Satirical Newscast, Kosher Style

By Paula Roth

Published January 15, 2008, issue of January 18, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Over footage of burning buildings, Israel Defense Forces troops and the Israeli prime minister, the straight-faced anchorman intones: “Great news out of Israel: Ehud Olmert has announced that the second Lebanon war was a success…. Another of Olmert’s notable successes is his attempt to comb over his bald spot.” Yes, it’s a satirical newscast, but not “The Daily Show”; nor is it “Weekend Update” from “Saturday Night Live.” On “The Mendy Report,” news is delivered by a long-bearded Hasid wearing a velvet yarmulke at a rakish tilt.

On the Air: Comedian Mendy Pellin hosts an online newscast
On the Air: Comedian Mendy Pellin hosts an online newscast

Mendy Pellin, a 25-year-old Lubavitch comedian and ordained rabbi, launched his online newscast and Web channel, ChabadTube.com, in November 2006. Since then, he’s built an international audience. Segments posted by fans on blogs and on video sites like YouTube and Google have drawn more than 500,000 views.

Collaborating with his friend Peretz Golding, the show’s co-writer and senior editor, Pellin produces episodes from a studio in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he resides with his wife, Shulamit. The show’s only correspondent, “Menachem” Pellin, bears a suspiciously uncanny resemblance to Mendy, but the host insists that “he’s no relation.” Featured segments include Chabad, Israel and world news, and “The Weekly Wink,” where Pellin explores such issues as “the secret to making the best latkes” (he uses frozen ones) and parking shortages (with a tape measure, he calculates that the 9,240 extra inches between cars equal 77 parking spots).

As the show enters its third season, Pellin will begin branching out into a new genre. In what he calls “a marriage of education and entertainment,” Pellin has partnered with the Jewish informational Web site askmoses.com and launched “AskMosesTV,” an online program featuring such educators as rabbis Simon Jacobson and Yosef Y. Jacobson, and segments like “Kabbalah Kitchen” and “Torah TV.” The show will debut February 18, coinciding with the season premiere of “The Mendy Report.”

For now, Pellin is best known for his comedic work. He receives appreciative e-mails from secular and religious Jews and, increasingly, non-Jews. A YouTube comment — “What a cool Hasid!” — explains his appeal. When Pellin took a hiatus from creating new episodes, a police officer stopped him, demanding, “When are you coming off your break?” At 770, the main Chabad shul on Eastern Parkway, even teachers who, at one time, had kicked him out of class for his shtick interrupt him constantly.

But Pellin has also created controversy. After “The Catwalk Hasid” episode, when Pellin sashayed down the annual Brooklyn Best Festival’s runway in his black hat, frock coat and white shirt, an angry Lubavitch man started the “anti-Pellin blog.” Pellin drew parents’ ire when, closing one show with a fake call from his wife, he answered, “Hi, sweets.”

While he’s aware that children look up to him — he can’t film on Eastern Parkway when Chabad’s largest boys’ school, Oholei Torah, lets out, or he’ll be mobbed — Pellin doesn’t see himself as a role model. “I have this burden to watch what I’m doing. It’s a tough balance,” he said. “Comedy is about being on the edge, and if you’re super cautious, you can’t do anything.” Still, this comedian has a mission: “Today it’s impossible to shelter kids from pop culture. I’d like to be a fun, positive alternative. Instead of this big matzo ball of guilt that’s defined the Jewish mindset, it’s important to instill pride in kids by showing them the beauty of their religion.”

When asked about his sign-off, “The shnowzal stops here,” Pellin laughed. “That’s the ever-mysterious word I get the most e-mail about, an inside joke between me and my friends. Let’s leave it at that.”

Paula Roth is a freelance writer in New York City. Her articles have appeared in the New York Post and other publications.


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!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • 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.