Shabbat shalom everyone!
A few reminders: This is the first edition of the JNR enabled by the Substack platform. Hopefully you have received this in a nicely formatted email and you are reading it while donning your JNR t-shirt and enjoying your coffee in a JNR mug. Also, The Forward’s Shabbat reader is not published this week, so you will have to suffer through some of my own selections. Next week the JNR staff will be publishing from our Martha’s Vineyard location and we will return to a full version, courtesy of The Forward.
Shout out this week to our younger generation, but more specifically, my nieces and nephews who are always smart and entertaining, and continue to provide me with some hope for our country and planet, which is rapidly descending into a pit of despair and dark politics.
My niece Carrie was perusing my old Bar Mitzvah photo album and offered up this gem I share with you at the risk of much embarrassment. That’s my dear old dad standing next to me, providing some editorial advice while I advance my torah studies and build the solid jewish foundation the JNR rests upon.
But enough about me, let’s get to the good stuff!
- The wicked witch of the west is Jewish! Ok, I am pretty sure Frank Baum, who wrote the Wizard of Oz, was not an anti-semite, and no, Margaret Hamilton, who played the wicked witch in the original movie, was not Jewish. But, if you go to Broadway to see the latest version of Wicked, that witch is played by a very Jewish young woman, Talia Suskauer. The story of the Broadway musical “Wicked” is rife with Jewish resonance. Unlike the hook-nosed villain of “The Wizard of Oz,” the witch in “Wicked” begins the musical as a likable outsider. But she’s mocked and rejected for her green skin throughout her youth and scapegoated for societal chaos as an adult. This month, “Wicked” became the first tour of a Broadway show to resume performance, and its star, Talia Suskauer, is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Read the interview
- Another one bites the dust – Legendary drummer and the rock of the Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts, passed away this week and will be remembered for his amazing talent and driving rhythms behind so many classic Stones songs. Of course, The Forward found the many Jewish connections in Watts life, which you can read about here, but here are a few I liked the best: When he first started out, he played with a so-so band that did alot of Bar-mitzvah’s and jewish weddings. Said Charlie on those gigs, “I never knew what the hell was going on, as I’m not Jewish.” And of course, he was know as a snazzy dresser. The Daily Telegraph and Vanity Fair named him one of the World’s Best Dressed Men, who favored classic, traditional suits (although not while drumming). In an interview, Watts gave credit to his father for taking young Charlie to his tailor. “In those days you’d have a little Jewish guy in the East End in London, who made you things,” said Watts. Read more here
- Shiva call: Inge Ginsberg – What an interesting lady! A holocaust survivor who helped spies and eventually became a heavy metal musician, died last week at the ripe old age of 99. The New York Times summed up her eclectic existence like this: “Her rich life, spanning three continents and 11 decades, entailed wartime espionage, volumes of poetry, songwriting and a late-career turn as a rock band’s frontwoman.” In recent years, she appeared on “Switzerland’s Got Talent” and in a documentary called “Death Metal Grandma,” which you can watch here. “We have no doubt whatsoever that she died because of boredom, loneliness and depression,” said Pedro da Silva, a friend and bandmate.
That’s all for this week. And hey, get your booster, and be safe out there!