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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 25, 2005 / 16 Adar I, 5764

Jewz in the Newz

By Nate Bloom


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Jews at the Big "O"

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | This isn't a huge Jewish year at the Oscars. There's aren't an especially large amount of Jewish nominees or a big "Jewish themed" picture, like "The Pianist," to draw attention to the always important Hollywood Jewish community. As a matter of fact, this is the year of the black performer, with black actors and actresses snaring five acting category nominations.

It is somehow fitting, then, that first Jewish "person of color" to get an Oscar nomination, actress Sophie Okonedo, 33, is among the nominees. Okonedo, a respected English stage actress, was nominated for best supporting actress for "The Hotel Rwanda," about the 1994 genocidal massacre of Rwandan Tutsis by their Hutu countrymen. Okonedo is daughter of a 'white' British Jewish mother (who raised her) and a Nigerian father. (It's nice to note that she wore a lovely Star of David while on David Letterman's show last month).

She told Newsweek that she grew up in public housing and that in their small apartment they had a big bookcase with tons of books. One day, Okonedo said, a housing project inspector, assuming that poor people don't read, said to her mother, "What do you do with all those books?' Well, the actress said, her mother recently called her and said, "Well, that bloke knows what we did with the books now."

The parallels with the Jewish Shoah were on the minds of many who helped make the film---from Okonedo, who told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal that she went to the Belgian Shoah museum to help research her role; to the Israel Bank Leumi--which helped finance the film; to Jewish executive producers Hal Sadoff and Martin Katz.

Competing with Okonedo is Natalie Portman, 24, who first gained fame at age 14 in "Star Wars----The Phantom Menace." The pretty actress is nominated for playing a stripper in famous Jewish director Mike Nichols' film, "Closer" (from the play by Jewish playwright Patrick Marber). Unlike many other others who became stars at a young age, Portman has not let fame go to her head and she has--dare we say?--been a role model.

Portman's parents are both the children of Holocaust survivors and Natalie was born in Jerusalem to an Israeli-father and an American mother. She grew up in the New York area and was discovered by a model's agent at age 11.

Portman arranged to film her last two Star Wars pictures during her breaks from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she defended Israel from charges of racism with eloquent letters to the University paper. In 2003, she graduated with honors. During the past year she has studied at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

Also in the the past year, Portman scored a major critical and box-office hit with "Garden State," co-starring (Jewish actor) Zach Braff. Braff, who wrote and directed the film, says it probably would not have been made without Portman. He wrote her a personal letter and they met after she read the script. She liked the script and signed on for a modest salary. Braff could then get financing since he had a "name actress" attached to the project.

Portman's next film is "The Free Zone," now being filmed in Israel and directed by the famous Israeli Amos Gitai. She plays an American Jew in the film and speaks in both Hebrew and English (the actress is fluent in Hebrew).

While no other Jews are nominated for an Oscar in acting, four flicks directed by Jews produced acting nominees this year---Hungarian Jewish director Istavan Szabo (Annette Benning, "Being Julia"); Joshua Marston (Catalina Moreno, "Maria Full of Grace"); Michael Mann (Jamie Foxx, "Collateral"); and Brit Mike Leigh (Imelda Staunton, "Vera Drake").

Leigh scored an Oscar nomination for best director for "Vera Drake," a gritty, but not preachy film about an abortionist in 1950s England, when abortion was illegal. He is also up for a screenwriting Oscar for "Vera Drake." Leigh's best known film, "Secrets and Lies," won him a directing nomination in 1996. (Earlier this month, Leigh won the British equivalent of the director's Oscar for "Vera Drake").

Even though his father was a doctor, Leigh grew up in a working class area and his films depict the lives of England's common people. When he was a young man he was involved in a Labor Zionist group, but in later life he has drifted away from any formal ties to the Jewish community.

Also nominated for best screenplay is Charlie Kaufman, who wrote "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." The Long-Island raised Kaufman describes himself as having a 'normal' Jewish upbringing. "Eternal Sunshine," like Kaufman's other Oscar nominated scripts ("Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation"), is distinctive in that it explores the inner mind of characters via a dream-like logic that somehow makes sense.

Thank Michael Moore for at least one thing: people are now paying more attention to documentaries.

Competing for the best short documentary award is "Sister Rose's Passion," a riveting film about an elderly New Jersey nun who has battled anti-Semitism for decades and was instrumental in reforming the Catholic church's teachings about Jews. The Oscar-nominated director is Oren Jacoby, who says that making this film brought him closer to his Jewish side. (His filmmaker father is Jewish and was nominated 46 years ago in the same category).

Over in the best long documentary category is "Born into Brothels," about the children of Calcutta prostitutes. The director is Zana Briski, whose Iraqi Jewish mother now lives in Israel. Briski's Oscar co-nominee Ross Kaufman, the film's co-producer and co-photographer, is also Jewish. Briski, we should add, didn't just film her subjects---she taught the children photography and worked to get them into boarding schools.

The music categories are "Jewish light" this year, with just two Jewish nominees. One is the very cool Jew---rocker Adam Duritz of "Counting Crows" fame. Duritz co-wrote the song, "Accidentally in Love" from "Shrek 2."

Competing with Duritz is Jorge Drexler, a composer/singer who was born in Uruguay to Polish Jewish parents and now lives in Spain. Drexler, who is far better known in the Spanish-speaking world, performs his Oscar-nominated song 'Al Otro Lado del Rio' or "On the Other Side of the River" in the film "The Motorcycle Diaries." Interestingly, Drexler is also a medical doctor, has lived in Israel, and a number of his songs are on Jewish-related themes.

Already an Oscar winner is David Samuelson, a British film exec who co-invented a camera-mounting device that has revolutionized filmmaking. Samuelson, 80, got the news that he was getting a technical Oscar not long after he celebrated his bar mitzvah. You see when Samuelson was a boy he attended a synagogue with a very strict rabbi. So strict that he barred Samuelson from the synagogue when he found out the boy had taken a train on the Sabbath---even though Samuelson took the train to avoid being late for services. Until last year, the Oscar winner didn't know he could have a bar mitzvah celebration at any age.

Likewise, already sure of their awards are director Sidney Lumet and film executive Roger Mayer. Lumet, 80, is being honored with a lifetime achievement Oscar. While this son of a Yiddish-theater actor is most famous for huge hits like "Dog Day Afternoon" and "12 Angry Men," Lumet also made "The Pawnbroker," still one of the most gripping Holocaust films and "Bye, Bye, Braverman," a little-known comedic gem about Jewish intellectuals. Lumet will discuss "The Pawnbroker" in the AMC cable documentary, "Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust," premiering April 5.

Mayer, who is president of Turner Entertainment, will receive the humanitarian award. His philanthropy includes film charities and the United Jewish Welfare Fund.

We should mention Oscar show director Gil Cates, a nice Jewish guy who many say is taking quite a chance by picking the sometimes acid-tongued black comedian Chris Rock to host the Oscars this year. The director, who is the uncle of actress Phoebe Cates, says the reason is simple, "Chris Rock is funny."

Finally, it is likely that Jamie Foxx will win the best actor Oscar for "Ray," about the life of singer Ray Charles. It's great to see the legendary singer being rediscovered by a new generation. One fact about Charles that isn't in the film is his decades long committment to supporting the State of Israel. While Charles was generally quiet about his philanthropy, he was proud to mention his support of Israel. This included touring Israel--where he met with then Prime Minister Ben Gurion---and being named B'Nai Brith "Man of the Year."

The Oscars will be on February 27th, ABC.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Nate Bloom is also the editor of www.Jewhoo.com, a web site that covers famous Jews in the arts, sports, and sciences. A long planned overhaul of the site will begin in the not-too-distant future. This may include a name change. Due to a technical problem, we cannot now directly link to Jewhoo, so just enter the address as written above in your browser window and press "go". You can read Nate Bloom's column on Jewish celebrities in the Baltimore Jewish Times, the Detroit Jewish News, and JWeekly, the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish paper.

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© 2005, Nate Bloom