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The Schmooze

Emmy Opener Tells ‘Straight White Guy’ Andy Samberg ‘There’s No Room For You!’

In a well-intentioned Emmy opener so cringe-inducing that audience members may need to visit a chiropractor, two types of actors performed: Blonde, white women, and black men.

It’s a clever concept with a strong point: in the song, “We Solved It!” a gang of beloved comedy stars (Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Titus Burgess, Kristin Bell, Sterling K. Brown, RuPaul) highlight the fact that when Hollywood aims for “diversity” it means either race or gender. Women of color, specifically, are sidelined.

This bit may have been funnier if it did not, by its very existence, exclude actors of color. Sandra Oh, the first Asian woman to be nominated for an Emmy for best leading actress in a drama, got a line (“It’s an honor…just to be Asian.”)

Then, descending from the ceiling, hair akimbo, our friend Andy Samberg: “Is there any room in this song for a straight white guy like me?” he sings. The crew on stage agrees that there is not, and Andy skedaddles away. Leaving some of us thinking…you guys remember that this whole “Nazis are back” thing targets Jews, right? But not thinking it loudly enough to kill the vibes! As a man accused of attempted rape looks likely to assume the right to dictate judgment from the highest court in the land, we’re not looking to stroke white male egos — only to issue a gentle reminder that anti-Semitism is yet another thing we haven’t solved.

The perfunctory “Nazis are back” joke host Colin Jost and Michael Che predictably told about 40 seconds later was, once again, not that funny. But when are Nazis funny?

Oh right — just when Jews talk about them.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

The Schmooze

Jewish NFL Stud Julian Edelman Shares Pro-Israel New Year Greeting

Muscles rippling under a thin white t-shirt, head bowed beneath a polyester-sateen kippah, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman prayed at Jerusalem’s Western Wall in a new year greeting posted to social media.

Say that sentence six times and your ancestors will rise from their graves and start a spontaneous hora.

Edelman, a 32-year-old native Californian and twice-winner of the SuperBowl, has been on a spiritual journey. The Pats star, raised mostly in the Christian tradition, has spent the better part of a decade rediscovering the Jewish roots on his father’s side — celebrating Hanukkah, embracing Zionism, and leaning into Jewish culture. In June, Edelman was treated to essentially a hail mary (if you will) Birthright trip by the Boston-based federation Combined Jewish Philanthropies. In a video from CJP, Edelman can be seen enjoying a charmingly hasbara-soaked 10-day pilgrimage throughout the holiest of lands, shouting “yalla!” (Arabic slang meaning, “let’s go!”) and slinging footballs.

In a touching Instagram post on Saturday, Edelman shared photos from the trip with a reflective caption that alludes to the longtime football star’s recent violation of the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Edelman, who will sit out four games as a punishment for the violation, wrote: “It’s a very special time of year for both Pats nation and Jewish people all over the world with both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I’m usually in such an active mode around this time but this year I’m being more reflective and grateful.” Shana tovah, he added in Hebrew, hashtagging the post “Shabbat shalom.”

To top off the spectacle of an American football star sharing a profound Shabbos-teshuvah greeting with his fans, the fans in question immediately devolved into an in-comments dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bless them all, and may the gates of repentance and the field goal posts always be wide open to them.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

The Schmooze

Here’s The Millennial Jewish Dating State Of The Union

It was mid-week, and dreary, and the millennial dating panel was my third visit to a Jewish not-for-profit organization that day. I had already finished a day of work at the Forward, and gone to a meeting at a synagogue, and by the time I rushed uptown to the offices of the UJA-Federation, I was exhausted and a little resentful that I’d agreed to go — who exactly was the audience of a weeknight panel of random “dating” professionals, thrown by a Jewish not-for-profit organization? Over-involved parents? Truly desperate singles? I hoped for the event to include crackers, or punch, or something, envisioning sitting with about a dozen others in folding chairs in a threadbare church basement.

Al chet — I sinned against the American Jewish establishment unknowingly, by being young, and from the West Coast, and not doing a good pre-event Google.

The UJA-Federation is the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. Its headquarters occupy a major office building in midtown Manhattan — I learned, when I entered a lobby marked UJA and asked for “directions to the UJA.” I was sent to a gracious antechamber — a thickly carpeted room, tastefully decorated with Holocaust-themed art, and filled with what looked like extras for a cocktail party scene but were actually several hundred UJA Emerging Leaders. The room was lined with tables laden with scrupulously catered hors d’oeuvres and quality swag.

The women were handsome and hygienic-looking, like flight attendants in an American Airlines pamphlet. The men resembled youthful Hollywood step-dads, like Pierce Brosnan in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I could imagine myself going halfsies on a set of Bowl & Branch sheets and refurbishing a charming pre-war apartment with every single one of them. I have never beelined to a bar with such courage of conviction before.

In the standing-room-only event space, a board member for the UJA Young Professionals welcomed us, and introduced the evening’s moderator, Lindsay Metselaar, whose vocations were introduced in this order: podcaster, CEO of her own company, and Instagram food influencer. The rest of the panel consisted of:

Meredith Davis, head of communications at The League, a popular secular dating app that cultivates an air of exclusivity by keeping a wait list,

Jake Walker, the head of sales marketing at GIPHY, a popular website for creating and sharing gifs, much beloved by the Schmooze,

Jared Matthew Weiss, who, according to my notes, “hosts Touchpoint, a monthly town hall on the state of love and sex. The next one is on September 11th (9/11? Oy),”


Jonah Feingold, a Los Angeles-based writer and producer, whose work, I’m sure, is very wonderful, but whose qualifications for this panel seemed to be: being a single male.

Lindsay, with the air of an effective student government president, began with a rapid-fire question-answer session with her panelists — did they believe in monogamy? Yes, “one-hundred-and-twenty percent!” Though, they conceded, “There are many ways that work.” Who should pay for dates? Jake, of GIPHY, likes to split the check — it’s attractive, he said, to see that people can pay for themselves. Meredith, to applause from exactly half the room, announced that, “Until the gender wage gap evens out, I’m fine with men paying.” Should you go on coffee dates? “No, this isn’t a general meeting,” said Jonah. “It just turns into a 45 minute interview,” added Meredith. So where should you go?

“CLSs — cute little spots,” according to Jared. Like Cafe Cluny — by the way, have you all had their breakfast sandwiches? Have you had their grapefruit brûlée? Most of the panelists had experienced either the sandwiches or the brûlée, and were unanimous in their excellence. They also developed a running joke which involved the cliché nature of trips to Machu Pichu, which left the room roaring with laughter. How had so many people at the UJA Emerging Leaders event spent so much time at Machu Pichu that the very idea was now derivative to them? Full of Prosecco and craving a breakfast sandwich, I wondered how much I’d have to pay in taxes this year.

Meredith was armed with facts. “The only reason we added ‘religion’ as a preference was because the Jews were reaching out to customer service, saying — We can’t be on The League because we need to marry Jews,” she said, adding that the three most populous areas in New York City for Jews on the league are Midtown, the West Village, and the Upper East Side. But would the panelists convert for a partner? Would they expect a partner to convert?

Jake wouldn’t convert or expect a partner to do so, he said. His partner, who was present at the event, isn’t Jewish, and Jake recalled that from an early age his mom discouraged intermarriage. “I was seven, and thinking about Pokemon,” he remembered, “And she was like, ‘It’s easier if you marry someone Jewish!” Then he added, “But she’s the best mom in the world! And she’s going to listen to this 100 times, and I love you to death!” Meredith’s partner, she said, grew up observing some Jewish and some Christian practices, and is currently going through a quasi-conversion process with a rabbi.

Jared, the town hall leader, wore a backwards snapback hat and removed his shoes, stretching his bare feet over the stage as he sipped his beer thoughtfully. “The point of a relationship is to discover that you are a mythical creature capable of incredible things,” he said. “That thing might be conversion — maybe to religion. Maybe to being a Trump supporter.” He cut a surprisingly elegant figure, a gentleman bro with the cadence of a rabbi and the wisdom of a newly minted therapist. “Dating is hard because it creates an anxiety — ‘What if I never find my person?’” he mused. “The first step is facing that anxiety,” he said, adding, enigmatically swilling his beer, “There’s a certain serendipity just to being alive.” Later in the evening, he advised against asking a new partner the thorny question “What are we.” Instead, he offered, say, “What do you need?” and “What can I count on you for?”

If it sounds cloying, it wasn’t — it was mesmerizing. I would pay any amount, join any cult, convert to any shoe-less lifestyle to hear more of this barefoot bro’s wisdom.

Normally, Jewish young professional events are like a live cosplay of Facebook — everyone tries to put their best selves forward, but ends up lurking in the background in discomfort or entering into a verbal altercation with a stranger. The UJA young professional event was like Instagram cosplay - I felt like I was being being bathed in a hot vat of essential oils, and I hated how much I enjoyed the feeling. I feel certain the first Jewish president and my third husband were both in the room.

We learned a few more facts. From Meredith: “If you’re initiating on a dating app, the best way to get a response is “Hey + insert their name + question base on their photos or interests.” From Jake: “A gif raises the likelihood of a response by 30%” And from all of them, the importance of talking about “philanthropy” with your significant other.

I left with some swag — a canvas tote reading, “Kvetch Less, Volunteer More!” which I have since stained. I was so overwhelmed — by the brave new world of podcasting CEOs and philosophy bros, and the brave old world of luxury and excess that help philanthropic organizations cultivate generosity — that I almost missed the sight of the panelists’ parents streaming out of the audience, reaching out to embrace their children.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny


As Florence Turns Deadly, Trump Tweets Geraldo On Puerto Rico Toll

Hurricane Florence lashed the Carolinas on Friday, killing at least 5 as it roared ashore — and officials warned the worst could be yet to come.

Yet President Trump remained fixated on why he is widely blamed for the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year.

Trump approvingly quoted Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera’s Tweet saying the botched response was not entirely Trump’s fault on Friday night.

Trump claims the official death toll of about 3,000 from Maria was inflated to embarrass him. Apparently taking time out from leading the response to Florence, the president Tweeted five separate times about Maria.

Trump insists his response to Maria was an “unsung success” and has spent a good portion of the past few days branding the official death toll fake news and arguing that few died from the storm in Puerto Rico.

Rivera, who claims Puerto Rican as well as Jewish heritage, also suggested that the answer to Puerto Rico’s woes would be statehood, and the power of senators and members of Congress. Trump didn’t comment on that suggestion, which would almost certainly boost Democratic numbers.

The Schmooze

Ivanka Trump Fears Her Father May Be Impeached

Just days ago, on Rosh Hashanah, Ivanka Trump was all smiles. Ushering in the new year with her husband, White House advisor Jared Kushner, and her children, she wished Jews a happy new year in a series of pictures depicting the family apple-picking. As is always the case with Ivanka Trump, the scene looked perfect.

On Friday, Vanity Fair reported that sources inside the White House say President Trump continues to panic about the anonymous “Resistance” op-ed by a Trump administration insider, printed in the New York Times. And another source told the magazine that Ivanka Trump herself fears that her father will face impeachment.

Meanwhile, the late-August subpoena to Michael Cohen of the Trump Foundation’s tax records, as well as other charges against the foundation, could have legal ramifications for those close to Trump, including Ivanka Trump herself.

We’ll know more as leaks continue to trickle from the White House like the dew rolling off freshly-picked apples.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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