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June 8, 2012

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PAGE 18A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 8, 2012 6 degrees (no Bacon): Jewish celebrity roundup By Six degrees (no Bacon).staff- Sacha Baron Cohen, as himself for once Sacha Baron Cohen's newest comedy, "The Dic- tator," has been a relative success at the box office, and the man behind 'Borat," "Bruno'! and "All G" finally talked to BBC as none other than himself. Baron Cohen talked about why comedy is an inherent part of Jewish identity, stating that "there is an emphasis on comedy within Judaism." Did Howard Stern lose his 'nice' groove? As the newest judge of "America's Got Talent," Howard Stern has surprised everyone by being, well, nice on national TV. Even when he made a contestant of the reality -show cry--7-year- old rapper Mir Money, who was jamming onstage when Stern almost immediately pushed the "X" button of rejection--Stern went up on the stage to give the kid a hug. Awww. Babs' Israeli birthday magi- cian Barbra Steisand recently celebrated her 70th birthday, and one of the attractions of her birthday party was a magician=--from Israel. Is- raeli mentalist Lior Suchard told the Israeli magazine Pnai Plus that he surprised Babs. "I've known her for two weeks and she already told all of her friends about me," Suchard says. "There's a magic to it. This is a mytho- logical woman tome. It's not like meeting Seinfeld." Bar wants your number Bar Refaeli continues to wow American audiences. After topping the 2012 Maxim Hot 100 list, the Israeli supermodel appeared on ,Conan O'Brien, where she told the red-headed host how she rarely gets hit on. She recalled a man at a bar who bluntly gave her his phone number; had she been single, Bar said, she would have awarded his bravery with a phone call. Samberg's tip to Harvard grads Andy Samberg may be leaving "SNL," but he could have a future as commence- ment speaker. Samberg's speech to Harvard's graduat- ing class this year became a viral hit (like every other video Samberg is in), as the Jewish funnyman offered imitations of Mark Zuck- erberg and Nicholas Cage. Ampng his departing words to grads: "2012 is a great time to be graduating from col- lege. Sure, the job market's a little slow. Sure our health care and Social Security sys- tems are going to evaporate in five years. Sure, you'll have to work till you're 80 to support your 110-year old parents who will live forever because of nano-technology ... but that doesn't matter," he said. "My advice to you is simple: Relax, dude! You just finished college at Harvard, You worked so hard. Trust me, you're going to kill it. I went to Santa Cruz, then transferred to film school, and I'm rich!" Like Charlotte, Kristin is also dating Jewish In "Sex and the City," her character Charlotte York-Goldenblatt married a Jewish man and converted. In real life, Kristin Davis may walk the same path. Davis reportedly has been dating screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, the man behind "The West Wing, ' "The Social Network" and other successful TV shows and movies. Bialik leaves Facebook with a bang_ Mayim Bialik, the actor behind "Blossom" and Dr. Amy Fowler of "Big Bang Theory," decided to quit Facebook after a controver- sial photo of her wearing a sheer shell under a sleeve- less dress drew criticism from modesty-obsessed Jews. "I think it is really sad that social media has beaten me down, and I wish I was more resilient," she wrote two weeks ago in a Post on the Jewish parenting blog The Kveller. But don't worry, she still will have a presence on Twitter. For more Jewish celebrity news, visit, the illegitimate child of JTA. Election From page 1A to change regardless because public opinion matters as it didn't in the past." As an example, Hanna cited Egypt's non-interference during Israel's 2009 war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, to the extent of maintaining strict controls on the Gaza- Egypt border. "The government will not be able to take an affirmative role in terms of buttressing Israeli policy in relationship to Hamas," he said. "The knock- on effect would be massive protests in the streets." Even Shafiq, the candidate better known to the West and with an established relationship with Israeli and U.S. interlocutors, would Reform not be able to resist populist suspicion of Israel, said David Schenker, a senior analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Under Morsi, the 1979 Camp DavidAccords with Israel are likely to come under review, he predicted. "We stiti don't know if they will put the treaty to a referen- dum or push to renegotiate," Schenker said of the Muslim Brotherhood. Popular Suspicion of the accords is likely to be exacer- bated as the two largest blocs in parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Demo- cratic Alliance for Egypt and the Islamist Bloc, aligned with harder-line Salafists, compete for the Islamist vote. "Regardless of who is presi- dent, you will have ongoing comFtition between the Brotrhood and Salafists, whiclwill push the Brother- hood  the right," he said. Scl:nker noted that even durin the transition, under the Xest-friendly military, the rlationship with Israel alrea,y has been affected. Egypthas effectively cut off natuB ,as supplies to Israel, a program that was unpopu- lar wth Egyptians. And last Sukkot, the first after the revolution, Egypt suspended the export of palm fronds, one of the four species needed to celebrate the holiday. The key goal for the United States in the short run willbe to preserve its interests and to promote a stable transition to democracy, whomever is elected president, said Schen- ker, who served as a senior Middle East policy official at the Pentagon under President George W. Bush. "We'll want assurances about access "to the Suez Canal, the peace treaty with Israel, political'pluralism, protection of women and minorities," he said. In the short run, at least, the continuedpreeminence of the military--in the form of the SCAF, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces--likely guarantees the perpetuation of the peace treaty, which affords Egypt $1.3 billion in U.S. assistance annually, as well as the good will of the international community. "We have to remember that anyone governing Egypt has to take ifito account the interests of the state," said Elie Podeh, a professor at Hebrew University's Depart- ment of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Because of its treaty with Israel, Egypt "gets a lot in terms of money, in terms of security, in'terms of support." It is not clear what powers Egypt's president will have--a new Egyptian constitution has yet to be drafted. Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that whoever wins will have some impact on how relations with the West go forward. "The key question with Morsi is not how he will act in times of normal relations but how he will react in a time of crisis," Alterman said. "Mubarak was dependable. It is unclear any leader of Egypt will be so dependable." The U.S. and Israel might have to accommodate a more hostile rhetoric, at least in the interim, While cultivat- ing the new leadership, said Joel Rubin, the director of government policy at the Ploughshares Fund, a body that promotes peace initia- tives. "Israel and America will both have to accept there might be language coming out of the Egyptian parlia- ment and leadership that is new playing to the crowd," he said. "It's not in our interests to see the relationship go in the wrong direction." From page 1A tually all Conservative and Reform congregations. Lastweek's announcement followed out-of-court nego- tiations over a 2005 petition by the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Ju- daism and Rabbi Miri Gold, "a Reform rabbi from Kibbutz Gezer in central Israel. Gold had petitioned the state to fund the Gezer Reform community just as it funds Orthodox communities and their leaders. Initially, the government has agreed to fund 15 non- Orthodox rabbis in the re= gional council areas. But the funding could increase as more Conservative and Reform congregations, are established. Yizhar Hess, the executive director of Israel's Conserva- tive movement, known as Masorti, said there is a more important issue than the ini- tial number of communities receiving financial support: Conservative and Reform Jews in these areas no longer will have to donate privately to support their rabbis while also paying taxes to support the Orthodox-dominated Rabbinate. This, he hopes, will allow more Conservative congre- gations to form and reduce the Israeli movement's de- pendence on donations from America. Three-quarters of the Masorti movement's an- nual budget of approximately $4.5 million now comes from the Diaspora. "The only way for a Masorti rabbi to act as a Masorti rabbi was to be able to raise enopgh funds from donations and dues to make a living," Hess said. "We know that there are more communities that want to reach out and have us." For years the government has held the position that non-Orthodox rabbis deserve these rights: A 2008 govern- ment memorandum to the court in Gold's case said that "a town with a non-Orthodox community that is interested in cultural and communal activities deserves funding from the state." The attorney general's of- rice used that memorandum as a basis for its decision, but by defining non-Orthodox ac- tivities as "cultural and com- munal," it shifted responsibil- ity for overseeing the activ!ties to the Ministry of Culture and Sport--meaningthat Reform and Conservative rabbis still do not have state-recognize'd authority over Jewish law. But Kariv, Hess and their American counterparts be- lieve that last week's deci- sion could pave the way to increased legitimacy for their movements in Israel. David Lissy, executive direc- tor of the Masorti Foundation in New York, pointed to two recent surveys of Israeli Jews showing increased awareness of and identificationwith non- Orthodox movements. One, a recent report by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Avi Chai foundation, showed that 30 percent of Israeli Jews had attended a Conservative or Reform service. "More and more people feel that they would like to take responsibility for their Jewish identity," Hess said. "They understand that there is more than one way to be Jewish." Outside Israel, the Rab- binical Assembly of 'the U.S. Jewish Conservative move- ment and the World Union for Progressive Judaism were among those that lauded the decision. "This is a historic day for Israelis and Jews around the world," said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbini- cal Assembly. "In order for Judaism to grow and thrive in Israel, it is necessary that the government recognize its obligation to provide equal funding to various Jewish religious streams and ex- pressions that flower in the Jewish state." Ties From page 1A from the 'hard-working to the lazy. Rabbi Steven Wernick, the executive vice president of the-United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, then asked the president how the rabbis could push back against perceptions that he was hiding his. true feelings about Israel. "Jack always tells me I'll get asked the kishkes question," he said, referring to Lew, who is an Orthodox Jew, and using the Yiddish term for "guts." Obama said the question dated back to 2008 and for him was a bizarre reversal:" Until then, he said, during his rise as a state politician in Illinois and then as U.S. senator, he had been depicted by some on the left as a"stooge"for Israel becauseofhis close friendship with Jews and others in the pro-Israel community. The president blamed several elements for the reversal: The reluctance among some Jews to credit someone with the middle name Hussein, and the son of a Muslim, with being pro- Israel; the quirk of history of a center-left government in the U.S. overlapping with a center-right government in Israel, and the resulting perception that Obama was pressing Prime Minister Benjamin- Netanyahu too hard to shut down st/ttlement expansion; and the fact that the Republicans seized these elements to advance a narra- tive that he was unfavorable to Israel. Obama made clear that he resented the narrative, calling it "unfounded." He said his support for Israel was evident not just during his adminis- tration through enhanced security assistance, but also during his days in the Senate. Obama also complained that no one questions the pro-I;rael bona tides of Mitt Romley, the all-but-certain Repmlican presidential nom- inee; Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-K*.), the minority leader in the U.S. Senate; or Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The administration's push- back on this issue was evident as well in a May 21 meeting featuring top White House officials and some 70 Jewish community leaders. Biden took aside Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, and complained about a mutual acquaintance who was writ- ing"scurri[ous" emails about Obama's record, according to Klein. Biden then repeated the complaint in his address to the whole group of Jewish leaders, according to Klein and another participant. Matt Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said that Obama's complaints were disingenu- ous, noting that until this year a number of Democrats had complained about Obama's approach to Israel, particu- larly his call to use the 1967 lines as the basis for negoti- ating the future borders of a Palestinian state. "On the eve of his reelec- tion, he's engaging in a charm offensive with the Jewish community and has turned down some of the rhetoric," Brooks told JTA. "But I don't believe he has changed his fundamental policies in any regard." Obama in his talk with the Conservative leaders also said that he had read deeply about Judaism, .saying he probably knew more about the topic than any other president. Brooks derided the assertion as "narcissistic." Those at the meeting said they were impressed by Obama's remarks. "He talked very passion- ately about his personal sense of commitment to the values that ate reflected in the U.S.- Israel relationship and the feelings he shares with the American Jewish community for Israel," Rabbi Jack Moline, the spiritual leader of the Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Va., and the Rabbinical Assembly's direc- tor of public policy, told JTA. Moline arranged the meet- ing between Lew and the Conservative leaders. "My impression is that this was an effort by the White Hous to reach out to faith leaders of various communi- ties, and we were just fortu- nate to be among the first," Moline said. In a blog post on the JTS website, Eisen said that Obama's quest for Jewish ap- proval was a positive. "He clearly cares what the Jews of America think of him," Eisen wrote. "This has to be a good thing for us and for Israel; I believe it is also a good thing for America." Zach Silberman of the Washington Jewish Week contributed to this report.