Friday, January 21st 2022   |

Arts and Culture

Mort Sahl, Jewish comedian who fused stand-up with political satire and inspired the likes of Lenny Bruce, dies at 94


(JTA) — Mort Sahl, a Jewish satirist who was credited with making caustic political and social satire popular in stand-up comedy, died Tuesday at 94.

Often walking on stage holding just a rolled up newspaper, Sahl liked to riff on the headlines of the day in extended improvised monologues. At a time when comedians tended to steer clear of politics, Sahl took aim at politicians and was...

Jay Black of ‘Jay and The Americans’ dies at 82


(JTA) — When Jay Black wanted The New York Times to understand that he was a hell-raiser, he said he was thrown out of New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn.

When he made the same point to The Forward, he added that he was subsequently tossed out of three yeshivahs.

“Three yeshivas,” Black said twice for emphasis in a 2014 interview. “I was a bad kid.”


Katie Couric reveals that her mother was Jewish in new autobiography

(JTA) — Katie Couric reveals in her new autobiography that her mother was Jewish, contrasting her mother’s upbringing with that of her father, who was apparently proud of his Confederate ancestors.

Couric delves into the revelation in “Going There,” published this week, which she also discussed Thursday in a long interview with Rebecca Traister, a Jewish feminist journalist, in New York magazine. Even well into her own adulthood, the former NBC...

At 95, Mel Brooks will finally deliver ‘History of the World: Part II’


(JTA) — You couldn’t Torquemada it: Mel Brooks is making a sequel to “History of the World: Part I,” the 1981 revue that delighted and/or appalled Jews with, among other segments, a cheery musical take on the Spanish Inquisition.

The original was a feature film; the sequel on Hulu will be a variety series, Variety reported on Monday. Brooks, who is 95, will executive-produce and write; joining...

On Netflix and elsewhere, new collections of Palestinian and Israeli films are now available for streaming


(JTA) — Some of Netflix’s biggest international hits of the last few years — from “Fauda” to “Shtisel” — have been Israeli imports. Now, the streaming giant is spotlighting Palestinian entertainment, as well.

Last week, Netflix released a “Palestinian Stories” collection consisting of what it said was 32 films, although only 27 films were listed under the category in the U.S. as of Monday. Of the available...

We asked, you answered: JTA readers’ must-see Holocaust movies


(JTA) — In a recent opinion piece for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Rich Brownstein argued that “The Grey Zone” is the greatest Holocaust film ever made. His column has been the most-read piece on JTA since.

Brownstein is no amateur critic. He is a lecturer for Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies and the author of “Holocaust Cinema Complete: A History and Analysis of 400 Films,...

Sally Rooney won’t let her new novel ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You?’ be published by an Israeli press


(JTA) — Bestselling author Sally Rooney won’t allow her recently published novel, “Beautiful World, Where Are You?” to be published in Hebrew by an Israeli press because she supports a cultural boycott of Israel.

Like the acclaimed Irish author’s first two books, “Beautiful World” explores the life and romance of intellectual, urbane millennials. It debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list when it...

A story about Palestinians won Israel’s highest film honor. Its stars skipped the award show in protest.


(JTA) — The award for best feature film at Israel’s Ophir Awards, the country’s top film honor and its automatic nominee for the foreign film category at the Oscars, went to “Let It Be Morning,” a film about an Arab-Israeli man forced to grapple with his identity as both Palestinian and Israeli.

But most of the Palestinian stars of the film skipped the award ceremony Tuesday night,...

Alan Kalter, longtime announcer for David Letterman and a former synagogue president, dies at 78

(JTA) — Alan Kalter, his rabbi said, was a “mensch,” a past temple president who dutifully Zoomed into services throughout the pandemic.

Kelter died Monday at 78 at at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut, surrounded by his wife and daughters. His colleagues took to social media, remembering him as a “lovely” man who was generous with his praise and encouragement.

That might not be the Alan Kalter you remember: For 20...

Meet the Jewish mustard maven who founded a museum for his favorite condiment


(JTA) — The 16th-century kabbalist Moshe Cordovero and the Jewish philosopher Nachmanides both compared the universe to the size of a mustard seed. The biblical commentator Rashi – who lived 100 miles from Dijon, France – believed that Abraham served tongue with mustard to the three angels who visit him in the 18th chapter of Genesis.

Long before there were Jewish delis, mustard apparently was important to...