Josh Orlian Really Does Have Talent

After all, the 12-year-old comedian knew how to make Howie Mandel kvell

Josh Orlian performing on 'America's Got Talent.'(YouTube)

Much Jewish ink has been spilled already on Josh Orlian, the 12-year-old yarmulke’d wonder from White Plains, N.Y., who alternately wowed and shocked the judges on America’s Got Talent the other night by performing his stand-up act—you know, the one he performs for his three weirdo friends in the coat room when they’re supposed to be in the children’s service. We’ve heard outrage about his temerity to appear in the vestments of frumness and then tell dirty jokes, how his act was an affront to his parents (although, obviously, one wants to be supportive), and fury at his parents themselves for allowing their son to do such a thing.

I’m not religious and I’m not a parent, so I’m not too bothered by either of these things, and anyone who thinks a yarmulke is some talisman against hormones has never been to a USY convention. But I am a person of the comic persuasion, and, as such, I’m in awe. (more…)

Actress Laverne Cox: I Like Jewish Guys

‘I’d like to think of myself as the nation’s premier black transgender shiksa’

Actress Laverne Cox onstage during the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Laverne Cox is one of the breakout stars of Netflix’s hit show, Orange is the New Black, the second season of which premiered earlier this month on the streaming site. Cox plays Sophia Burset, a transgender woman convicted of credit card fraud who quickly becomes one of the most compelling characters on the show. Cox is transgender in real life, and last month became the first transgender person featured on the cover of Time magazine.

The actress stopped by Chelsea Lately last night to discuss the addictive prison series (if you haven’t finished Season 2 yet, please stop reading this and go watch). But that’s not all they discussed. According to Page Six, Cox told host Chelsea Handler she prefers to date Jewish men. (more…)

Maccabi Tel Aviv Hires New Coach

Assistant coach Guys Goodes gets promoted after David Blatt heads to NBA

Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Guy Goodes. (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

A week after Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach David Blatt announced he would be leaving the team for a job with the NBA, the Israeli basketball team has appointed a new coach. The Jerusalem Post reports that Guy Goodes, who served as Blatt’s assistant coach for four seasons, has been named head coach. Goodes, who was mentored by Blatt, signed a two-year contract with the team.

The 43-year-old also played for Maccabi for eight seasons between 1990 and 1998, retiring in 2004 following an injury ravaged career. He moved straight into coaching, guiding Maccabi Rishon Lezion for two seasons (2004-06) before returning to the yellow-and-blue as an assistant for two years (2006-08). Goodes left Maccabi for the head coaching position at Hapoel Jerusalem in 2008, but was brought back to Nokia Arena in 2010 to work under Blatt.

Maccabi Tel Aviv has been on a roll lately, with an unexpected win at the Euroleague Championship in Milan in May. (more…)

Dov Charney Booted From American Apparel

Clothing company’s CEO and chairman ousted over ‘alleged misconduct’

An American Apparel store front is seen in lower Manhattan August 18, 2010 in New York. (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Dov Charney, the notoriously lecherous founder of American Apparel, has been ousted from his role as chairman and CEO of the popular purveyor of crop tops and neon leggings, BuzzFeed reports. The retailer’s board of directors released a statement citing “an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct” as the reason behind their vote to replace Charney, and plan to fire him “for cause.”

“The board’s decision to replace Mr. Charney grew out of an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct,” the company said in the statement.

“We take no joy in this, but the Board felt it was the right thing to do,” Allan Mayer, one of the directors who will be co-chairman, said in the statement. “Dov Charney created American Apparel, but the Company has grown much larger than any one individual and we are confident that its greatest days are still ahead.”


Gunfire in Jenin as IDF Searches for Teens

Most violent confrontation in the week-long search for three abducted boys

An Israeli soldier conducts a search mission during the sixth day into the search of three missing teenagers June 18, 2014 in Hebron, West Bank. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in Jenin this morning in the most violent confrontation so far in the search for three Israeli teens kidnapped last Thursday while hitchhiking in the West Bank. The AP reports that Israeli soldiers entered the West Bank city of Jenin at 2 a.m., and in response a crowd of 300 Palestinians threw rocks and explosive at the troops, who then responded with live fire. Seven people were being treated for light injuries at the Jenin hospital.

Israeli forces arrested 30 Palestinians in the Jenin raid, which, according to Reuters, brings the number of Palestinians arrested in the week-long search to 280 (200 are believed to be members of Hamas). (more…)

Jewish 12-Year-Old Shocks Reality TV Judges

Aspiring comedian Josh Orlian delivers dirty jokes on America’s Got Talent

Josh Orlian performing on 'America's Got Talent.' (YouTube)

A few months ago, Tina and Joey Orlian of White Plains, N.Y., received the Parents of the Year award from Westchester Hebrew High School, where their son Jeremy is a student. Last night, the Orlians were seen cheering on another of their sons, 12-year-old Josh, who made his yarmulke-clad stand-up comedy debut on America’s Got Talent. Despite Josh’s young age, his set consisted entirely of explicit jokes about male genitalia—dick jokes, I think the kids call them. And just like that, judges Howard Stern (obviously) and Howie Mandel buzzed Josh through to the next round of the popular reality TV competition.

While Josh’s delivery could use some work—primetime is nerve-wracking, after all—and the jokes themselves weren’t the funniest I’ve ever heard (and I enjoy a good dirty joke as much as the next nice Jewish girl), the most notable element of Josh’s performance might have been the vociferous response it inspired on social media and in the Jewish blogosphere. The reactions were swift and nearly universal in their condemnation of Josh and his parents for committing an obvious chillul Hashem, or a desecration of God’s name. (While a chillul Hashem doesn’t always violate Torah law, it certainly isn’t in its spirit.) (more…)

‘Britain’s Schindler’ to Receive Czech Honor

Sir Nicholas Winton saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Nazis

Sir Nicholas Winton, who arranged for more than 650 children to leave Nazi Germany between March and September 1939, at the Prague premiere of 'Nicky's Family' on January 20, 2011.(MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Between March and September 1939, British stockbroker Nicholas Winton saved more than 650 children, most of them Jewish, by arranging kindertransports from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovkia to the United Kingdom. Winton, the London-born son of German Jews, was moved to action after visiting Prague in December 1938 and seeing firsthand the worsening conditions for the country’s Jews. The undertaking often required falsifying documents or bribing officials, but Winton managed to orchestrate eight transports of children to the U.K. by the time World War II broke out in September 1939.

The children spared the fates that befell their families and friends during the Holocaust didn’t know who their benefactor was, as Winton never publicized his actions. It wasn’t until a BBC television special in 1989 invited an unsuspecting Winton to the studio that the now-grown children saved on Winton’s transports were able to thank him in person. (A documentary about Winton, Nicky’s Family, was released in 2011.)

Now the 105-year-old, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, is being properly thanked by the Czech Republic. (more…)

Bas Relief Depicts Circumcision in Ancient Egypt

Relic from 2400 BCE  believed to be the oldest illustration of the ritual

(Open Culture)

Male circumcision, particularly the Jewish ritual performed on week-old Jewish newborns known as a bris, has become in recent years a hotly debated practice, with proposed bans popping up across Europe and advocates, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, speaking out for and against the ancient ritual.

Just how ancient are we talking? (more…)

Fake Jerusalem Beach Gets Heated Response

Local ultra-Orthodox rabbi calls the new outdoor offering an ‘abomination’


An artificial beach opened last weekend in a restored train station complex in Jerusalem, drawing crowds of residents excited for a reprieve from the oppressive summer heat. The new addition to First Station—which also features restaurants, bars, and cafes, all of which remain open during Shabbat—has angered ultra-Orthodox locals, who object to both the beach’s un-kosher hours and potential for immodesty. According to Religion News Service, ultra-Orthodox rabbis lodged a complaint with city council arguing that “the beach will encourage unseemly behavior and desecration of the Jewish Sabbath.” (A surfing simulator is reportedly opening soon on the site.)

Haaretz reports that ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem rabbi Moshe Sternbuch went so far as calling the new recreational offering an “abomination, unheard of, where they frighteningly violate the sanctity of the Holy City.” (more…)

89-Year-Old Suspected Auschwitz Guard Arrested

Johann Breyer immigrated to the United States in 1952, lives in Philadelphia

The railway tracks leading to the main gates at Auschwitz II - Birkenau seen December 10, 2004. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

U.S. authorities have arrested Johann Breyer, an 89-year-old suspected former guard at Auschwitz and Buchenwald currently living in Philadelphia, the New York Times reports. He has been charged with 158 counts of complicity in the commission of murder. The arrest is part of renewed German efforts to identify and arrest former Nazi guards, most of whom are now in their eighties and nineties—and an acknowledgment that time is very quickly running out to hold those responsible for Nazi crimes accountable in court. Germany is attempting to have Breyer extradited to Germany, where he would face trial.

Johann Breyer, a retired tool maker born in Czechoslovakia, is the oldest person ever accused of ties to the Third Reich by United States authorities who for decades have hunted for Nazis who escaped to America after the war. Mr. Breyer is accused of joining the Waffen SS at age 17 and working as a guard at the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. (more…)

IDF Arrests Palestinians Released in Shalit Deal

51 Palestinians freed in 2011 among 240 arrested in search for missing teens

Israeli soldiers from a special army unit take part in a search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

The massive search for three Israeli teens kidnapped last Thursday in the West Bank continues, with Israeli forces arresting a total of 240 Palestinians over the past few days in what they’re calling a large-scale crackdown on Hamas. Of the 65 Palestinians arrested in an overnight raid last night, JTA reports, were 51 former prisoners who were among the more than 1,000 Palestinians released as part of Israel’s controversial 2011 deal to free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for more than five years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement calling the arrests an “important message” for Hamas.

“The activities of the IDF and the Shin Bet last night, during which Hamas terrorists released in the agreement for the return of Gilad Shalit were arrested, send an important message and are a critical component in a series of operations whose purpose is to return the kidnapped boys, and damage Hamas’s infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.”


Lack of Yiddish Translators Derails Bribery Case

Judge declares mistrial in corruption case against New York State Senator

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announces federal corruption charges against New York State Senator Malcolm Smith and New York City Council member Daniel Halloran at a press conference April 2, 2013 in New York. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

In a surprising development, a federal judge has declared a mistrial in the ongoing corruption case against New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, the New York Times reports. Smith, a Queens Democrat, faced charges of bribing local Republican leaders to support a 2013 run for mayor as a Republican.

The judge approved the defense’s motion for a mistrial in both cases after several jurors on the case were unable to continue to serve on the jury through the middle of next month—the amount of time required for the translation of 300 wiretapped phone conversations (28 hours!) in Yiddish, which the government recently released and which Smith’s lawyers argued were pivotal to their client’s defense. Government prosecutors, meanwhile, called the tapes “completely innocent.” (more…)

Lemur at Israeli Zoo Predicts World Cup Winners

Max, a red-ruffed lemur, has gotten 7 of his 12 guesses correct so far

A different red-ruffed lemur, who might not even like soccer at all. (Shutterstock)

The 2014 World Cup is underway in Brazil, which here in New York means soccer fans crowding sports bars at night and computer monitors by day, jersey-clad subway riders cursing weak cell phone signals while refreshing their smartphone livestream, and the occasional shouting of “GGGGOOOOAAAALLLL!” from an apartment/office/cubicle down the hall. It also means quirky, heartwarming stories about animals who successfully predict winning teams.

The bar is set pretty high for animal oracles ever since Paul the Octopus correctly predicted the 2012 World Cup winner. (Paul died several months later at two-and-a-half years old, which Wikipedia says is a normal life span for an octopus, and was memorialized in today’s World Cup-themed Google Doodle.) But the Jerusalem Post reports on a new contender for the preternatural throne: a red-ruffed lemur in Tel Aviv named Max. (more…)

‘I’m More Jewish Than You Think I Am’

Texas Governor Rick Perry boasts Semitic street cred at Los Angeles deli

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Rick Perry, the Texas governor and Republican presidential hopeful, is known for his staunch support of Israel. His approval of 2011 legislation that codified the right for a Texas home to display a mezuzah up to 24 inches long inspired a massive Rick Perry Mezuzah that sells for $999. Now, Perry has taken things a few steps further, sitting down with The Town author Mark Leibovich at a Los Angeles deli and telling him he’s more Jewish than the (Jewish) politics reporter might expect. (more…)

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: The Musical?

A 28-year-old Broadway actress takes on an unexpected new project

Footbridge over Chłodna St. in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1942. (Wikimedia Commons)

One would be forgiven, upon hearing the words “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” and “musical,” for cringing—or at least cocking an eyebrow.

But Haley Swindal, the non-Jewish granddaughter of former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, is on a quest to bring Warsaw: A Musical Drama to Broadway audiences. The 28-year-old Broadway actress first encountered the show, written by William Wade with lyrics by John Atkins, when she was cast in it. The show had been performed in abbreviated form as a concert in synagogues, churches, and theaters, and on this past Tuesday, at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater as an industry concert Swindal hoped would showcase “how special this piece is and how special the story is of these heroes” to the New York theater community. (more…)

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