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“The Death of Klinghoffer,” which debuted at New York's Metropolitan Opera on Oct. 20, is a vehicle for tendentious reiteration of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist slurs. But when considered together with two other collaborations between composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, the opera represents something more—an ongoing prejudicial obsession with Jews, writes Myron Kaplan, a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
While this Rosh Hashanah marked the 5775th birthday of the world on the Jewish calendar, one humor-infused Jewish family of seven (including the dog) has a single year down and some serious catching up to do. On Sept. 29, 2013, co-creators Harvey Rachlin and Steven Duquette debuted an apolitical Jewish-themed comic strip, “The Menschkins,” which has been syndicated to Jewish newspapers and websites on a weekly basis by JNS.org. One year later, Rachlin reflects on the creative process. “We wanted to give readers a respite from politics and heavy issues, and to try to get them to smile or chuckle a bit with comics that hold up a mirror to Jewish life,” he says.
Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) television network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “I wanted it to be ‘The Jewish Experience,’” said film educator Eric Goldman, who organized the showcase with TCM producer Gary Freedman. “I wanted a broad sweep—how Israel, the Shoah (Holocaust), prejudice, and anti-Semitism affect Jews.”
Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. America’s first small-screen star, Berle influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “His success came about because early television sets were mostly sold in wealthier urban areas, with Jews and gentile urbanites accustomed to and appreciative of Jewish humor. ... Ironically, it was Berle’s success with those urban audiences that propelled the sales of televisions around the nation,” Lawrence Epstein, author of “The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America,” tells JNS.org.
Twenty years after his October 1994 death, robust accounts of musician Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s life are emerging. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book “Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy.” This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s “The Soul of Jerusalem” hit the shelves. But even the authors admit that this larger-than-life rabbi’s legacy cannot be fully captured in black-and-white pages. “Shlomo did not seem to fit any restrictive, defining label,” Ophir said. “Reb Shlomo was… a charismatic teacher who combined storytelling, sermonic exegesis, and inspirational insights into creating a new form of heartfelt, soulful Judaism filled with a love for all human beings.”
Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. “I can't help but smile and get happy when I hear a frying pan played well,” says Jonas, who also credits his childhood cantor with inspiring his path. “I remember going to synagogue during this time and listening to Cantor Harry Lubin, and being awestruck by the beauty and power of his voice,” he says of the legendary chazzan for synagogues in Chicago and Bethesda, Md.
During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. JNS.org presents a list of such celebrities and some of the brands they have endorsed.