Short Cuts

By Forward Staff and JTA

Published January 19, 2007, issue of January 19, 2007.

Pop diva Britney Spears may have dropped Kabbalah, but she seems plenty interested in Jewish studs. Just a few weeks ago, The Shmooze noted that Spears was dating South African-born Jewish record producer Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem. Now, word is that she has moved on to model Isaac Cohen….

A New York judge has ordered Jerry Seinfeld to pay fees of $100,000 that he had to withhold because his real estate agent was not available to show a property on the Sabbath. In 2005, the comedian reportedly tried to contact real estate agent Tamara Cohen regarding a Manhattan townhouse she had shown his wife, but Cohen’s phone was turned off because it was the Sabbath.

So Seinfeld and his wife went to see the townhouse without the agent, negotiating a $3.95 million sale directly with the owner. We’re not sure what’s more outrageous: one of the richest performers in the entertainment industry trying to stiff his real estate agent, or the agent walking away with a six-figure fee for virtually no work. Sounds like something for George and Jerry to kick around….

Mazal tov to all the winners of this year’s National Jewish Book Awards. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s “A Code of Jewish Ethics: Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy” won top honors for a major work of nonfiction; Daniel Mendelsohn won the Biography award for “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million”; Dara Horn’s “The World To Come” won the fiction award, and Esther Schor took the American Jewish Studies award for “Emma Lazarus.” Shaye Cohen’s “Why Aren’t Jewish Women Circumcised?” won in the category of women’s studies, and Shuly Rubin Schwartz was honored in modern Jewish thought for “The Rabbi’s Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life.” In the history category, David Cesarani’s “Becoming Eichmann” was named the year’s best. Jon Levinson took the scholarship award for “Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel.”…

In an interview published in the January issue of Esquire, Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson defended his right to make antisemitic remarks and wondered why everyone isn’t as intelligent as Ashkenazi Jews. “If you can’t be criticized, that’s very dangerous,” he said. Watson, who won the Nobel in 1962 for his work uncovering the structure of DNA, has been the subject of numerous controversies relating to his views on genetic screening, including a call to use genetic engineering to eliminate stupidity.

Well, if society ever takes up the idea, we’ll know where to start….

Comedy Central is launching “The Watch List,” a groubreaking internet show featuring Iranian and Arab comics. The Shmooze hopes it doesn’t bomb.



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