The Washington Post this week reported on the adult bat mitzvah ceremonies of some retired women in their 80’s and 90’s who are residing in a retirement center Four women at the Five Star Premier Residences of Chevy Chase studied for many months in order to celebrate their coming of age by reading from a Torah and giving a speech. Their teacher was Cantor Susan Berkson (pictured above). Sadly, one of the students was unable to attend, but her daughter read the speech she had prepared. They called themselves the “Four Musketeers.”
Canadian-born American newsman Morley Safer, 84, passed away this week, just days after retiring from CBS News and “60 Minutes,” where he worked for nearly five decades. In addition to leading over 900 news broadcasts on 60 Minutes, I once witnessed him serve as a judge for a latka contest on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Safer once said, “I think that a Jewish background does give you a very, very strong sense of doing the right thing.”
Safer was cool under pressure, nearly as much as LL COOL J, who spoke this week to the Los Angeles Jewish Journal at a Beverly Hills fundraiser about his support of The Ulmer Institute, Lip Sync Battle, and his Jewish friends. The Ulmer Institute is named for Faith Central Bible Church Bishop Kenneth Ulmer. It focuses on treating mental health issues, and plans to use methods learned in Israel. Mister Cool J shared stories about his early starts with Rick Rubin, Def Jam, Adam Horovitz [of the Beastie Boys], Lyor Cohen, Glen E. Friedman, and his grandfather in The Bronx who came home with gefilte fish every week. Cool J said, “… I mean, I didn’t like it, no disrespect, but I loved him, it wasn’t my thing, but I always had great Jewish friends, always, they’ve been good to me…”
If you were listening to the BBC this week, you might have heard James Naughtie’s interview with Ann Coulter. Asked about her support of Donald Trump and his views on Mexicans, Muslims, and immigration, Naughtie asked whether Coulter’s stance against immigration would have applied to pre-War Jewish immigration to New York City. Coulter muttered, “Oh God, not the Jews again.” She added that Jews did not overwhelm the United States like – in her opinion – other non ENglish speaking groups did.
Speaking of immigration issues, in the metro Atlanta area of Georgia, DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez is running for re-election. President Barack Obama’s nominated Judge Lopez for the U.S. District Court in 2015. Judge Lopez is Hispanic… Republican… and Jewish. Obama’s nomination was blocked by Senator David Perdue who tainted Lopez with support by association for Latino immigration. But more importantly, they quietly made the issue of his being Jewish. His rival, Roderick Bridges, made sure to mention that Jesus Christ – Lord and Savior – is Bridges’ top supporter. Bridges’ flyers also list that he is a Christian (thumbs up), while Lopez is not (thumbs down). Yes, that is the kind of guy you want to be a county judge.
Judge this… The National, published in the United Arab Emirates, reported this week on the gala opening of The Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, just north of Ramallah. The headline read, “Palestinian Museum Opens Offering Hope But Lacking Exhibits. The New York Times headline read, “Palestinian Museum Set To Open, Empty of Art.” Yes, the museum opened to fanfare, but without exhibits. One show was expected to focus on family belongings that Palestinians left behind, such of house keys from Jaffa. It was called “Never Part.” Another shows that did not get off the ground yet is collections of family photos called :Family Album Project.” Also expected are shows on early PLO posters, land titles from the Ottoman period, and folk arts. Omar al-Quattan who helped build the $24 million museum, said that some organizations build a shell to house their collections, and they built the shell first and will now look to create exhibits. His family and the AM Quattan Foundation are major donors to the project. Luay Khoury, who sits on the museum’s board and was the lead contractor on the construction said that i nhis vision, the museum will not focus on remembrance and the struggle with Israel, as many community elders and politicians expect, but look to the future. Mahmoud Hawari, a specialist in Islamic architecture and art who studied in London, will serve as the museum’s director. He just started work this week, so it may be a year before a show in produced. He replaced Jack Persekian, who quit last year after disagreements with the board and others. Ms. Roisin Heneghan, an architect based in Dublin, led the LEED certified building’s design. No word on whether author Michael Chabon was at the opening gala (smirk).
On the topic of Bad Mitzvahs… Israeli immigrant to Brooklyn, Roy Naim, 32, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for exploiting a child with cancer and possessing child porn. He met the child through a Jewish camp for children with cancer (Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha), where he worked as a counselor and division head. NYC tabloids are also have a fun time this week with additional stories on how there is a continuing U.S. federal investigation into corruption, bribes, handgun permits, and prostitutes between the New York Police Department and an Orthodox volunteer security force (Shomrim / Shmira Civilian Volunteer Patrol of Boro Park, Brooklyn). If this is not enough, tabloids also turned their attention to the Hasidic enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where Section 8 (subsidized, voucher) housing and frauds seem to be peculiarly concentrated.
Speaking of Jamaica… Travel and Leisure magazine profiles a fascinating cemetery in Kingston Jamaica, where one can find over half a dozen headstones in Hebrew with skull and crossbone designs. Perhaps the resting places of Jewish pirates and privateers. Belletrist and journalist Ross Kenneth Urken reports on the “The Forgotten Jewish Pirates of Jamaica” and the Semitic swashbucklers who battled for control of the Caribbean island. More exciting than riding the Hampton Jitney.
The New York Jewish Week reports on the American Jewish Committee and its Muslim outreach projects. Robert SIlverman has been hired to help the AJC stand up for other minorities: Muslims. Silverman, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer who had eight tours in Muslim countries, is fluent in English, Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish.
Maybe he can team up with the maker of this video. Garnering 1.4 million view in the past three weeks is a video by a Youtuber who enjoy dressing up and provoking responses with hidden cameras. In this video, two people dressed as they think a Muslim woman and Hisadic Man would dress walk around NYC and seek reponses or glares.
And the outtakes