Archive for April, 2014

Forgotten Siren: From Cairo Diva to Israeli Single Mother

April 30, 2014

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

A young Souad Zaki in the recording studio in Cairo. (Courtesy of Moshe Zaki)

A young Souad Zaki in the recording studio in Cairo. (Courtesy of Moshe Zaki)

TEL AVIV — Most people have heard of Egyptian sultry siren Umm Khultum, the greatest female Arabic singer in history who dominated Middle Eastern stages and airwaves from the 1930s to the 1970s and still enjoys widespread acclaim. However, though she too was a prominent singer of popular classical Egyptian music leading up to the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, the same cannot be said of Souad Zaki.

Had political realities been different, Zaki may have become an international singing sensation like Umm Khultum, who picked Zaki to co-star in the hit 1945 film “Salamah.” But as nationalism and anti-Semitism took hold in Egypt, Zaki, a proud Jew and Zionist, left her birthplace and privileged status behind for the life of a struggling immigrant in the young Jewish State.

Thus, just as Zaki’s star was rising in Egypt, she became a cleaning lady at a bank in Tel Aviv.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Ginnifer Goodwin’s Ketubah Caper

April 28, 2014

This post first appeared in The Times of Israel.

Actress Ginnifer Goodwin on Jimmy Kimmel last week. (YouTube screenshot)

Actress Ginnifer Goodwin on Jimmy Kimmel last week. (YouTube screenshot)

Actress Ginnifer Goodwin wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of her marrying her Prince Charming (aka Josh Dallas, who plays opposite her Snow White character on the ABC fairy tale drama series “Once Upon A Time”) — not even a stolen ketubah.

The pregnant 35-year-old actress recently told light night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that the morning of her under-the-radar April 12 wedding to Dallas, her wedding planner’s car was broken into. Among the items taken was the ketubah, an illuminated wedding contract created for the marriage ceremony.

Kimmel, who had not known that the Memphis-born Goodwin was Jewish (she had a bat mitzvah and is said to have been active as a teen in NFTY and BBYO youth groups), was surprised to hear from Goodwin how unfazed she was at hearing this bad news.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Street Hipstography: Where Voyeur Meets Social Media

April 24, 2014

This article was originally published in The Times of Israel.

Bruce (photo credit: Sheldon Serkin)

Bruce (photo credit: Sheldon Serkin)

If you are in New York, don’t be surprised if you appear in one of Sheldon Serkin’s photographs. But there’s no way to know he’s taken your picture: He never holds his camera up to his face, and he never makes eye contact — let alone speaks — with his subjects

Serkin is part of the growing mobile phone street photography trend in which images are surreptitiously captured of daily lives, oblivious to the lens pointed at them. It’s a democratic kind of photography, enabled by the advent of the iPhone and digital photo apps that let anyone try their hand at becoming the next William Klein, Henri Cartier-Bresson or Robert Frank. The genre is often referred to as hipstography, after the Hipstamatic app, which became popular in 2010 and gave the trend a huge push.

“I like being able to do it undercover. I like that I don’t draw attention to myself, because I don’t like confrontation,” Brooklyn-based Serkin tells The Times of Israel.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.