Celebrity Jews


The National Foundation for Jewish Culture has announced its 15th annual awards, to be presented Monday, June 7 in New York. Honorees include playwright Wendy Wasserstein and author Anne Roiphe. Presenters include playwright Tony Kushner and author Katie Roiphe, the daughter of Anne and her husband, Pulitzer-winning biographer Justin Kaplan. Anne Roiphe, by the way, is the great-niece of Sigmund Freud.

The foundation was a favorite cause of the just-departed Alan King, who was honored in 1998 as the first winner of the Alan King Award for Jewish Humor. Another of King’s causes was the Friars’ Club, the entertainers group. As noted by Roger Friedman of Fox News, King was a mensch who could take a jab as well as give one. No one laughed harder when Susie Essman got off this line at a Friars’ Club roast: “There’s Alan King. Alan, did you ever think you’d live so long that your prostate would be bigger than your ego?” King told Friedman that “she killed with that joke” and that he’d use it himself.

The Jewish vote

The California Music Awards, formerly “the Bammies,” are given on Sunday, June 6, starting at noon, in front of Oakland’s City Hall. (It’s free and features live music.) Awards are based on fan votes and you can vote through Tuesday, June 1, at www.californiamusicawards.com. Jewish nominees include Dave Ellis, Jai Uttal, Dave Gans, Adam Duritz, Scott Ian, Mark Levine and Hyim Ross.

Bassist Maya Ford of The Donnas is the youngest Jewish nominee. The Donnas formed in 1993 when four Palo Alto female high school students, who felt alienated from most of their peers, combined to make up a rocking band that has garnered good critical reviews, a large national following and a major label contract. Like The Ramones — who all took Ramone as their stage name — all took the name Donna. Maya is billed as “Donna Ford.” The Donnas’ co-manager told me that they have a ritual before going on stage: They all say a prayer. Maya, the one Jewish “Donna,” recites a Jewish prayer. Then they all say “shalom.”

Oops I did it again

OK, we realize the meshugah stories of celebrity Kabbalah are wearing thin. However, this one is the topper.

For the last few months, there have been reports that Britney Spears is a Kabbalah student. Early this month, The Daily Mail, a Brit tabloid, reported that Spears just had several Hebrew letters tattooed to the back of her neck. Unfortunately, according to the Mail, the letters spell nothing and are just gibberish. The Mail adds that this isn’t the first time Spears has had a nasty surprise with a foreign language tattoo. Sometime back, she thought she had the Japanese word for “mysterious” tattooed on her leg. She found out last year that she actually had the Japanese word for “strange” on her leg and was reportedly very upset when informed of her error.

The fact that Spears has a Hebrew tattoo just goes to show how far celeb Kabbalah study can be from normative Jewish practice, which forbids it. Obviously, Hebrew literacy or pre-tattoo proofreading is also not part of the course.

Oaklander Nate Bloom is the editor of www.Jewhoo.com.

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.