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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. 22, 2013 / 12 Adar, 5773

The Oscars: The Jewish Connection

By Nate Bloom







Two Best Actor Nominees and one Supporting One; Spielberg, Zeitlin, and Russell go for Best Director; the Jewish tunesmiths of "Les Miserables;" Screenwriters; Animators, and Documentary Makers

JewishWorldReview.com | OSCAR TIME The Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 24. The ceremony will be telecast, live, on ABC, starting at 7PM EST and 4PM PST (the first hour is red carpet coverage). Below is a list of "confirmed" Jewish nominees in the non-technical categories. Oscar-winner BARBRA STREISAND, 70, will sing at this year's Oscars ceremony. It's believed she'll sing a medley of songs from her films and almost certainly she'll pay tribute to composer MARVIN HAMLISCH, who died last August. He worked closely with Streisand from the late '60s on, both as her sometime musical director and as the composer of Streisand hits like "The Way We Were."

Hamlisch was, by all accounts, an immensely likable guy whose friends spanned most cultural and political divides. For example, after his death, scores of public messages of condolence poured in from celebrities, including ones from Bill Clinton and Nancy Reagan.

ACTING CATEGORIES Best actor: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, 55, "Lincoln"; and JOAQUIN PHOENIX, 38, "The Master." These two actors are the sons of Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers; both are secular as adults; and, to be frank, their Jewish ties are not a significant part of their lives.

Day-Lewis is the bookmakers' favorite to win this year's Oscar and if he does win, he will be the first actor, ever, to win three best actor Oscars. (Eight actors, besides Day-Lewis, have won two best actor Oscars).


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No actress, except Katherine Hepburn, has won more than two best actress Oscars. Hepburn won four.

Best supporting actor: ALAN ARKIN, 78, "Argo." This is Arkin's fourth Oscar nomination (two for best actor in the '60s, and an Oscar win for best supporting actor in 2006 for "Little Miss Sunshine.") His 2006 win was, as with many older actors, in the nature of a lifetime achievement award and that sentimental momentum isn't with him this time.

He is nominated for playing Lester Siegel, a Hollywood film producer who aided the State Department and the CIA in creating the elaborate deception that ultimately resulted in the escape from Iran (1980) of six American diplomatic personnel who avoided being taken hostage when the American embassy was taken over by Iranian students (with the approval of the Ayatollah's government). These six were hidden in the Canadian embassy until their escape was arranged.

Siegel, unlike most of the characters in the film, is not a real person, but a composite of several Hollywood producers.

Best supporting actress: Helen Hunt, 49, "The Sessions." Hunt's paternal grandmother was Jewish. While I don't "count" her as Jewish for the purpose of this column, I am mentioning her because she's nominated for playing (real life) sex therapist CHERYL COHEN-GREENE, 68, a convert to Judaism.

Last October, and again two weeks ago, I spoke to Greene. She couldn't be happier with the film. Her whirlwind life since the movie's release includes recently meeting one of her heroes: Dr. RUTH WESTHEIMER, 84, the famous sex advice expert and---this may surprise many--a combat veteran of the Israeli War of Independence. Greene described Dr. Ruth as "a real sweetie."

Directing, Music, Screenplay, Documentaries, Animated, Best Picture

Best director: Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Zeitlin, who is only 30, made his Louisiana-based fantasy film for less than 2 million dollars and is the 'dark horse wunderkind' of this year's Oscars. Recently, he spoke to the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. Here is part of that profile:


Zeitlin's parents, both folklorists, celebrated all kinds of wisdom and fables."The myth in my own family is that we had basically one relative who escaped the pogroms in Russia in a hay cart,' said Zeitlin, whose father is Jewish and mother was raised Protestant ... 'My father very much studied Jewish culture and mythology, and he wrote several compilations of Jewish stories, folktales and jokes. He was always reinventing Jewish customs and making sure that the tradition was very much part of our lives. Every Shabbat we all had to bring a reading or some piece of wisdom we'd discovered during the week, along with a ritual where we would remember all the people we had lost." Shortly after his bar mitzvah, he traveled with his family to New Orleans, which he found to be "an almost supernatural place where both death and joy are in the air.".."All Jews are obsessed with death, right,' he added, only half joking. 'It's recalling all the people before you who have died, and using their knowledge in your own life"...The funeral scene [in "Beasts"] was influenced by Jewish thought, Zeitlin said — specifically the midrash of two ships, one leaving the harbor as another heads for shore, which suggests that one should rejoice over the returning ship, just as one should celebrate the death of a righteous man.


Best director: STEVEN SPIELBERG, 66, "Lincoln." After this film, previous screen depictions of Lincoln now seem like unrealistic exercises in hero worship. Spielberg's Lincoln is a very human-sized man who deftly worked our often sordid political system to end slavery forever and he emerges more heroic than ever before because we know what real-life skill and determination it took to accomplish what he did.

Likewise, before Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," no feature film really captured the terror and heroism of the D-Day landings.

I think it can also be said that, yes, there were great documentaries about the Holocaust before "Schindler's List." But that there was no feature film that quite captured the sweep and detail of the Holocaust before "Schindler's List." Certainly, no Holocaust film has had the worldwide impact of "Schindler's List."

As I noted last week, on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 8PM, USA network will present a special, commercial free presentation of "Schindler's List." Director STEVEN SPIELBERG will provide a special introduction to his great Holocaust film, which was released twenty years ago. USA will offer additional information and resources at charactersunite.com and through the interactive second screen experience app, Zeebox, in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation.

Best director: DAVID O. RUSSELL, 54, "Silver Linings Playbook." Russell, who was raised secular, is the son of a Jewish father and an Italian Catholic mother.

Russell, who isn't that prolific, has only made six feature films. However, three have been big hits: "Three Kings" (1999), a satirical war film; "The Fighter" (2010), about a small-time pro fighter. It got best film and best director Oscar nominations; and "Silver Linings Playbook," about the struggles of a bi-polar young man.

Russell wrote or co-wrote all the films above, save "The Fighter." He also wrote and directed the comedy "Flirting with Disaster" (1996). This film wasn't a big hit, but it got great reviews and earned twice its modest cost. BEN STILLER starred as a nice fellow who was adopted at birth by a loving, if quite neurotic, New York Jewish couple. He decides to seek out his biological parents.

I found it a quite hilarious film. Yes, the adoptive parents are often stereotypically Jewish--but nobody else in the film--a whole range of ethnic and regional types-- came off as close to perfect either. I suspect that Russell was able to draw his Jewish characters so deftly because his boyhood home, despite being secular, was Jewish/Italian Catholic--two groups whose usual parenting styles are not that far apart.

Best original song: "Suddenly" from "Les MisÚrables." Music by CLAUDE-MICHEL SCHONBERG, 67; Lyric by HERBERT KRETZMER, 87, and ALAIN BOUBIL, 72. Schonberg and Boublil are French Jews who wrote the original stage version of "Les MisÚrables." (Boublil, a Sephardi Jew, was born in Tunisia).

Kretzmer, an English Jew, wrote the lyrics for the English-language version of the stage show. All three wrote a new (now-nominated) song for the film version.

Best adapted screenplay: Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"); TONY KUSHNER, 56, "Lincoln"; Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook".

Best original screenplay: MARK BOAL, 39, "Zero Dark Thirty."

Born and raised in New York, Boal is the son of a Jewish mother and a father who converted to Judaism. His late father made educational films. After graduating from college in 1995, Boal became a freelance journalist. A 2004 article he wrote about the murder of an Iraq war veteran inspired the 2007 film, "In the Valley of Elah." In 2004, he was embedded with troops and bomb squads fighting in Iraq.

In 2008, he wrote and co-produced, "The Hurt Locker," about a three-man Iraq war bomb disposal team. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the film won six Oscars, including best picture, best director, and best original screenplay.

In Dec. 2012, "Zero Dark Thirty," which was again written by Boal and directed by Bigelow, opened. It purports to tell the true story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and his killing by Navy Seals. Critics almost all said that the film was exciting and well-made. However, many critics and politicians complained that the film endorsed the disputed view that torture provided critical clues to Bin Laden's whereabouts. This controversy will probably doom the film's chances at winning many Oscars.

Documentary (feature length): "Five Broken Cameras," about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, co-directed by Israeli GUY DAVID, 34; "The Gatekeepers": interviews with six former heads of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service; directed by Israeli DROR MOREH, 52; and "The Invisible War," about sexual assault in the American military; produced by AMY ZIERING, 50.

Documentary (short length): "Kings Point," about (mostly) Jewish seniors in Florida; directed by SARI GILMAN, 47.

Best animated short film: "The Longest Daycare," DAVID SILVERMAN, 55. Silverman has been the top animator for "The Simpsons" TV show since it began. He also directed "The Simpsons Movie" and co-directed "Monsters, Inc." "Daycare" features child character Maggie Simpson. It shows how she copes with and ultimately overcomes bullying. There is no dialogue in this four-minute film, which was universally praised by critics as harkening back to the tender human emotions found in the early seasons of "The Simpsons."

Best picture Oscar goes to a film's principal producers. Here are the best pic nominees with a "confirmed" Jewish producer: GRANT HESLOV, 47, "Argo"; ERIC FELLNER, 53, Les MisÚrables"; Spielberg, "Lincoln"; Boal, "Zero Dark Thirty"; and STACEY SHER. 50,"Django Unchained."

Honorable mention: Best supporting actor nominee Christoph Walz, 56, ("Django Unchained"), an Austrian, was previously married to an American Jewish woman and, at last report, their son was studying to be a rabbi in Israel. Walz's grandfather, a prominent non-Jewish Austrian psychiatrist, came to the States in 1936, two years before the Nazis annexed Austria. He left behind two ex-wives in Austria. One was not Jewish (Walz's grandmother) and one was Jewish. The Jewish ex-wife ("Fritzi") was hidden in a cellar by her adult daughter, Gretl, for four years during the Holocaust and she survived the Nazis. Gretl was Christoph Walz's "half aunt."

I have told the above story to a few people and they have asked me, "How could Gretl save her mother since she was, by traditional Jewish religious law, a Jew, too? Well, I don't know much more than I related above. I found this story in a memoir written by Walz's psychiatrist grandfather, Rudolf Von Urban, and he doesn't provide a lot of detail. But I can reasonably speculate.


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Ten years of doing a Jewish celebrity column has turned Nate Bloom into something of an expert in finding basic family history records and articles mentioning a "searched-for" person. During these 10 years, he has put together a small team of "mavens" who aid his research. Most professional family history experts charge at least a $1000 for a full family history. However, many people just want to get started by tracing one particular family line.

So here's the deal: Send Nate an e-mail at middleoftheroad1@aol.com, and tell him you saw this ad on Jewish World Review and include your phone number (area code too). Nate will contact you about doing a limited family history for a modest cost (no more than $100). No upfront cost. Open to everybody; of any religious/ethnic background.


In Germany and Austria, the Nazis had elaborate rules to deal with persons with one Jewish parent— they didn't care if that Jewish parent was the father or mother. They actually spent more time debating the fate of these persons of "mixed background" than the fate of so-called "full Jews."

In early 1942, the Nazis held a conference in which they quickly decided that all "full Jews" living in countries under their control would die as soon as possible and actually gave short shrift to Jews value as war workers. However, at the same conference, they couldn't quite agree on the ultimate fate of Germans and Austrians who had one Jewish parent.

While the final fate of these persons remained undecided---the policy that was put in place included restrictions of what jobs these persons could hold and who they could marry. It also included counting as "full Jews", and killing, any person of 'mixed background' who had a formal affiliation with the Jewish religious community.

However, persons of mixed background, who were raised Christian or secular, were usually not deported to their death. Surprisingly enough, the Nazis did care somewhat about German/Austrian public opinion and that figured into their decision not to kill many persons with one Jewish parent. Most persons of "mixed background" had non-Jewish relatives who cared about their fate and the Nazis didn't want, for example, a soldier coming home on leave finding out that his "mixed background" cousin had been deported to the East. It wasn't good for morale.

Therefore, I think it is reasonable to speculate that Gretl was raised secular or Christian and was not deported for that reason. However, she was still heroic: if it was found out she was hiding her Jewish mother— there is little doubt she would have been deported, too, to the death camps.

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Previously:



Jews in the National Hockey League; Possible Start of a Blockbuster Film Series; Star Wars Keep on Comin', Special TV Showing of Schindler's List



© 2013, Nate Bloom