Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
August 9, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 14     (14 of 60 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 14     (14 of 60 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
August 9, 2013

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 9, 2013 I ) ! By Elaine Durbach New Jersey Jewish News Seeing the green scaly skin and long snouts on the chai~- acters, you rflight not guess at first that Ed Shankman's lat- est book is about a child's visit to his grandmother in the Sunshine State--inspired, in L ve s in fact; by his own two Jewish bubbes, one assimilated and sophisticated, the other the embodiment of Yiddishkeit to her core. 4 "Both these women were amazingly influential in my life, taught me all kinds of stuff, and showered me with unconditional love and appreciation," he told N.J. Jewish News. "The grandma in the story is a composite of them both." In My Grandma Lives in Florida, done with illustra- tor Dave O'Neill, adoring old ladies and gators get merrily blended through rhyme. Why the Verona resi- dent--a creative director at an ad agency--chose to cast alligators in this tale of family love is Complicated: It has to do with the ~act that Florida has lots of them, that illustrator Dave O'Neill can make even hideous creatures look cuddly, and that Shank- man adores animals. He and his wife Miriam, whom he met when he lived in Israel for two years, have cats--clearly beloved by both of them. They don't have children, but the mind- set of the young is something to which Shankman is clearly attuned. "I'm a kid myself," he declared. The book begins, "My grandma lives in Florida/ And that is where we go/ When daddy says he can- not stand/Another inch of snow." . Alongwithatravelogue of Florida, the book includes scenes familiar to any child who has spent a vacation with bubbe: "When we go inside, grandma gives me a kiss/In fact, there's no place on my face she will miss/I may wriggle and giggle and grumble and hiss/But only a grandma can kiss you like this." Shankman said he dis- covered the magic of rhyme while reading Dr. Seuss books as a kid--and as an adult, he confesses, "I still find them absolutely wonder- ful. When people compare my books to Dr. Seuss's, I'm honored," he said. He wrote his first chili dren's story when he was 17. A teacher was scolding him for his lack of attention to work, and he answered that he didn't need the academic stuff because he was going to be a kids' author. "She told me it was harder than I thought, so I wrote a story just to spite her, to prove herwrong," he said. He wrote it that night and read it to her the next morning, in front of the class. "She apologized to me," he recalled. Despite that quick start, Shankmafi, now 53, said it takes him and O'Neill about a year to complete a book; their other works include The Boston Balloonies, The Cods of Cape Cod, Champ and Me by the Maple Tree, The Bourbon Street Band Is Back, and I Met a Moose in Maine One Day. However, even after sales of their latest book reached 40,000 copies, and they re- ceived enthusiastic reviews of their work along the way, Shankman admitted that h~s teacher was not completely wrong. It is,hard to make a living as a children's book author, and he has no plans to give up his day job any time soon. In the meantime, he loves his work at the ad agency, bringing out the creativity in other people, but asked if he'd switch to writing kids' books full-time if he could, Shankman replied, "In a heartbeat." :lrlzes Check our website for information, directions and service schedule, Call and leave a message at 407-366-3556 if additional information is needed Shir Shalom Celebrating 11 years of serving Central Florida A NEW .YEAR - A SPIRITUAL RENEWAL DISCOVER THE REFORM JEWISH HOME YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR! HIGH HOLIDAY TICKETS ARE ON SALE iOW! High Hdliday Services will be held at: FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF OVIEDO 263 KING STREET, OVIEDO Companion Services Light housekeeping prep and cleen-up Medi tion Reminders Errands &,Transportation Alzheimer s & Dementia Care Sathing/Transferring/Toileting Get 10 hours of care State of FLAHCA Licen~ # NP, 30211467 State of FL AHCA License ~ 23"1012 Insared ~nd bot~ded By Linda Gradstein The Media Line Suppose that Israeli Presi- dent Shimon Peres and the late Palestinian leader Yas- ser Arafat entered therapy together. "What keeps you up at night?" th~American thera- pist asks the 90-year-old Israeli president in a sooth- ing voice. "My prostate, heartburn, and Iran to bomb or not to bomb?" Peres answers in his characteristic Polish accent. She then turned to Arafat. "You're ~'n a safe place here," she promises. "He is trying to kill me "to poison me!" Arafat yells about Peres. Many Palestin- ians still belie,e that Israel poisoned Arafat. who died in 2004. "Israel is the start-up na- tion," Peres responds. "We can be much more creative than poison." During the hour-long show, Jeremy Bracka plays 20 different characters in- cluding members of his own Australian Jewish family, Israeli diplomat Uri Savir, and Morah Tzippi, the Is- raeli teacher in his school in Melbourne who accused him of not really being Jewish because he couldn't learn to dance the h0ra. a traditional Israeli folk dance. Bracka. who moved to Israel in 2007, is a human rights lawyer who did a stint at the Peres Center for Peace and at Israel's mission to the United Nations. The show in Jerusalem was performed as Secretary of State John Kerry was hosting Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in the first step toward re- suming the peace process. Although the timing was coincidental, it added an im- mediacy to the performance. Bracka clearly drew on his peace process own expeliences. As part of a project at the Peres Center, Bracka interviewed Israeli and Palestinian authors, named in the show as Avi and Bassam. Bassam is shown as being disillusioned with projects dealing with Arab-Jewish coexistence. "I'm over hugs and hum- mus," he says, emphasizing the "h" in both. "We've had a lot of process and not a lot of peace." Bassam also hints at Pal- estinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's weakness saying "somebody needs to give him some strong falafel balls." Bracka also takes a shot at the UN, known for being anti-Israel, describing it as "Eur6vision on Steroids" af- ter the popular song contest. He has a Polish mother and an Egyptian fat.her,. both satirized during the show. His mother, he says, taught him the ABC's in a unique way. "A is for Auschwitz." she tells her son for his bedtime story. "B is for Buchenwald." Bracka himself speaks five languages including Arabic and describes a stint studying in Morocco to the horror of his provincial Zion- ist family. "I left the nest of neuroses and set out for Fez," he says. "Arabic intimidated me. Arabic is like a festival of phlegm an orgy of cough- ing and gargling sounds." In Morocco his portly teacher Abdul Hafiz tells him that you never say "no", only "insha'allah", if God wills it. That, he says is what he tells his sister who invites him over for couscous every Sunday. The show also has a serious moment when the author Bassam talks of his eight-year old daughter Zeitouna, who loved olives so much "we were going to use her pee for olive Oil." Bassam tells of a shooting outside Zeitouna's school, which leaves her dead. Toward the end Shimon Peres tells the therapist that "Jews have been praying at the Western Wall for peace for 65 years." "HOw's it going?" asks the therapist. "Like talking to a wall." The audience of about 120 English-speaking Jerusale- mites loved the show, laugh- ing loudly and applauding for several minutes at the end.- "I laughed a lot,"Yael Pafir, the director of J Street in Israel told The Media Line. "It touches upon two things that I'm really invested in - peace and Israeli-Diaspora relations. He really takes a lot of interesting things and twists them in a funny kind of way." Patir used to work at the Peres Center for Peace and says his imitation of Peres is spot-on. Others say they believe Bracka brought his characters to life. "I "think he portrayed both sides of the picture here," Sally Klein-katz, who teaches Jewish education told The Media Line. "It is pretty amazing that he was able to portray so many characters." Bracka says the show is autobiographical and chronicles his own journey from Australia to Israel. He says comedy can break down barriers. "Both sides can be stuck and stalled by dehumanizing the other," he told The Media Line. "If an Israeli audience leaves the show feeling more sympathetic to a Palestinian perspective and ifa Palestin- ian leaves the show feeling more sympathetic to an Israeli perspective then I've done my job."