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Johnny Depp Has Considered Becoming a Mohel

Actor says he’s given ‘serious thought’ to the profession

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Actor Johnny Depp at the premiere of 'Mortdecai' on January 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Johnny Depp and Paul Bettany, in Berlin doing publicity for their confusing new film ‘Mortdecai‘ this week, had a particularly revealing interview with Israeli entertainment show ‘Erev Tov With Guy Pines.’

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Two IDF Soldiers Killed Near Lebanon Border

First fatal Hezbollah attack in Israel’s north since 2006 raises questions about deterrence

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Israeli soldiers look at a burned-out vehicle after a Hezbollah attack on the Israel-Lebanon border on January 28, 2015(Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven injured yesterday in a Hezbollah attack on IDF vehicles near the easternmost part of the Israel-Lebanon border. Five Kornet rockets were fired at a military convoy, in what was the first fatal attack conducted by Hezbollah in the north since the Second Lebanon War ended in 2006. The IDF returned fire, apparently leading to the death of a U.N. peacekeeping soldier from Spain. The attack came in response to a drone strike earlier this month in the Syrian Golan Heights, which led to the death of six Hezbollah militants and a senior Iranian officer. Israel has not officially claimed responsibility for the deaths, though it is widely believed to have been a targeted strike against a group that was planning attacks on the Golan Heights in Israel. (Whether or not the Iranian officer was the intended beneficiary of the drone’s missile is unclear.) Additionally, on Tuesday, two rockets fell in the Golan, prompting the evacuation of the ski resort on Mt. Hermon.

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Chelsea Handler: Topless Peacenik

American comedian bares all in Israel with a message of coexistence

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Chelsea Handler is baring her breasts on Instagram again, this time to promote a message of peace and coexistence in the Middle East.

The photo—posted early Thursday morning in Israel—depicts the American comedian astride a camel, illuminated by the glorious, waning desert sunlight. A pair of Israeli flag pasties provide a modicum of ‘modesty’ for sensitive viewers who may be offended by human anatomy.

“A Muslim allowed a topless Jew to sit on his camel,” captioned Handler, who is currently touring Israel to help raise funds for the Tal Center for Integrative Oncology at the Sheba Medical Center. “And we say we can’t live side by side? I say we try and we can and we will. And, You don’t even have to be topless. L’chaim”

This isn’t the first time Handler has taken her shirt off on social media for a political cause. In October, she replicated Vladimir Putin’s shirtless horse-riding picture to draw attention to Instagram’s sexist censoring of women’s bodies. We can safely assume this won’t be the last, either.

My Visit to Auschwitz: Remembering, Educating, Acting

Randi Weingarten reflects on this week’s 70th anniversary commemoration

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Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum Piotr Cywinski, and Auschwitz survivors arrive at the former concentration camp on January 27, 2015. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Our journey to Auschwitz was long. The fog and the wind were so bad that our flight from Tel Aviv to Krakow was diverted to Warsaw. We drove all night to get there and arrived at Auschwitz exhausted. The trip wasn’t easy, and we barely made it in time to visit the museum before the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the concentration camp’s liberation. Then again, it should never be easy to come to this place. And nothing—not talking to survivors or reading extensively about it or teaching it or visiting other museums about it—prepared me for this visit.

For 70 years, it’s been said, “Never forget.” Never forget the marginalization, the stereotyping, the isolation and the dehumanization of Jews, Gypsies and other vulnerable minorities. Never forget that moment it became acceptable to consider them unworthy of life. Never forget the genocide. Never forget their lives, or the systematic attempt to eliminate an entire people. (more…)

The Merchant of Vegas, Onstage in London

Shakespeare’s prickly classic gets a timely update in new production

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Emily Plumtree as Nerissa and Susannah Fielding as Portia in 'The Merchant of Venice.' (Ellie Kurtz)

These are strange days for The Merchant of Venice in London. In the aftermath of the recent Paris terror attacks, tensions in the United Kingdom run high: the chief of MI5 recently said that an attack in the U.K. was “highly likely.” Anti-Semitic violence was on the rise in 2014, even if reports of pessimism amongst Britain’s Jews may have been overhyped. The Merchant of Venice has always been the most problematic of Shakespeare’s problem plays; even when things are quiet, it makes audiences uneasy. But Rupert Goold’s new production of the play, which opened last month at the Almeida Theatre in Islington, plunges headlong into the controversy.

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Broadway Stalwart Joel Grey Comes Out

Willkommen out of the closet!

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Jennifer Grey and Joel Grey at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on April 20, 2013 in New York City.(Michael Loccisano/Getty)

82-year-old Broadway stalwart Joel Grey has revealed that he is gay in an interview with People Magazine.

“I don’t like labels,” says the actor, who maintains he has always been attracted to both men and women, “but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.”

Grey—born Joel David Katz to Goldie and Mickey Katz—has performed for television, film, and on the stage. He is probably best known as a star of musical theater—he played the Wizard in the original Broadway cast of Wicked, and famously created the role of the Emcee in Cabaret. The latter earned him a Tony Award, and he won an Oscar when he reprised the role for the 1972 film. In 2013, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Folksbiene National Yiddish Theatre. (more…)

Sheldon Silver To Be Replaced as Assembly Speaker

Albany assigns interim replacement, will hold an election in February

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New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver walks out of the Federal Courthouse after his arraignment on January 22, 2015 in New York City. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Since New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced he wouldn’t formally resign from his post after being arrested for corruption, Albany has determined to take the matter out of his hands, the New York Times reports.

After 20 years in power, Silver is in the middle of a swift and brutal fall from grace—prosecutors allege he illegally acquired nearly $4 million in an ongoing scheme that included taking bribes or making arrangements to benefit New York law firms in exchange for payments he failed to report.

Silver’s temporary replacement as speaker is Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, and other lawmakers will take on aspects of the job as well. The State Assembly will hold an election for the new speaker on Feb. 10.

Silver may still resign as a gesture, though he maintains his innocence. He has, however, agreed to not impede Albany’s process of replacing him.

Previous: Sheldon Silver Steps Back From Speaker Role
The Case Against Sheldon Silver

French President Addresses Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Hollande: ‘France is your country. Your place is here. This is your home.’

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French President Francois Hollande gives a speech at the Holocaust memorial in Paris on January 27, 2015 to mark the international day of Holocaust remembrance, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz could not have coincided with a more politically fraught moment for the French government. After all, 75,000 Jews were deported from France during the reign of the collaborationist Vichy regime and most of the deportees never returned. Three weeks ago, homegrown French jihadists staged bloody assaults upon the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket in Paris. The two attacks killed 17 people, half a dozen of them Jewish. The French government was deeply cognizant of the need to reassure its frightened Jewish citizens of its commitment to their security.  

The morning’s frigid cold and grey sky offered an appropriately morose atmosphere for the proceedings. (more…)

The Deeper Lessons of the Miss Universe Contest

Beyond the selfie drama, this year’s pageant was a deliciously absurd spectacle

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Miss Australia Tegan Martin, Miss Netherlands Yasmin Verheijen, Miss Brazil Melissa Gurgel, Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha, and Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell onstage during The 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant on January 25, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)

Okay, so we all heard about the drama leading up to the Miss Universe pageant, right? How Miss Israel posted a picture to her Instagram posed happily with Miss Lebanon (and Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan, neither of whom really has a beleaguered Semitic-language speaking dog in this fight), and everyone was like, “OMG! Israel and Lebanon, together, smiling, with weird Barbie-doll boobs and waists! Maybe the Miss Universe pageant is more than an excuse for Donald Trump to contractually grope scantily-clad 21-year-olds who don’t speak English but are not technically prostitutes! Maybe peace in the Middle East is possible after all!” (more…)

Israeli Journalism Giant David Landau Dies at 67

The British-born writer and editor founded Haaretz’s English edition

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British-Israeli writer David Landau holds his Officer of the Order of the British Empire medal after it was presented to him by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on July 11, 2014. ( JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images)

David Landau, a pivotal figure in Israeli journalism and the former editor-in-chief of Haaretz, died today in Jerusalem. He was 67.

Landau, who was born in the U.K., moved to Israel in 1970 and began working at the Jerusalem Post, where he stayed for 20 years as the paper’s political correspondent and later as managing editor. He joined the staff of Haaretz in 1993 and founded the newspaper’s English edition in 1997. He later served as editor-in-chief of Haaretz and until last year wrote a regular column for the paper. (more…)

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