Archive for September, 2013

Jewish Hockey Player Not Your Typical Children’s Author

September 30, 2013

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Michigan's Zach Hyman in action against Notre Dame. (photo credit: Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography)

Michigan’s Zach Hyman in action against Notre Dame. (photo credit: Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography)

Next year, Random House will publish two children’s books by a new author. One, titled, “The Bambino and Me,” conjures 1920s New York and tells the story of a young Yankees fan named George, who especially admires Babe Ruth and carries his baseball card everywhere.

The other book, “Hockey Hero,” is about a shy hockey player who overcomes playing in his brother’s shadow and eventually makes it all the way to the National Hockey League.

“Hockey Hero” came out of an award-winning short story Zach Hyman wrote for an English class at his Jewish day school in Toronto. That wasn’t really so long ago for the 21-year-old Hyman, who not only has a deal with a leading publishing company, but also with the NHL. Hyman was picked in the 2010 entry draft by the Florida Panthers, which “owns” him as a potential NHL player.

“Writing is a hobby, not a job,” says Hyman, who is currently playing hockey at the University of Michigan. “I write because I enjoy writing. There will be another book, whether or not it gets published. I like to write feel-good stories about believing in yourself and never giving up.”

Since arriving late this summer in Ann Arbor for the start of his junior year, Hyman has been busy training for the start of the Wolverines’ 2013-2014 hockey season in early October (powerhouse Michigan was picked to finish third for the inaugural season of the Hockey Big 10 Conference).

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Hipster Anne Frank Speaks Back from the Twitter Attic

September 29, 2013

This piece was first published on the Forward Thinking blog at the Forward.


Guess who sent me an email from her attic — er, I mean, loft? My post here last Thursday about Hipster Anne Frank’s tasteless tweets didn’t sit well with her, and she wanted to let me know. She wrote me saying that I had gotten her all wrong.

The email arrived two days after she called me a “Jew hater” on Twitter, which she must have meant ironically…right?

Her email was addressed to me and to writers and editors at Time and the Atlantic, who wrote follow ups to my original story. Hipster Anne Frank carbon copied some folks over at Jezebel, Jewcy, Heeb and Tablet for good measure, possibly because she knows them — or is one of them. Whoever she is, she knows the online addresses for Jewish hipness. I’m fairly certain our tweeter is Jewish based on her reference to “our [my italics] cultural comedic tradition of addressing oppression in seemingly ‘distasteful’ ways.” But at this point, I don’t really know who is behind the twitter handle. That’s because Hipster Anne Frank didn’t break character in writing to me.

I was seriously considering cutting Hipster Anne Frank a little bit of slack after reading her message. She made some good points about Anne Frank having had a sense of humor and an appreciation for popular culture, and about Jews’ historical use of dark humor to get through difficult times. I totally got what she meant when she wrote, “What I feel bad about is that most young people today only know me as that lucky young girl who Justin Bieber visited while on tour in Amsterdam.”

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


Filmmaker Jessie Kahnweiler Sees Satire in Rape

September 29, 2013

This interview was first published in The Sisterhood blog at the Forward.


Filmmaker Jessie Kahnweiler in her short film, “Meet My Rapist.”

Filmmaker Jessie Kahnweiler, known for her comic spiritual YouTube adventure “Dude, Where’s My Chutzpah?” has a new video out, and viewers don’t know quite what to make of it.

It’s called “Meet My Rapist.”

The short satirical film is a response to Kahnweiler’s own rape, which occurred almost eight years ago, when she was 20 years old and studying abroad in Vietnam. In the video, Kahnweiler plays herself. After she runs into her rapist at the farmer’s market, she can’t shake him. He appears to be following her — more like, haunting her — everywhere she goes: on a job interview, on a run with a friend, to dinner with her parents, to her psychotherapy session. Kahnweiler feels she has to take cues from everyone else as to how to relate to her rapist. However, that changes by the end of the piece.

Kahnweiler spoke with the Sisterhood about the realization that catalyzed her to make the video, her use of satire in dealing with the subject of rape, and how “Meet My Rapist” relates to her understanding of herself as a young Jewish artist.

Click here to read the interview.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.