that he's Jewish because of the last name, the face and basically everything about him.

Meyers talked personally about his Jewish wife, Alexi Ashe, whom he married under a chuppah last year and his Jewish in-laws who were initially disappointed to learn he wasn't Jewish when he was dating their daughter. Today, Meyers says he observes Passover with his wife's family and considers himself Jew-ish ("it's the only religion that has 'ish' at the end of its name!). He jokingly explained that he doesn't like to tell Jewish people that he's not Jewish because that sounds like something you'd say to get membership into a 1950s country club.

Seth Meyers and his Jewish wife Alexi Ashe (Wiki Commons)

Meyers promised to wear the Montreal Expos kippah at next year's Passover seder... until his wife tells him to take that off because it looks ridiculous.

Rabbi Jason Miller is the co-founder of the blog and a rabbi, educator and blogger who lives in Detroit, Michigan with his wife and three children. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @RabbiJason.

Donald Sterling and Adam Silver - Jew vs. Jew

BY NOW THE ENTIRE WORLD knows that Donald Sterling, a Jew, and owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, holds racist opinions of African-Americans. What you might not know is that the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, is also Jewish. Following Silver’s prepared statements in which he announced that Sterling was banned for life from any association with the NBA, I heard this question from one of the journalists:

POPJEWISH-Rabbi Josh Hess (Orthodox)
"I'm curious -- you spoke about your personal response to this. In terms of Donald Sterling self-identifying as Jewish and you doing the same, as well, I'm wondering whether there was a specific kind of pain associated with that for you and if you felt a certain responsibility within the Jewish community to be responding to this in this way?"

I was taken aback. Why did the journalist feel the need to turn this into a Jewish issue?  Leave us out if for once! We've got enough problems to deal with. On the other hand, I felt a sense a pride knowing that at this seminal moment in NBA and American history, a Jewish commissioner was responsible for reprimanding a Jewish owner for his discriminatory views. Perhaps the listening audience was unaware of this. Turns out that the journalist who asked the question, Howard Megdal, is also Jewish. Silver responded beautifully:

"I think my response was as a human being, and I used the word distraught before. I spoke on Saturday morning directly to Chris Paul, to Doc Rivers, and it wasn't even anger at that point. I mean, there was a certain somberness, and frankly, I felt sort of most strongly and personally for that team. While this affects every player and anyone associated with the NBA family, for those players and those coaches to go out and do what they need to do and play at the highest level in the world and have this hanging over themI think caused me to have a certain sadness, I would say, about the entire situation. I think this is regardless of anyone's religion, ethnicity, nationality. I think this is incredibly hurtful."

LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Together
LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver