Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jean-Claude Van Damme Visits Jerusalem

Jean-Claude Van Damme visited an Israeli kabbalah center for “spiritual guidance” in the wake of last week’s terror attacks in his native Brussels, JTA reported.

The Belgian movie star spent time at the International Center for Tzvat Kabbalah in the city of Safed during a five-day stay in Israel this week, Walla! reported Wednesday.

According to the center’s rabbi, Eyal Reiss, Van Damme studied Torah and the Zohar, the foundational kabbalistic text.

“He told me that after the terror attacks last week in Brussels, the city where he was born and grew up, he was driven to seek spiritual guidance,” Reiss said of the actor, who is sometimes referred to as “The Muscles from Brussels.”

Van Damme — the non-Jewish star of dozens of action films such as “Bloodsport,” Kickboxer” and “Lionheart” — reportedly explored the streets of Safed and visited the city’s historic Abuhav synagogue built in the 15th century. He also visited Tiberias and Jerusalem, where he went to the Western Wall, Jewish Business News reported.

“[H]e understood that problems of a political, economic, social and environmental nature have their solution in ancient spiritualism and the Bible,” Reiss told Walla!

When the martial arts star posted a photo of himself in a cap on Facebook with the caption “Shalom from Jerusalem, Israel!” he faced a wave of angry comments within minutes.



One user said “you should say salam from palestine” and garnered over 1,300 likes. Another said “Jeruzalem is not from Israel But from Palestina” and garnered 854 likes.

Others were more pro-Israel, including one who said “Israel loves u” and garnered over 4,700 likes.

Van Damme subsequently took out the words “Shalom” and “Israel” from the caption, which now reads “Hello from Jerusalem!!”

Monday, February 22, 2016

Drake Performs at a Girl's Bat Mitzvah Party

From JTA.org:

Drake made a surprise appearance at a bat mitzvah in New York City.

The popular Jewish rapper sang and danced with the unnamed girl on Saturday night at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan, according to Stereogum. Several videos of the performance were posted on social media.

Drake performed several songs, including “Back to Back” and “Summer Sixteen” from his upcoming album “Views from the Six” and his portion of a remix of Fetty Wap’s “My Way.” He invited the bat mitzvah to sing with him on his hit “Hotline Bling.”

Drake performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., April 12, 2015. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)


In 2011, Drake charged $250,000 to perform at the bar mitzvah of the son of Jeff Zucker, then the president of NBC Universal.

The rapper, who is nicknamed Drizzy, is the son of a Jewish mother and an African-American father. He attended a Jewish day school in Toronto and had a bar mitzvah. He spoofed his own bar mitzvah on a “Saturday Night Live” episode two years ago.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

LA Lakers Sign Jewish Teen with Brain Cancer to Basketball Contract

The Los Angeles Lakers signed a Jewish teenager with brain cancer to a one-day contract.

Yitzi Teichman of Baltimore signed the one-day contract on Sunday for the team’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was given a jersey with the number 18, which in Hebrew is chai, or life, for the game.

Teichman, 18, is a native of Los Angeles and a lifelong Lakers fan. His opportunity to join the team was facilitated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant talks with Make-A-Wish recipient Yitzi Tiechman before a game against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday at Staples Center. The Lakers signed the teenager to a one-day contract before the game.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant talks with Make-A-Wish recipient Yitzi Tiechman before a game against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday at Staples Center. The Lakers signed the teenager to a one-day contract before the game. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The teen, who had a brain tumor removed several months ago, was joined at the Staples Center arena by his parents and seven siblings.

Teichman told the newspaper that his first word was “Kobe,” referring to the team’s star player, Kobe Bryant. He said that when he was asked by the foundation what he wished for, “It was pretty easy; I want to be a Laker. I didn’t have much of a shot considering my height; so it was either I’ve got to be good at basketball or get cancer. So I went with the cancer route.”

Bryant sent a video of support to Teichman before his surgery, according to NBA.com.

He warmed up with the team but sat on the bench during the game, which the Lakers lost. He received a signed ball and the players’ game shoes as gifts.

The teen, who is undergoing treatment, has been accepted to the University of Maryland and Towson University for next year.

Source: JTA

Friday, November 27, 2015

Marilyn Monroe Was Jewish and Elizabeth Taylor Was Jewish Too?

ADAM SANDLER'S MUCH AWAITED fourth installment of his wildly popular "The Hanukkah Song" was released the other day and it might be his funniest and most creative song about famous Jews yet.

Sandler's production company Happy Madison released the music video of "The Hanukkah Song" on Wednesday and it is a recording of a live performance at the San Diego Civic Theatre on November 18th when he first sang the new version.

In this latest iteration of his celebrity infused Hanukkah song, Sandler includes such celebrities as Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who enjoys eating kugel), Stan Lee, Jake Gyllenhaal, Adam Levine, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ben and Jerry (Ice Cream Magnates), Scarlett Johansson, Shia LaBeouf and even Jared Fogle from the Subway commercials (whom he recommends Dr. Drew can help). The video quickly made its way around the Interwebs as fans shared the YouTube video on Facebook.

Here's the video of Sandler's new version of The Hanukkah Song:


Two deceased celebs whom Adam Sandler didn't include in this rendition of "The Hanukkah Song," but could have are Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. I had long heard rumors that both iconic women had converted to Judaism, but I never confirmed it. Sure enough Marilyn Monroe converted with a Reform rabbi before she married Arthur Miller and Elizabeth Taylor converted in 1959 before marrying husband #4 Eddie Fisher. It turns out that Liz Taylor's 3rd husband, Michael Todd, was the son of an Orthodox rabbi, but Taylor only converted after Todd was killed in a plane crash and she was set to marry Fisher.


I only learned about Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor's conversions to Judaism this week after I was called by Lauren Markoe, a reporter with Religion News Service, asking me for a few comments on the matter. It turns out that the Jewish Museum in New York (under the auspices of The Jewish Theological Seminary) has a new exhibit about the conversions of the two famous women. In the RNS article, Markoe writes, "Collecting letters from their rabbis, images from their Jewish weddings, and a rarely-heard audio recording of Taylor’s conversion ceremony, “Becoming Jewish,” documents the relatively quiet way in which Monroe and Taylor adopted the faith, and what that said about the America that loved them."

CONTINUE READING ON RABBI WITH A BLOG

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ashton Kutcher Marries Mila Kunis in Secret Ceremony

Jewish actress Mila Kunis and longtime fiance Ashton Kutcher reportedly were married in a secret ceremony.

The couple married over the weekend in California, People magazine reported, citing an unnamed source. Their representatives have not commented.

Rumors have circulated in the past that Kunis and Kutcher, an adherent of Kabbalah who reportedly keeps kosher, were secretly married. They had a daughter in October.

HEADLINEPHOTO/SPLASH NEWS ONLINE

The actors met while co-stars on the sitcom “That ’70s Show.”

According to People Magazine online, the couple were already legally married, and that the wedding party served as a low-key gathering to celebrate with close family and friends.

"Surrounded by friends and relatives, the former That '70s Show costars celebrated at the Secret Garden at Parrish Ranch in Oak Glen, California, a secluded spot featuring acres of apple orchards, ponds and botanical gardens. The gated space, according to its website, only recently became available for exclusive weddings and private events.The pair stocked the green grounds – which had been playfully dubbed "Camp KuKu" – with outdoorsy activities, set up among rows of tents serving as a luxe campground for partygoers.

Although the couple have known each other since their early days together on the Fox sitcom, they didn't start dating until 2012. They got engaged in February 2014 and welcomed daughter Wyatt Isabelle, their first child, in October. (This is Kutcher's second marriage. He finalized his divorce from Demi Moore in November 2013.) 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Howard Stern's Daughter's an Orthodox Jew Now

WHO KNEW THAT ONE OF HOWARD STERN'S DAUGHTERS had become an Orthodox Jew? It's true. While Howard Stern and his ex-wife Alison Berns raised their three daughters in the Reform Jewish denomination, their oldest daughter, Emily, is a ba'alat teshuva (one who becomes an observant Jew as an adult).

The country's most famous Radio Shock Jock and one of the judges on "America's Got Talent" has a daughter who has studied in a couple yeshivahs in Manhattan including Drisha and also has studied in Jerusalem. She can quote Talmud and midrashic commentaries.


Emily Stern's path toward Orthodox Judaism and her artistic projects were revealed in a recent podcast of Jew in the City, when Allison Josephs interviewed her over the phone.

Emily Stern explained that while she was majoring in theater at NYU when she randomly walked into a havdalah service at Romemu on the Upper West Side. She was spiritually moved and eventually studied at the Drisha Institue and at Nishmat, a women's seminary in Israel.

Howard Stern's daughter Emily Stern

On the podcast, Josephs' shies away from asking Emily Stern about her famous father although it seems that she wants to do just that. They discuss her art projects, original poetry that is inspired by the Torah and her latest venture is a photography project, "The Wells of Miriam."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Kentucky Derby Winning Horse Named Pharoah Owned by Jews

I LOVE THE CREATIVE, AND OFTEN FUNNY, names given to racehorses. This year's Kentucky Derby had some of the best names yet. The winner, American Pharoah, has an unusual name and is actually a racehorse owned by an Orthodox Jewish father and son team.

52-year-old Ahmed Zayat was raised Jewish in Egypt. Together with his son Justin, he has watched three times as his horse opened a lead coming around the final turn in the Kentucky Derby. This past Saturday, however, was different. Ahmed and Justin Zayat watched their horse win the Kentucky Derby.

Ahmed Zayat emigrated from Egypt to the United States at 16 and earned his Master’s degree at Boston University. His family currently lives in Teaneck, New Jersey and also has homes in Cairo and London.

Zayat made a $500,000 donation to The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey. His fortune was made when he sold his company, Al Ahram Beverages, to Heineken in 2002 for $280 million.

According to NJ.com, As Zayat "sat up at the podium with the victorious jockey and winning trainer of the Kentucky Derby-champion horse he owns, Ahmed Zayat was all smiles. Still basking in the glow from watching American Pharoah live up to the billing as the favorite in the 141st "Run for the Roses'' — and still wet from taking a champagne shower in the post-race ceremony — Zayat said he was "speechless and very emotional.''

"We've been very close,'' the 52-year old Teaneck resident said. "This is one special horse.''

It has been said that Zayat's father was the chief doctor to former Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat.

Thus far, no Orthodox rabbi has come forward to discuss the Jewish legal implications of an Orthodox Jewish man's horse winning the Ketucky Derby, which is always held on Shabbat. The Zayat family was in attendance at Saturday's Derby and collected the prize winnings for Zayat Racing Stables' American Pharoah's first place finish.

american-pharoah-kentucky-derby-winner