Archive for May, 2010

She’s Not in Kansas Anymore

May 28, 2010

Nikia Brown is not in Kansas anymore. More exactly, not in Kansas City, where she is from. She, her husband and young daughter are African-American converts to Judaism now living in Holon, Israel. For those of us who write a lot about the mishegas that goes on within the Jewish community, it is refreshing to hear someone like Brown talk about why she was drawn to Judaism and what being a Jew and an Israeli mean to her.

I couldn’t stop thinking, “You go, girl!” a I watched Brown audition for Kochav Nolad (A Star is Born), the Israeli version of American Idol. The fact that she doesn’t yet speak Hebrew didn’t stop her from learning one of my all-time favorite songs, “Uf Gozal” and singing it in front of those notoriously tough Israeli celebrity judges. Seeing  famous performer Margalit Tza’anani grinning from ear to ear at the end of the video, exclaiming, “You make me want to sing with you! You make me want to sing with you!” is priceless.

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Tantalizing Tichels

May 28, 2010

Look what just hit the internet yesterday – the Tichel Cuties (tichel being the scarf that traditionally observant Jewish women wear over their hair once they are married) singing a kosher version of some Lady Gaga songs. Well, maybe kosher, but not so innocent. The sexual overtones – not to mention some of the lyrics – in this video caused me to be pretty sure that this is all a satire…Right?

The video was posted to YouTube as an “Ofn Tisch” (Yiddish for “on the table”) production by site member “dugree” (Hebrew/Arabic slang for “telling it straight” – as in, no bullshitting around). But if you look closely, you can see that it bears the mark of the Bible Raps Project duo Matt Bar and Ori Salzberg (who can be seen in some of his videos wearing a t-shirt imprinted with “dati l’lo kippah”  – non-yarmulke-wearing religious Jew).

Most importantly, it’s stated at the end of “Chagaga! (Tichel Cuties)” that “No actual married women appeared in this video.” Whew, what a relief.

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Update: This was cross-posted  as “Meet the ‘Tichel Cuties'” on The Sisterhood blog of The Forward on May 31. Click here to read it.

Update: Mystery solved. Click here to read an interview with one of the young women in the video and get answers to questions people have been asking about it, like: Is this a parody? Who’s idea was this? What’s the idea behind this bizarre video? Is there a point someone is trying to make here?

Bucking The Establishment

May 26, 2010

Biting, risque, and irreverent (as his comics usually are), Eli Valley’s noir-ish Bucky Shvitz – Sociologist For Hire, was published today on The Jewish Daily Forward’s website. Valley, in this one page comic, captures the essence of much of the thousands upon thousands of words that have been written in the past week by Peter Beinart, his supporters and his critics. Click here to see the Bucky Shvitz comic.

Eli Valley holding a comic sign he made for a protest against the ADL's Abe Foxman (photo from Jewcy)

Valley, a writer as well as a comic artist (as in someone who draws comics, not a comedian…but, then again, I guess the two are related in a way) is a regular contributor to The Forward and Jewcy. His day job is Senior Foundation Writer and Editor at The Steinhardt Foundation For Jewish Life, and he is the author of The Great Jewish Cities of Central and Eastern Europe: A Travel Guide and Resource Book to Prague, Warsaw, Cracow and Budapest. You can see more of his brilliant work on his “EV Comics” (“Ethnocentric Parochialism for the Whole Family!”) website.

Even if you don’t identify with his Millennial sensibilities or agree with his point of view on all things Jewish or political, you’ve got to hand it to him for his intelligent originality and creativity – as well as his willingness to court controversy.

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.