Rebecca Rubin, a young Jewish Russian immigrant girl living on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1914, is the latest addition to the lineup of historical character dolls from American Girl. Commenting on the doll’s immaculate appearance, Jewlicious poked fun at the attempted historical accuracy, writing: “apparently the tenements in 1914 had meticulous hairdressers and Jews that were easily distinguishable from their goy brethren by the Ethnic Shawl.” The dolls come with a series of books that tell their story, and apparently the dream of young people in New York City in 1914 was no different then the dream still carried by many today, as Rebecca dreams of becoming an actress.
The goal of the company, wrote the New York Times, is “that no one be offended and that Jewish and non-Jewish little girls alike will want to play tenement house with their new toy, which costs $95 — plus more for accessories like a sideboard with a challah resting on it.” So it should be noted that not only was executive director of the Anti-Defamation League Abe Foxman not offended, but seemed pleased: “It’s sensitive,” he said. It seems American Girl has succeeded in their effort not to offend, even though some people can’t resist having a little fun with the news. Twitter user thedcc thought some current realities might also serve a purpose in Rebecca’s story, adding that: “it would be better if the granddaughter of the AmericanGirl doll moves to the LES & pays too much for a small room.” We’d like to hear the Tenement Museum’s take on all this.
On April 16 at 92YTribeca, the “Young Friends” of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity held their first event, a benefit cocktail party where Mr. Wiesel presented and honored Natalie Portman with an award for her work and support on behalf of the Foundation, which was established soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace. The Foundation’s mission, rooted in the memory of the Holocaust, is to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality.
Last September, Heeb magazine raved about Arie Kaplan’s From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books, a 2008 National Jewish Book Award Finalist and 2009 Sophie Brody Honor Book. They called it “essential for any comic book nerd, but is also a good read for anyone who is interested in the Jewish role in the creation of American popular culture.” Arie definitely has comic chops. In addition to being a MAD Magazine writer, his credits include the comic book miniseries Speed Racer: Chronicles of the Racer, the DC title Cartoon Network Action Pack, the Bongo Comics anthology Simpsons Winter Wingding and the Papercutz series Tales From the Crypt. Heeb followed up with an interview, excerpted below:
Which Jewish comic book legends did you interview for your book? A number of them—Stan Lee, Art Spiegelman, Joe Kubert, Will Eisner, Al Jaffee, Chris Claremont (who many don’t realize is Jewish), Trina Robbins, Drew Friedman—I tried to cover different ages and genres.
Was it intimidating talking to some of these people? Not really, mainly because I’d already done some work writing for tv and film, and I’d learned not to be intimidated by big names. Once, when I was driving with my father, I got a call from Stan Lee, when it was done, and I told him who it was, he looked like a deer caught in the headlight, saying ‘But you were so nonchalant with him.’ I told him: ‘Dad, he’s a person, he wants to be treated like one.’ But I will say when I started writing for Mad, and I went to the Christmas party in this distinguished old social club, the Society of Illustrators, and there’s Mort Drucker and Al Jaffee, that was intimidating. Those guys had such an influence on me—this wasn’t like interviewing NSYNC for Bop Magazine—which I did. These guys mattered to me.
Lots more media coverage of the book can be found here, here and here. But if you’re looking for Arie Kaplan, you can find him here (as in 92YTribeca here) this Friday for Shabbat dinner where he’ll be talking about the book, latest trends within the comic book industry and giving away great comic book swag.
This picture of Matt Selman, who has written for Seinfeld and The Simpsons, dressed as “Jewverine” for Halloween has been making the rounds on the Internet since he published it last fall on Time magazine’s Nerd World blog. On the Wolverine parody, he writes:
Dudes loved the costume. No explanation necessary. “JEWVERINE!!!” “Menorah claws!!!” Triumph. Full joke Halloween costume.
Girls, not as much.
“Hey, it’s Super Jew!”
“No – it’s Jewverine!”
“Forget it. Happy Halloween.”
If we look into the first book of Exodus, we will see that the Jewish women of this generation were a miraculous bunch powered by an endless supply of chutzpah and bravery. Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Miriam, Moses’ older sister, were the founding members of this group. Both Yocheved and Miriam refused to submit to Pharaoh’s decree calling for all Hebrew slaves to throw their newborn baby sons into the Nile. Yocheved, helped by Miriam’s watchful eye, defies Pharaoh and his genocidal proclamations by successfully guiding Moses to safety. During this make or break moment, the women “network” with a most unlikely connection, the daughter of Pharaoh and princess of Egypt, called Batya by our rabbis. As it reads in our Torah, Pharaoh’s daughter becomes Moses’ adoptive mother during his early childhood. Without Yocheved, Miriam, and Batya’s efforts, it is doubtful that Moses, the eventual redeemer of the Jewish people, would have survived.Another renegade faction of the Exodus generation was Shiprah and Puah, the midwives who appear in the early parts of Exodus. These daring women enabled other Hebrew women to save their babies and protected the Hebrew women from Pharaoh’s retribution. We witness the women’s crafty manipulation of Pharaoh during their conversation with an irate Pharaoh, who is baffled by the high survival rates of the Jewish babies. The midwives put their lives on the line by taking the blame for the new births in the Hebrew community, “And the midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are skilled as midwives; when the midwife has not yet come to them, they have already given birth” (EX 1:19). Interestingly, the rabbis of our Jewish tradition speculate that Shiprah and Puah were really Yocheved and Miriam.
See? The whole post is a lesson in being learned about women in the Exodus generation. You’ll be smarter when you finish reading it.
Speaking of Jewish women, this April 23 the 92nd Street Y will be hosting Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, Jen Taylor Friedman, Dr. Tamar Kamionkowski and Dr. Judith Plaskow for a talk entitled Jewish Women, God and the Next Generation, where they ask what does God mean to Jewish women today? How does our contemporary moment—gendered and generational—affect our understanding of and connection to, the Divine?
Video: Rob Tannenbaum of Good for the Jews on The Today Show this morning
“This is not your father’s Judaism: Jews with an edge and proud of it.” —Baltimore Jewish Times.
“A hilarious musical act. Don’t miss them.” —National Public Radio.
“Like Sarah Silverman and Jon Stewart, this show is wickedly hilarious.” —Village Voice
These are just some of the many positive reviews of Good for the Jews, a hilarious rock duo from NYC who have been profiled on NPR and delighted sold-out audiences from Seattle to Leeds, England. They often perform with Todd Barry (a 92YTribeca fixture), Lisa Loeb, Dave Attell and many others. Mixing music and comedy in an irreverent and unorthodox way, they sing about bar mitzvahs, Passover, Jewish girls and relatives who live in Boca Raton.
JewishDC attended their show a couple of weeks ago and wrote:
“One thing you can definitely say about the boys was that they definitely didn’t shy away from their audience. The houselights were on and off repeatedly as they asked us questions, heckled those of us who were too un-amused or too Christian, and at one point, Tennenbaum climbed over a few rows of chairs in order to serenade an engaged woman with a song about why she wouldn’t go out with him.
Good for the Jews vow: “No songs about dreidels. And no Israeli folk-dancing.”
They will be performing next weekend at 92YTribeca for an unorthodox night of music and comedy. If we did staff picks (oh right, we do) we would definitely highlight this one. You can listen to their music and watch a video of the boys here at GoodForTheJews.net.
Upcoming 92YTribeca events that are also good for the Jews:
Lilit Marcus of Jewcy.com attended last week’s 92YTribeca Shabbat Dinner with openly gay and Jewish R&B artist Ari Gold (pictured) and took the opportunity to interview him.
My favorite song of yours is “Bashert” [see YouTube clip]. I feel like most of your music isn’t necessarily Jewish, but then you did this song which is steeped in Jewish culture. Can you talk a little bit about that?
I understand why you might say that my music isn’t Jewish, but I think it really is. It may not be overt, and it’s certainly not klezmer, but I feel like my Jewishness is intrinsic to everything I do. There’s soul in my voice and in my music. Yes, it may have had to do with the fact that I grew up in the Bronx listening to R&B music, but it also has to do with the soulfulness of the Jewish experience. The song “Bashert” - I’m proud of that song, it’s a love song, and the subtext of the love song is that it’s about another man. I certainly think it’s different to use a Yiddish term to describe the love between two men. Even the concept of having a soulmate - I think that concept has been so heterosexualized.
Oh, and my first girlfriend just asked me to perform this song at her lesbian wedding.
Video info: “On April 4, 1969, the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, the third night of Passover, hundreds of people of varied racial and religious communities gathered in a Black church in the heart of Washington DC to celebrate the original Freedom Seder. For the first time, it intertwined the ancient story of liberation from Pharaoh with the story of Black America’s struggle for liberation, and the liberation of other peoples as well.”
Check out the The Jewish Channel‘s Week in Review video above and pay extra attention around the 2:40 mark when they highlight last week’s Purim Spiel at 92YTribeca. Comedian Seth Herzog breaks it all down for you.
The week of Purim festivities begin at 92YTribeca with our Purim Party ‘09. Perhaps you have seen the spoof video circulating? The New York Times stopped by 92YTribeca for a rehearsal performance of Purim Party ‘09 and spoke to the performers. “‘It’s our Mardi Gras,” actor David Schiller, said during a rehearsal on Thursday night. Seth Herzog, a comedian who plays the villain each year with sketchy panache, exclaimed, “This is the most Jewish thing I do. It’s my High Holy Day.”
“Maybe your mother didn’t sit you down,” they wrote, “in a chocolate-brown, wall-to-wall-carpeted Central Jersey living room and put the Yentl soundtrack LP on the record player until you had every song memorized...But it’s never too late to embrace Babs’ 1983 tour de force about a young Jewish woman who wants to be educated and therefore cross-dresses because societal sexism of the time forbid a woman from studying certain religious texts.
So if you’re a cross-dresser, Talmud-lovin’ Jewess, or a fan of buttah, you should probably head over to 92YTribeca on March 13 for the first-ever Yentl singalong.”
We may or may not be cross dressers, but either way, we agree with Entertainment Weekly’s assessment. We’ll see you there! And in support of Babs struggle for equality in religious training, this is the perfect occasion to bring out your Modern Orthodox Teffilin Barbie.
Directed by: Mitch Magee
Written by: Sheryl Zohn & Rob Kutner
Executive Producer: Stephen Levinson
Co-Executive Producers: Sheryl Zohn & Rob Kutner
Cinematography by: Todd Bieber
Edited by: Todd Bieber
Dan Draperberg - Matthew Walton
Peggy Olstein - Megan Neuringer
Sol Romandel - Jeff Kreisler
Pete Cohen - DC Pierson
Roger Sterning - Eric Slovin
Joan Holowitz - Ellie Kemper
Pavel Kinstein - Shek Baker
Christina - Andree Vermeulen
Netty Draperberg - Amy Sedaris
Client - Doug Nervik
Art: Andrew Lin
Theme song klezmerization: Jesse Novak
Hair Stylist: Jackie Chan
Makeup Artist - Emylou Rodriguez
Special Thanks to:
With apologies to Matthew Weiner