Strange Entries in the Annals of Conversion

By Jason Hernandez Rosenblatt

Published March 10, 2006, issue of March 10, 2006.

Last Thursday, at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York (not to be confused with a secret shed behind Bill and Hillary’s Chappaqua home), jailed rapper Shyne (né Jamaal Michael Barrow) assumed the name Moses Michael Leviy after a jailhouse conversion to Judaism. Having recently come to believe that he was descended from Ethiopian Jews, the Belize-born rhymer went as far as taking out a classified ad in the New York Post to make it all official.

The chart-topping rapper was imprisoned after a well-publicized 1999 incident involving Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jennifer “Jenny from the Block” Lopez in which three people were shot in a Times Square nightclub. One unlucky woman caught a Dick Cheney special right in the kisser; Shyne caught a 10-year prison term. Super-celebrity has its privileges; Jenny and Diddy got off scot-free.

Speaking of super celebrity, in the Holy Land last week her Madgesty, Madonna (who has changed her name to Esther, but has — as of yet — not converted to Judaism) took some time out of her busy schedule of pushing Kabbalah to the likes of Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher and decided to buy an Israeli home in order have a place in the Holy Land when the Messiah arrives.

This news was overshadowed, however, when Baruch Marzel, chairman of Israel’s United Jewish Front party, published an open letter calling on Israeli model and former Miss World Linor Abargil to turn down a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Lithuanian basketball player Sarunas Jasikevicius, who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli league championship two years in a row and now comes off the bench for the Indiana Pacers.

Instead of embracing Israel’s version of the Beckhams, Marzel declared that by marrying Jasikevicius, Abargil would be “divorcing the people of Israel as well as her family.” Marzel ended his letter with what must be considered one of the weakest pick-up-lines of all time: “If you wish to be informed of the dangers associated with marrying gentiles,” Marzel wrote, “I am leaving my cell phone number. Please call me any time and I shall help you.”

The solution to all this is, of course, clear: Abargil should just marry Shyne in a ceremony presided over by Madonna.



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