Holy Comedy

By Esther D. Kustanowitz

Published July 11, 2007, issue of July 13, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Teens in trouble are nothing to laugh at. But comedians, by definition, should be. That, in a nutshell, was the theory behind a series of recent comedy shows in the Holy Land, which featured professional American comedians raising funds for an organization that provides support services for English-speaking teenagers.

Last month, Dwight Slade, Gary Gulman and Craig Robinson, residents of Portland, Ore.; New York, and Los Angeles, respectively, performed five shows that raised $10,000 for Crossroads Center in Jerusalem, a not-for-profit organization and the only intervention center for English-speaking teenagers. The funds raised from these shows will help run the center for a full month.

The Crossroads Comedy series, first created in 2005 by Israeli-born and L.A.-based comedian Avi Liberman in cooperation with his longtime friend, Crossroads director Caryn Green, has become an eagerly anticipated part of the summer’s Anglo entertainment scene in Israel.

“Teens aren’t known for their ability to talk about their issues,” Green said. “But we try to offer as much as we can to help them find a different avenue for communicating. When they’re ready to get their lives together, we’re here to help them do it.”

Although the center is physically based in Jerusalem, teens have flocked to the facility from all over, including the cities in which the shows were held: Ra’ananna, Tel Aviv, Modi’in, Efrat and Hashmonaim. Between shows, the comics toured Israel.

While the Dead Sea excursion was a big hit across the board, each comedian came at the experience from a different place. Because Gulman, the only other Jewish comic besides Liberman, had visited Israel before, his standup reflected his experiences with the Jewish state’s airport security. But this was Slade’s and Robinson’s first encounter with the Holy Land. Slade embraced the touring as a family affair; accompanied by his two children, he traipsed through Hezekiah’s water tunnels in the City of David and visited Jerusalem’s Old City on a Saturday, observing the Sabbath-time pulse of the city.

Robinson, hot off recent roles in the movie “Knocked Up” and the NBC comedy “The Office,” cited the Bible at various points, wandered the Arab shuk and noted that the names of the places they visited, particularly Ra’ananna and Hashmonaim, reminded him of the unusual names of his nieces and nephews. All three comedians learned little bits of Hebrew; Robinson’s most frequently used phrase was the gutturally innocuous “todah very much.”

So, will Israeli drivers, shawarma and Hebrew gradually make their way into mainstream American comedy? Insert punch line here.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.