Right off the bat, straight up – I apologize for the title. I’m aware it’s a tad “fromage”, but we Jews love puns, no? Am I wrong?
In 2011 I was gifted with a whack-load of worry, a solid dose of hypochondria, fears about 2012 really being the end of times and a nudging sense that I am either too Jewish or not Jewish enough. But more important: What were the famous Jews complaining and catastrophizing about? In a year where Weiners twittered photos of their shlongs, where snipping your baby boy almost became illegal in California, and where Montreal Jewish scientist Ralph Steinman died only to receive the Nobel Prize three days later (bummer!)…there was clearly lots to laugh, cry and bitch about.
We can’t cover it all, but let’s take a look at some “Jews in the News” for 2011.
Rabbi Stephen Greenberg
Not exactly a household name and no stranger to controversy (with the Chassidic set, anyway) Rabbi Greenberg (an openly gay Orthodox Rabbi) officiated a same-sex marriage between two gay men in 2011. He upset some beardy types, but his explanation makes a lot of sense: “Though it was a legal marriage according to the laws of the District of Columbia, as far as Orthodox Jewish law (halacha) is concerned, there was no kiddushin (Jewish wedding ceremony) performed.”
While I don’t see any kind of actual issue with this (the inner frummie in me is cool with it), it does require us to re-think notion of same-sex hora dances (“That’s NOT a chair leg you’re grabbing!!!”).
Hilary Clinton via “Di Tzeitung” (Yiddish newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY)
This Yiddish weekly published a photo of President Obama and his staff watching a live feed of the Bin Laden assassination. Only problem was that US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was completely edited out of the photo.
However, upon being pressed for an explanation as to why the editorial staff took this absurd step, an unnamed editor at Di Tseitung explained “Vat you vant? Ve didn’t do ennyting wrong. Vampires don’t show up in pictures”.
He’s a dot-com billionaire living every unathletic sports geek’s dream: He owns a professional sports team. Moreover, he’s pretty darn hands-on when it comes to player personnel decisions (y’see, because that’s part of the dream). All basketball and non-basketball decisions need his seal of approval to move forward. He’s extremely outspoken, foe-like to National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern (one look at him, and you KNOW he’s a Jew too), and takes incredible care of his players’ needs. He pals around with him, and cheers them on, and laments each and every loss courtside at home and away games.
His Dallas Mavericks, led by star power forward Dirk Nowitzki, captured the 2010-11 National Basketball Association World Championship. They defeated the extremely EVIL Miami Heat, led by none other than the most loathed figure in all of professional sports – His Talented South Beach-edness, Lebron James.
And while I’m pretty certain I haven’t adequately researched it, this victory signifies the first time that a Jew and a German (Nowitzki) national collaborated on anything meaningful since the Enlightenment.
Dominique Strauss Kahn
This guy’s year did NOT look fun. No one wants to be accused of rape, especially when you’re head of the International Monetary Fund, angling to become President of France. He resigned amid a scandal where a New York City chambermaid made allegations that he came on a BIT TOO strong in his hotel room when she was there doing her job. The charges were eventually dropped, and there was speculation that the charges were meant to be a significant smear campaign against DSK by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. One of the bigger stories of 2011.
He does have the rep of being a bit of a lotharious horndog, including connections to a northern French prostitution network, but does that mean he’s unfit to run a country? Shame on you people.
We can make tasteless jokes about her until she rises from the grave and checks herself into rehab, but man, this was sad. This girl was clearly one of the more talented singers of her generation, but died in 2011 as a result of her alcohol issues.
While I wasn’t a doting fan, it was easy to see how she was bringing back something that the world needed…a sultry, soulful singer with serious vocal chops and an attitude to match. None other than Tony Bennett (who recorded a duet with her) claimed she sang “the right way”.
He overcame claims that he didn’t spend enough time in his native city to be considered a “resident”, as well as his controversial reputation as being an incredibly pro-Israel White House Chief of Staff, to become mayor of Chicago. He’s like a less immoral version of Newt Gingrich.
This past year was not a prolific one for Saint Leonard.
Lenny didn’t tour but he quietly recorded what will be his first original album in seven years (to be released in January 2012). However, at age 77, Leonard was voted second-most “desirable man in Montreal”, by the readers of the Montreal Mirror, in their annual “Best of Montreal” survey.
So, either Montreal is a city lacking in younger, desirable men, women in Montreal have a thing for older Yids, or this man was blessed with a serious kavorka. Only a few short years ago, Leonard was 4th on the list. At the rate he’s going, he will soon be voted the single-most desirable male in Montreal. With Leonard pushing 80, I’m nervous that some day, the staff at some old-age home will have a new threat on their hands: female stalkers who have a fetish for catheters and ailing Jewish poets.
The Israeli politician wears two hats in the Knesset. He’s Minster of Xenophobia and Minister of Shameful Behavior (a portfolio he recently inherited from ex-President Moshe Katsav). After a series of investigations, the State Prosecutor charged Lieberman with a lot of things of which he ironically vociferously accuses Palestinians of, including fraud, money laundering, breach of trust, and witness tampering, not to mention “blatant racism”.
With HBO’s Entourage wrapping up after 8 seasons in 2011, we need to mention Ms. Chriqui. She’s Sloane on the aforementioned show, she’s of Morrocan Jewish descent, and she’s Canadian (for those of us Canuck zealots who don’t want to date/marry people from other countries). That’s a lot of plusses for us single, Jewish Canadian males with mundane day-jobs & who live far, far away from the glitz of Tinseltown.
Note to single men: Stalking Emmanuelle on Twitter will NOT convince her that you are “the nice Jewish boy she’s desperately seeking in that cesspool called ‘Hollywood’ ”. However, I remain impressed with her career trajectory. After eight seasons on a hit HBO show, she’s vaulted into a voiceover roll in the upcoming re-boot of 80’s bad-cartoon The Thundercats.
And there you have it. What does 2012 have in store for the Jews (at least the ones we’ve heard of)? Other than more matza, I have no clue. With Matisyahu closing 2011 by shaving his beard and losing his chassidism, there is just no telling what will come next for our people. Hopefully, it won’t involve rape accusations, suppression of women & gays, or remakes of horrid 80’s cartoons that no one cared about in the first place.
Jon Selig is a Montreal-based standup comic and writer. Selig never lets his lack of journalistic credentials get in the way of “facts”. He can be followed on Twitter, at @jonselig.