‘The rabbi told me to keep it short,” screenwriter Jeremy Garelick said at the start of a recent Sabbath-eve talk in New York. “I was trying to revise what I had written, and then I ran a spell-check and decided it would be much faster just to read the words that were misspelled: cholent, Aniston, tuchis, Shabbos, Schumacher.”
The standing-room-only crowd roared, but Garelick, a writer and co-producer of the romantic comedy “The Break-Up,” which stars Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, had come to the talk fearing the worst. He proceeded to offer two other potential openings and invited audience members to vote for their favorite. “I want to give you guys a little feel of the movie business,” he said. “We get to test jokes with audiences and have focus groups.”
The appearance was held May 12 under the auspices of the Manhattan Jewish Experience, an outreach organization for unaffiliated Jewish 20- and 30-somethings with little connection to their religion.
The screenwriter, 30, charmed the assembled with tales of his Hollywood life. He told of how a friend, actor Ilan Gold, didn’t realize that his television show, “Stacked,” was scheduled to tape Friday nights. Gold went to his rabbi. “Ilan said, ‘Rabbi, there’s a chance I might have to touch [the famously busty] Pamela Anderson,’” Garelick said, chuckling. “So the rabbi gave him a heter [exemption] for silicone!”
Garelick and friends met Gold for Sabbath dinner in his dressing room. After that, Gold negotiated a contract stipulating that future tapings take place Thursdays.
With a high-profile film on the horizon, Garelick mused on his newfound fame. “I’ve worked my way to this point, and the only thing people ask me is if Vince and Jen are dating!” he said with mock exasperation. “And yes, they are.”
June promises to be a big month. “The Break-Up” opens June 2, and Garelick is getting married soon thereafter. His bride, Samantha Rifkin, is a chef whose father is the cantor at the Conservative Rockland County, N.Y., synagogue that Garelick’s family attends.
He credited his parents, who were at the event, for raising him with Jewish values. He attended a Solomon Schechter day school from third through eighth grade and spent summers at Camp Ramah. He and Rifkin have been studying at MJE with rabbis Mark Wildes and Ezra Cohen; most recently they have been studying the laws surrounding marriage.
As for the words that needed to be spell-checked, Schumacher is director Joel Schumacher, who gave Garelick his start; cholent is a bean dish traditionally served on the Sabbath, and Aniston and tuchis, well, you’ll just have to see the movie.