Thursday's Shmooze Celebrity Roundup

We’re going to start off today’s roundup with all the Jewish sports news that’s fit to print:

First, on the basketball court: NBA basketball player Malcolm Thomas , who was being considered by the Miami Heat, opted to sign a 1-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Israeli player Gal Mekel , who played two seasons for Wichita State back in 2006-2008, has been extended an invitation to a Utah Jazz training camp.

Over at the pool, Olympian champion Anthony Ervin has gotten creative and launched an Indiegogo campaign to support his bid to compete in the 2012 FINA World Cup Series. Another Olympic champion, Jason Lezak hosted a free swim clinic for youngsters in Colorado last weekend.

Finally, in baseball, the Brewers’ Ryan Braun is serving as the honorary chair at Aids Walk Wisconsin, which he will personally participate in this coming weekend in Milwaukee.

And in non-athletic news:

It seems like not a day goes by without word of what Lena Dunham is up to. The latest is that she looks smashing in British fashion magazine ASOS, and she has promised to introduce some racial diversity to “Girls.”

Sarah Jessica Parker , who is on the cover of the November issue of Elle, says she is done with playing Carrie Bradshaw-type characters.

Israeli President Shimon Peres was “attacked” by a plant that fell on him during a public event in his sukkah. It’s fun to watch how quickly his security detail zoomed in to deal with the offending shrub — and, better yet, how Peres thought to take out his comb and restyle his hair after the ordeal.

Gwyneth Paltrow ’s lifestyle company, Goop, is reportedly interested in producing a musical based on the music of 1980’s girl band the Go-Go’s.

Illusionist David Blaine ’s latest stunt is sure to be electrifying.

Law & Order SVU’s Richard Belzer tried and failed to make a rape joke and a Nazi salute seem funny during a FOX interview.

Once sexy, always sexy. Ellen Barkin made Entertainment Weekly’s list of the top TV hotties over 55.

Writer Jill Soloway ’s comedy series “Wendy & Peter” about a single working mom who becomes the right-hand woman of a kid-genius tech billionaire has been sold to FOX. Reese Witherspoon has signed on to executive produce.

Gadfly James Franco has yet another project: directing four short films and advertisements for shoe designer Stuart Weitzman. The films feature model Petra Nemcova and (of course) Weitzman’s shoes. Here is a look at the first in the series.

Have a gander at the plans for Israeli writer Etgar Keret ’s super-tiny house that architectural firm Centrala is designing to fit in a crack between two buildings in Warsaw.

We’ve already seen a clip, but now we can enjoy the official theatrical trailer for Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen ’s mother-son road movie to be released on Christmas. Looks like it will be a real trip.

Peter Coyote , Jason Alexander , Noah Wyle , Roseanna Arquette , along with a number of other civically minded actors and singers, are really hoping you were watching the Presidential debate last night instead of watching their shows and movies or listening to their music. They said so in an open letter disseminated by the Choose YOUR America campaign, a non-partisan educational initiative.

Your Stories

  • "I push wagons, I work with a shovel, I turn rotten in the rain, I shiver in the wind; already my own body is no longer mine: my belly is swollen, my limbs emaciated, my face is thick in the morning, hollow in the evening; some of us have yellow skin, others grey. When we do not meet for a few days we hardly recognize each other."Primo Levi, "Survival in Auschwitz"

  • "This holiday we take for ourselves,
 no longer silent servers behind the curtain, 
but singers of the seder,
 with voices of gladness,
 creating our own convocation,
 and leaving ‘The Narrow Place’ together."E.M. Broner

  • "The idea of opening the door is that we hope Elijah might actually be there this year – that we might actually have done enough to change the world to have had him arrive. And, if we don’t have even the tiniest bit in us that thinks he might be there, that thinks we have tried our hardest to bring around a messianic time, with no hunger, no war, no conflict, no pain – if we don’t believe that we have tried to end those broken parts in the world – well, then I tell my students – don’t do any of it."Rabbi Leora Kaye

  • "The whole seder, for me, is the tension between two statements: We say, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and now we’re free,' but before that, we pick up the matzoh, we invite the hungry in and we say, 'This year we are slaves, next year may we be free.' We are the most fortunate, liberated Jews in history. But on the other hand, there are lots of things that enslave us."Rabbi Arthur Green

  • "To tune of "Mack the Knife": "Enter Haman ben Hamdasa, /And he’s claimin’, he’s an Agagite. /Better look out, oh Hadassah/For that Haman—he’s an Amalekite./And though Haman, he’s in power now, That old Mordy, will not bow down. /Haman’s ego, it takes a powder now. And just like that—Amalek’s in town!""By Rabbi Jan Uhrbach

  • "Do you know that every shepherd/ has his own tune? / Do you know that every blade/ of grass has its own poem?/ And from the poem/ of the grasses,/ a tune of the shepherd/ is made./ How beautiful and/ pleasant to hear/ this poem!"Reb Nachman of Breslov's Likutei Moharan

  • "Tu B'Shvat is more than a New Year for Trees -- it is a call to action. To observe Tu B'Shvat isn't to read and pray, but to do, to plant, to place one's hands in contact with the Earth....While we may mark Tu B'Shvat as a Jewish Earth Day once a year, we are responsible as Jews to act as environmental stewards every day."David Krantz - Aytzim: Ecological Judaism

  • "Donniel Hartman said the miracle of Hanukkah is not just that the oil lasted 8 days; it’s actually that it lasted more than one. Would we have said, 'Dayenu,' (to mix metaphors,) if it had lasted two days? Would we have had a holiday? Probably, yes. The idea that we as a Jewish community, even in our darkest moments, hold out the hope that a candle is going to keep burning, I find very powerful."Rabbi Rachel Ain

  • "“We would all argue vehemently and work tireless against assimilation. But the Hellenists and we Reform Jews didn’t assimilate. We acculturate, and by doing so, provide a portal for continuity unavailable to those who continue a quasi-ghettoized existence with all the ramifications thereof, good and bad. The irony, rarely mentioned by those who use the Hanukah story to justify Orthodoxy, is that the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) lasted a century and a half before they disappeared, having taken on Greek names as High Priests and Kings. And Rabbinic Judaism, the first ‘reform’ movement, birthed all of us.”"Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein

  • "I find it refreshing to go from carrying the decomposing lulav and etrog in our hands in procession for 7 days (save for Shabbat), to carry absolutely nothing on Shemini Atzeret, to then carry a Torah on Simchat Torah. It’s like Judaism’s way of saying… ‘What you are carrying with you on this journey — Torah, lessons, stories, values, covenant, a connection with a higher power and history — all of the intangibles, you carry them with you on the tangible, tentative, twisting path of life."Rabbi Paul Jacobson

  • "Shemini Atzeret is conceptually an attempt to maintain the holiday relationship with God without any specific rituals. In modern times it has been become eclipsed by the joy and dancing of Simchat Torah. This speaks to the difficulty in a pure relationship without concrete modes of expression. It could be a reminder that our close relationships exist even when we don't exchange presents or cards."Rabbi Yosef Blau

  • "Sukkot is the reminder that it doesn't take two days or even two years to go from darkness to light. It might take an entire lifetime to get there and you have to constantly walk with the belief that it's possible."Rabbi Sharon Brous

  • "Yom Kippur: God is our judge. Sukkot: God is our shelter. Yom Kippur: you sit cooped up for endless hours. Sukkot is about space and breath. Yom Kippur, it’s all about, ‘What have I done?’ And Sukkot is, ‘What can I do in the world?’"Rabbi Naomi Levy

  • "The Rabbis in the Talmud spoke of the necessity of both sinai and oker harim, that is both those who collected traditions that were handed down and also those who literally “overturned mountains.” Essentially, the one group would not survive without the other. It is in the radical interpretations of the given traditions, and in the broad and fluent knowledge of the traditions that one is able to create radical new interpretations."Dr. Aryeh Cohen

  • ""I have never felt that repentence, prayer, and tzedakah would change my fate. Rather, I feel that through honest reflection, refinement, and a sense of responsibility, I do have incredible power to affect the decree for others.""Cantor Ellen Dreskin

  • "Teshuvah does invite us to begin again, but not from the beginning. Part of what it means to be human is to learn how to begin again and again – from right where we are, right in the messy middle of things. The Torah, according to an ancient midrash, reminds us of this truth by opening the story of creation itself with the letter Bet…Even when we have rolled the parchment scroll as far back as it will go, the letter Bet meets us there -- insisting that this story cannot be told from the very beginning. No story can. Beginnings elude us."Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

  • "This year our theme at Temple Emanuel Beverly Hills is “If not Now, When?” and we asked congregants to tweet their responses to #innwtebh or to fill out cards filling in the blanks :“If not now, when will I….” We will prepare these ‘intentions for the year” in a similar way, as a power point presentation scrolling quietly on the screen facing the congregation as individuals come forward silently in front of the open ark before neilah."Rabbi Laura Geller

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