Archive for March, 2013

Jewish Actor’s Splash Is Nun Of Your Business

March 30, 2013

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

“Call the Midwife” fans have closely followed the romance between Caplan’s police constable and a nurse played by Miranda Hart. (Laurence Cendrowicz/Neal Street Productions)

“Call the Midwife” fans have closely followed the romance between Caplan’s police constable and a nurse played by Miranda Hart. (Laurence Cendrowicz/Neal Street Productions)

Ben Caplan grew up in a tight-knit, traditional Jewish community in North London, but now is spending a lot of time with Anglican nuns in the East End.

The actor has not abandoned his faith, but rather stars in “Call the Midwife,” a period drama about the lives of midwives and nuns at a nursing convent in one of the British capital’s poorest and grittiest neighborhoods in the late 1950s. The most successful new BBC One drama in a decade, its second season will begin airing Sunday in the US on PBS.

“We believed it would be a great project, but I don’t think any of us thought it would be as popular as it is,” the London-based Caplan told The Times of Israel last month from Los Angeles.

Though no longer as religiously observant as he once was, Caplan, 38, is nonetheless attracted to projects with religious settings and themes. He says he immediately saw the universality and spiritual power of “Call the Midwife” while reading the memoirs by Jennifer Worth on which the series is based.

“It’s set at Nonnatus House, this religious household. The religious overtone is the heart of what goes on in ‘Call The Midwife,’ ” he said.

Caplan feels honored to be one of only three male actors with recurring roles. He plays Police Constable Peter Noakes, who works at the local precinct and becomes the love interest of one of the midwives.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

 

Kosher Scandal Hits Los Angeles Market

March 29, 2013

This piece was first published in the Forward.

Is it Kosher?: Meat at the popular Los Angeles market, Doheny, may not be kosher.

Is it Kosher?: Meat at the popular Los Angeles market, Doheny, may not be kosher.

Los Angeles Jews are reeling from a kosher meat scandal that hit the community on Sunday, just a day before the beginning of Passover.

In what The Jewish Journal is calling “the biggest kosher scandal to hit Los Angeles in 20 years,” Doheny Glatt Kosher Meats on Pico Boulevard, in the heart of the city’s Orthodox neighborhood, lost its kosher certification from the Rabbinical Council of California after owner Mike Engelman was videotaped instructing workers to bring boxes of product in to the store when a mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) was not present.

The news of Doheny’s being stripped of its certification made the local 10 p.m. television news on Sunday. The KTLA report showed the surveillance video made by private investigator Eric Agaki, who had been looking into operations at the market for several months in response to rumors that had been circulating about problems there. Agaki, who also uncovered 5,000 fraudulent “glatt kosher” stickers that could be affixed to any package, conducted his investigation independent of the RCC.

RCC staff members, Rabbi Kalman Topp, the spiritual leader of Beth Jacob, the largest Orthodox synagogue in Pico-Robertson, Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City and Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David-Judea gathered with other Orthodox leaders to view the videotapes only hours before they were set to be broadcast on KTLA.

Engelman, who was called in to speak with the rabbis, admitted to bringing unsupervised food into the store, which as been in business for 28 years. However, he maintained that he never brought un-kosher meat into the store, and that the boxes seen on the video contained kosher chicken.

The RCC issued an email announcement that it had “removed its kosher supervision, for cause, from Doheny Kosher Meats,” but that all meat purchased before 3 p.m. on Sunday was still considered kosher.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

 

 

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/174029/kosher-scandal-hits-los-angeles-market/#ixzz2OxbHDhqU

Group Gathering On S.F. Avenues To Count The Omer

March 28, 2013

This article was first published in JWeekly.

Photo by George Altshuler

Photo by George Altshuler

This year, there is going to be a new, uniquely San Franciscan way to count the Omer.

It turns out that the city is perfectly designed for the Jewish commandment to count the 49 days between the second day of Passover and Shavuot. That’s because it just so happens that San Francisco has 49 consecutively numbered avenues (including, for purposes of the project, Arguello and Great Highway) in its Richmond and Sunset districts.

When Yeashore Community’s maggid Jeff Haas and his friend, educator Reuben Politi, noticed this coincidence a couple of months ago, they saw an opportunity to design a project that would literally bring Jews onto the streets to observe the mitzvah of counting the Omer together.

The two men organized the Omer Project, an initiative that is equally about counting the days between the two holidays and getting out the message to Jews, across all denominations and beyond, that their presence counts.

The group has scheduled a festive and educational Omer counting gathering every evening of the 49-day period at a street corner on the numerically corresponding avenue. As much as possible, the gatherings will take place in front of or near a synagogue or other Jewish institution located in the Richmond or Sunset districts.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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