Was Leonard Cohen A Zionist?

Posted on July 17th, 2017
Matthew Gindin for The Forward


The short answer is no. He was a mensch, not to say the two things are mutually exclusive.

The long answer follows.

On May 21st, a celebratory concert in Israel for Yom Yerushalayim featured an English-Hebrew rendition of “Hallelujah,” by far Leonard Cohen’s most misused song (if you don’t count the millions of questionable hook-ups spurred by some dude with a guitar singing “Suzanne”).

Some were not happy with this. Mondoweiss said the song was being used as “an anthem of Jewish exclusivists.” The article claimed (probably wrongly) that Cohen would have approved, mostly on the basis of Cohen’s 1973 visit to Israel during the Yom Kippur war, where he toured Israel with the troops cheering them with his presence and his music.


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Kirk Douglas: How the 100-year-old found true love

Posted on July 10th, 2017
By Tom Tugend for JTA

When movie star Kirk Douglas married Anne Buydens in Las Vegas, the justice of the peace asked Anne to raise her hand and repeat after him, “I take thee, Kirk, for my lawful husband.”

Anne, who had recently arrived in the United States from Europe, raised her hand and proudly proclaimed, “I take thee, Kirk, as my AWFUL husband.”

At the time, the mispronunciation was not too far off the mark. In Hollywood, the handsome, muscular actor was already notorious for his inflated ego and the endless parade of women — from movie queens to casual pickups — whom he bedded at a record pace.

Four years later, in 1958, Kirk was away shooting a movie when he wrote to his wife, “If I live to be 100, there will still be so many things unsaid.”

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The Secret Jewish History Of James Bond

Posted on July 3rd, 2017
Seth Rogovoy for The Forward


It’s hard to imagine anyone less Jewish — or more goyish — than James Bond: He of the shaken-not-stirred-martinis; he who serially beds the blond, buxom “Bond girls”; he who drives the latest, fastest, gadget-equipped sports car. He may be the hero, but he’s no mensch. The United Kingdom newspaper the Daily Mirror recently called the fictional secret agent (and sometimes it’s easy to forget that Bond is an invented character, not a real person) “a British icon as enduring as the Royal Family and the Rolling Stones.”
In fact, Bond was the literary creation of novelist Ian Fleming, a notorious right-winger who, like many Englishmen of his generation, wore his anti-Semitism on his sleeve. Fleming’s books, unlike the much more popular films they spawned, occasionally trade in vulgar and hateful Jewish stereotypes, and whenever a character does seem Jewish, he is always a villain.

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Intimate Voices Solo and Ensemble Music of Jewish Spirit

Posted on June 26th, 2017
Milken Archive of Jewish Music

More intimate, more personal Jewish music — our Virtual Exhibit continues

Our virtual exhibit “Intimate Voices: Solo and Ensemble Music of Jewish Spirit” continues its multimedia exploration of Jewish chamber music, from its roots to its fully mature—and still evolving—art form. Drawing on Jewish traditions, rites and folklore, the included works use the medium to evoke history and push boundaries, all on an intimate scale, all with a personal connection.

Follow this musical journey from Jerusalem to Odessa, with works by:

  • Meyer Kupferman
  • Richard Wernick
  • Samuel Adler
  • Michael Shapiro
  • Leo Ornstein
  • Ofer Ben-Amots
  • Aaron Copland
  • Jan Radzynski

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Tony Award-winner Ben Platt’s journey from Camp Ramah to Broadway

Posted on June 19th, 2017
BY RENEE GHERT-ZAND for The Times of Israel    

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ star credits Conservative Judaism’s camping movement with helping him ‘decide for myself what kind of Jew I would be’

Ben Platt‘s Tony Award for best actor in a leading role in a musical on June 11 probably outstrips winning at color war at Camp Ramah in California. But those victories rank a close second for the openly and actively Jewish 23-year-old star of Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen.”

“Winning color war with the Adom (Red) Team was one of the biggest accomplishments of my whole life… I led Adom to Maccabiah victory… I’m proud of it, so I’m not going to stop talking about it,” Platt said in an interview at an April 2015 Camp Ramah alumni event in New York.

Platt, who grew up in Los Angeles, has performed professionally from age nine, with successes in films such as “Pitch Perfect” and “Pitch Perfect 2,” and on stage in blockbuster shows like “The Book of Mormon.” However, it was his summers at the Jewish summer camp in Ojai, California, through his teen years that in many ways made him the person he is today.

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