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!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • 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.