August 31, 2007

Jewish Alliance Colony, 125 Years Later

My niece Lola represents a new generation of Jewish Alliance descendants

Last week I returned home to Vineland, NJ ... and I mean HOME home, back to our farmland where my family lived when I was born, for the 125 year anniversary of the Jewish Alliance Colony. For a little background, Joel Landau of The Courier Post explains in his article, "Town honors anniversary of Jewish colony":
In 1882, 43 Jewish families fled the Soviet Union to come to South Jersey and do something they were never allowed to do before.

The refugees, from what is now Odessa, Ukraine, started the Alliance Colony, which became the first Jewish agricultural colony in the country. Now, descendants of those first families and hundreds more that came shortly afterward reflected on and honored their history at Alliance Cemetery on Gershal Avenue.

My father's side of the family were amongst the original 43, and I have many fond memories of growing up in Vineland with fellow descendants, who are like a big extended family to me.

Rabbi Murray Kohn, who performed our bar and bat mitzvahs, and officiated my sister Sandy's wedding

The songs I write for my cartoons? I have Barbara Kornbluh, my childhood piano instructor, to thank for making learning music so fun!

Celia Pretter, with her daughters Talia and Alana, was our favorite babysitter when we were little. She lived down the street where her parents raised chickens, and we would ask our parents to leave just so Celia would come to sit for us. I was just a wee lad, but you can see why she is still my favorite!

Kosher Barbe-CUTE!

Photo by Paul Berger

Brooklyn buddy Paul Berger snapped this fine photo in Prospect Park earlier in the week. What a cute family picnic, with all the kids in matching shirts!

An interesting question has been posed on the comment section of Paul's post: is it kosher to use the park grill, which is not kosher, even if you are not grilling directly on it?

I suspect the family are cooking on their own grill and coal basin, and are using the park grill merely as a high platform for their own cooking device. Would that be a halachicly kosher solution? Would they have to kasher their cooking basin when they got home? Enough Hassidic families use the park grills in the same way that it must be kosher, but if anyone can explain exactly why, Paul and I would appreciate it.

Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!

August 30, 2007

Rosh Hashanah Girl

I am pleased to bring you my first non-cartoon video production, "I Gotta' Love You Rosh Hashanah"! Fellow ROI120 participant and music co-writer Michelle Citrin stars as Rosh Hashanah Girl in this musical parody of the popular "I Got A Crush...On Obama" video that came to fame on YouTube this summer.

The Rosh Hashanah Girl concept was originally pitched to client Taglit-birthright israel as another animated holiday e-card, but as I was recording the music with Michelle, I began to realize it would be so much better as a real live video, and with Michelle as Rosh Hashanah Girl. Reluctant at first, Michelle graciously accepted the star role, and we set out to shoot on location throughout New York City. Once we had enough footage, friend Simon Weaver lived up to his name and weaved the tapestry of video goodness you see above.

If you watch the video closely, you'll spy Leading Up North Fly Girls Danielle Cohen, Sydney Henning, Esther Kustanowitz, Lindsay Litowitz, and Gabby Sirner; Grey co-worker Jim Heekin; even notable Union Square 6'7" Jewish faith healer Te'DeVan.

We hope you enjoy the video and will share it with your friends and family ... Even Obama Girl herself is helping to spread the word!

Song: "I Gotta' Love you Rosh Hashanah"
Performed by Michelle Citrin
Lyrics and Production by William Levin and Michelle Citrin

August 16, 2007

Eat Me, I'm Kosher

A man after my own single-minded heart, Seattle blogger Ben has devoted an unreasonable amount of time to cataloguing and pontificating on Suicide Food — that is, "any depiction of animals that act as though they wish to be consumed."

In one of his recent posts, Ben showcases a glatt kosher beef product from Simcha Valley. In describing the happy cow, who, judging from the bloody brisket she holds in her cloven hoof, is apparently aware of her ultimate consumption, Ben provides some relevant facts about kashrut:
So here, our happy cow is perfectly situated to contemplate and serve God, right up to the Blessed Moment. Of the 613 mitzvot—the commandments contained in the Torah—a great many deal with the proper disposition of sacrificed animals. Our cow is in the right line of work. After her ritual death, her internal organs will be rigorously inspected for any of 70 irregularities that would render her remains non-kosher. (Glatt is often thought of as "ultra kosher," a designation requiring extra scrutiny.) Is it any wonder she is filled with gladness?

Mmm, all this talk about inspecting entrails is making me hungry!

August 10, 2007

Behind the Scene

Tuesday August 7 was National Underwear Day, an event launched by Freshpair, based on the simple belief that underwear deserves a lot more recognition than it gets. What does this have to do with Jewish and/or robots? Other than my sneaking suspicion that many of the models were actually androids, the event was founded by Freshpair president Michael Kleinmann, and the video production was coordinated by Alex Lirtsman, with on-the-fly editing by buddy Dave Marcus, who got the Jewish Robot in on the job of preparing the videos for YouTube for The Underwear Observer blog.

Alex smiles because, well, we're blogging about National Underwear Day!

Seen the behind? Behind the scene in Hard Rock Café at Times Square

"Must ... concentrate ... on ... editing ... Ignore ... girls ... in underwear!"

Jewish Robot, Dave Marcus, and Freshpair president Michael Kleinmann, (who bears an uncanny resemblance to ROI120 leader and friend, Elias Parker!)

August 09, 2007

Newish Media

Point/Counterpoint with Mobius and Rebecca

This week I attended The Evolving Landscape in "New" Jewish Media discussion at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. On the panel were Tahl Raz of, Sara Ivry of Nextbook, Rebecca Wiener of Heeb Magazine, Esther Kustanowitz of PresenTense Magazine, Daniel Sieradski of and moderator Ami Eden of JTA. Eden played the devil's advocate with his questions, asking the panel if blogs really have an impact in the world of legitimate Jewish journalism. He expressed a common sentiment: he could read about the same topic in a hundred blogs, but he won't take it seriously until he reads it in a reputable printed publication like the Jewish Daily Forward (where he used to work). Tal argued that blogs must be having an impact, because now all these reputable print publications are rushing to create their own blogs. Dan "Mobius" Sieradski, founder of, knows first hand about these Old School publications looking to start some serious blogging, as he hinted to the audience, and finally announced on his Orthodox Anarchist blog:
Next Monday, I assume the role of Director of New Media for JTA, the global Jewish newswire. Mostly, I will be responsible for JTA’s website, video, podcasts, etc.. I will not be writing for them. Not yet, anyway. And unless I’m showing off something I made, I also will not be writing about JTA here or anywhere else. I do not want to blow this gig. So, this is “the last time I am phoning and the first time. Goodbye.”

Good luck to all my fellow New Jewish Media bloggers, though I have a feeling it's the Old Media folks who need the luck.

"Sorry for making fun of Heeb in my comics, Rebecca."

Persuasive and manly speaker Tahl Raz flanked by swooning Sara Ivry and Esther K.

Self-professed Brooklyn hater, alcoholic and author of Generation S.L.U.T., Jewcy contributor Marty Beckerman finally meets his idol: me.

Chosen Courter

After all the poking fun at JDate I do, occasionally I must take a break to acknowledge when something good comes of it. This past weekend I joined in a Prospect Park barbecue celebration for the one year wedding anniversary of my friends Sara Schwimmer of and her husband, Dave Marcus ... who met on JDate!

Many more, Sara and Dave!

August 03, 2007

Goy Ride

Talk about keeping separate plates! Shabot fan, Marty Johnston, is a Jewish Community Professional, a Hebrew speaker ... and a goy! Working at the Tucson Jewish Center in Arizona, studying torah with Orthodox Jews, Marty describes himself as "the worst nightmare of Jewish Mothers," and got the license plate to serve as "a warning plate to keep the ladies away".

Thanks for the photo, Marty!