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Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters. Best-known for his slapstick humor, Lewis has made arguably as significant of a mark in philanthropy. As former national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he raised more than $2 billion and hosted a Labor Day l telethon for more than 40 years. “I think many people in later years associated [Lewis] much more with the telethon than with his comedy. This work makes a perfect companion to his work as a comedian and shows that laughs by themselves are not enough in life,” said Lawrence Epstein, author of “The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America.”
Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (May 8) formats of his latest album, “Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour,” which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Sharon Robinson, a background singer for decades with Cohen and author of the book “On Tour with Leonard Cohen,” calls Cohen “a thoughtful individual whose Jewish background is very much intact.”
When Irish artist Diana Muller first presented her works in progress—portrait paintings of some of her country’s few remaining Holocaust survivors—to the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin City, museum vice chair Yvonne Altman O’Connor sensed a teachable moment in the making. “We consider it very important to teach about the Holocaust, especially as Irish people were somewhat removed from the experience. [Some even] refer to World War II as ‘the emergency,’” an obvious understatement, O’Connor tells JNS.org. Muller suggested that the museum host a temporary exhibit. Three years after beginning the project, her artwork was unveiled on April 12 at the Irish Jewish Museum as part of a Yom HaShoah event.
With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two major action films coming up in 2015—“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the “Fantastic Four” series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East Side to create the superheroes in “Fantastic Four” and “Captain America.” (The “Captain America” protagonist appears in “The Avengers.”) Born Jacob Kurtzberg to Austrian Jewish immigrants, Jack Kirby became an iconic American comic book artist and writer. But his road to the throne of comics wasn’t an easy one. Experts reflect on Kirby's legacy, and on how his Jewish background influenced his work, in interviews with JNS.org.