The ‘mouth that roared’ is silent, but in her life Rivers gave voice to outsiders and women.
by Joseph Dorinson, published in The Jewish Week, Fri, 09/05/2014
Born in Brooklyn in 1933 to Russian immigrant parents, Dr. Meyer and Beatrice Molinsky, Joan grew up in the shadow of an older sister and with many complexes. “I was so fat; I was my own buddy in camp.” Despite her carefully crafted comic persona, she actually was a brilliant student, a graduate of Barnard College with high honors in 1954.
Ignoring her parents’ pleas, Joan pursued a career as an actress, dancer, and singer. But comedy provided a better fit. A long apprenticeship that included performing in the Catskill hotels (because she had a car and agreed to drive her male peers there and back), a stint with Chicago’s Second City ensemble, many night clubs, and some “toilets” ultimately led to success capped by a brilliant ten minutes on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1965.
Billed as a writer, Rivers, who changed her last name at her agent’s suggestion when she entered show business, was 32 when she vaulted into stardom. Her early shtick, with shades of traditional Jewish humor, featured self-deprecation, especially about her allegedly “ugly duckling” appearance. In fact, before multiple cosmetic surgeries, she was actually quite pretty if not drop-dead gorgeous. For example (from critic Sarah Blacher Cohen’s essay “Unkosher Comediennes”):
“On our wedding night, my husband said: ‘Can I help with the buttons?’ I was naked at the time.”“You’ve heard of A Cup, B Cup and C Cup. Well, you’re looking at demitasse.”“Dress by Oscar de la Rental; body by Oscar Meyer.”
Singing and sharing a meal together is a universal joy. A new program coming to Brooklyn Heights will celebrate song cuisine and togetherness as it is experienced in Israeli culture.
IAC-Shishi Israeli, a new program of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), will bring together Israeli and American Jews in Brooklyn Heights, fusing their distinct cultures and customs to create a shared community around the Shabbat table.
This new family program, which will run every few weeks at Congregation Mount Sinai, will combine traditional Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) prayers and Israeli shira betzibur (singalong) as well as a traditional Shabbat dinner with Israeli foods, adding authentic Israeli flavor to the evening. The first event will take place on Friday, evening Sept. 12. Tickets are necessary.
IAC-Shishi Israeli seeks to use music to convene the community and enable participants to create a family-inspired Shabbat experience that is both Jewish and unique, combining time-honored traditions with modern rituals. Accomplished musicians, who will make the perfect accompaniment for this special dinner, include Arlene Gould, Daniel Ori, Hadar Noiberg, Dan Aran and Dan Nadel.
Rabbi Seth Wax of Congregation Mount Sinai said in a trailer video introducing the event, “Congregation Mt. Sinai welcomes people of lots of different backgrounds, and wants people to feel like they have a home.” He added, “Share food, music, culture; and build relationships.”
Welcoming the overflow crowd at the Jan Karski Humanitarian Award 2014 ceremony at the Polish Consulate honoring Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, and Polish rescuer Irena Sendler, was consul general Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka who thanked members of the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee — Polish American Congress, the N.Y. Downstate Division and the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee — for their dedication to their noble mission.”
Addressing an assemblage that included a sizeable number of Polish-Jewish survivors, cantor Joseph Malovany and the Forward’s publisher Samuel Norich, the consul thanked The Committee — whose members are predominantly Catholic priests and rabbis — “for their dedication to their noble mission” and amplified that “the Jan Karski Humanitarian Award ceremony is a perfect example of fruitful cooperation between Polish diaspora organizations on the one hand and American-Jewish organizations on the other.” She noted that “Pope John Paul II, who visited a synagogue in Rome and prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, considered anti-Semitism a sin and called the Jews…’Christians’ brothers-in faith,’ During his papacy he encouraged a very difficult Polish-Jewish dialogue” believing that “this dialogue was necessary to overcome stereotypes and prejudices.”
Polish Children’s Choir, Consul General Ziomecka and Rabbi Potasnik // Photo by Masha Leon
Exerted from NYTimes, Oct 3, 2014 In “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food”(Brandeis University Press), Ms. Silver, an accomplished food writer inspired by the replacement of Mrs. Stahl’s knishery in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, by a Subway sandwich shop, explores the origins and evolution of the “pillow of filling tucked into a skin of dough.” Her book brims with nostalgia (including the lyrics to the Samuel J. Tilden High School… Read More »Obsessions, From Street Food to Rooftops
130 years later, some parts of the Jewish community are going through another modernizing shift—but this time, in trendy pop-up restaurants and artisanal craft-food production. With their embrace of sustainable—and slightly hipster—food culture, Millennial Jews are shaping a blossoming culinary movement, and bringing non-Jews along with them.
By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor – Brooklyn Daily Eagle 10/7 Jews around Brooklyn find innovative, fun ways of celebrating the joyful festivals. This year, Brooklyn’s famous amusement park at Coney Island will be transformed into a Sukkot Spectacle. Sukkot is the festival of booths. Taking place in autumn, Sukkot celebrates trust in God and the gathering of community. Luna Park in Coney Island is preparing to host a Sukkot Spectacle… Read More »Luna Park Set to Host Large Sukkot Spectacle
Brooklyn Daily Eagle – Oct. 17, 2014 Remsen St. became a block party on Thursday night as members of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and Congregation B’nai Avraham spilled out onto the street to dance with Torah scrolls. They were celebrating Simchat Torah (or Joy of Torah). Simchat Torah marks the cyclical tradition of reciting the closing verses of Deuteronomy, which is the fifth book of Moses, and then starting over… Read More »VIDEO: Simchat Torah in Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 7 2014 NEW YORK — In this photo provided by Chabad.org, 10 Chabad-Lubavitch teens on “pedi-sukkahs” ride down Fifth Avenue in New York on Monday. The pedi-sukkahs, are modified pedi-cabs with a Sukkah — a hut-like structure covered with bamboo — attached in the back. The goal of the parade is to create awareness for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a seven day,… Read More »Pedi-Sukkah Parade Peddles Through NY
New Brooklyn Museum committed to revealing the unknown stories of heroism and faith that withstood the horrors of the Holocaust.
The joy of Adar abruptly turned to terror on Shabbat morning, 8 Adar, 5703 (February 13, 1943), when German officers stormed the synagogue and threatened to wipe out the entire community.
The Jewish community of Djerba, a sunny island off the Tunisian coast, had flourished for over two millennia, but during the Second World War, Nazi Germany occupied the island, putting the lives of its Jewish population in immediate and grave danger.
The officers demanded from the community an exorbitant bribe of 50 kilograms (110 lbs.) of gold in exchange for the right to live. They warned that if the gold was not handed over within three hours, the community members would all be killed. Rabbi Khalfon Moshe Hakohen, the revered rabbi, immediately instructed the people to bring their gold in order to save the community. The rabbi’s illustrious disciple, Rav Rachamim Hai Havitah Hakohen, broke the wall in his house to take his life’s savings which had been hidden inside the wall. Many others did the same, bringing all the money and jewelry they owned. Still, it was not enough to pay the extortionate bribe.
Seeing there was still a shortfall, Rav Khalfon rode by car – although it was still Shabbat – to the Hara Seghira community in the small Jewish Quarter to collect the outstanding amount. Even the golden bells decorating the Torah scrolls were removed in a desperate attempt to save the Jews’ lives. The Germans collected 42 kilograms of gold, and agreed to give the Jews until Sunday to come up with the balance. On Sunday, the Jews were prepared to deliver an additional eight kilograms, until the joyous news arrived – Allied forces had invaded Tunisia, driving the Nazis out of the country.
The Jews still had the eight kilograms, and they were now faced with the question of how it should be returned. Was it to be distributed proportionately among the community, or should the Hara Seghira receive its portion back in full? This question was addressed by Rav Rahamim Hai Havitah Hakohen in his work Simhat Kohen, where he discusses the halachah in great detail (he ruled that it should be distributed proportionally).
This remarkable story, and the concern for strict compliance with halachic minutiae even under the most trying circumstances, is just one example of how Jews continued to show unwavering loyalty to the Torah during the dark days of the Holocaust.
This heroic fealty to faith during World War II is now being memorialized by a new initiative – the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center (KFHEC), which is set to open in Boro Park next year.