Cut & Post
In Hollywood, where actors are routinely harassed by paparazzi, a former Israeli commando is parlaying his security expertise into the business of protecting celebrities. Aaron Cohen, a 32-year-old Beverly Hills native who moved to Israel and joined the Israeli Army’s elite Duvdevan unit, runs IMS (Israeli Military Specialists) Security.
Cohen only employs Israelis who have served in the Jewish state’s top ranks. He posts advertisements in the lunchroom of his old unit. It is a way, he said, of giving back to the boys who accepted him into their culture and gave him the experience of serving at the highest levels of the Israel Defense Forces.
“I had an amazing experience in Israel and I want to return the favor,” he said. “I give them an opportunity to make excellent money, which they don’t have in Israel.”
Cohen, whose clientele has included Brad Pitt, Jackie Chan and Eva Longoria, still maintains a home in Herzliya.
Ruth Gruber, 96-year-old doyenne of American journalists, is amazed at the success of the recent publication in England ofExodus 1947: The Ship That Launched a Nation (Union Square), her account of the journey of Jewish refugees to Palestine aboard the Exodus.
It is no wonder the original book, published in America 60 years ago, did not win British hearts and minds. Gruber witnessed the British interception of the ship, which held 4,500 Holocaust survivors and an American crew in international waters. The troops used tear gas, guns and truncheons, causing three deaths.
In an interview in The Sunday Express newspaper, Gruber said she “was ready to come here 60 years ago and shake people by the lapels… and ask ‘How could we let this happen and make people who had already suffered so much suffer still more.’”
Reserve Duty: Keeping Your Brain Fit
A new study released by Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alzheimersanddementia.org) is heralding a drop in cognitive impairment rates (CI) for seniors over 70. According to findings, the decline in dementia is related to greater education and wealth.
In 1993, 12.2 percent of Americans over 70 had CI; by 2002, the rate was 8.7. Participants from 2002 surveys on average had one additional year of schooling and $70,000 more in net worth compared to earlier study respondents. Researchers suggest that education translates to expanded cognitive reserve and brains more able to withstand damage caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Mentally demanding careers and leisure-time activities also contribute to brain health. Increased wealth, it is thought, leads to better health care intervention.
Researchers concluded that “Societal investment in building and maintaining cognitive reserve…might help limit the burden of dementia among the growing number of older adults worldwide.”
Shattering the Semikha Ceiling
While Reform and Conservative women have been receiving rabbinical ordination for decades, Orthodox women have not. Now, those women will have the opportunity to become rabbis too as part of a new program at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem (www.hartmaninstitute.com). The four-year course will focus on providing top-quality education to students who plan to teach in Jewish high schools in North America.
Institute director Rabbi Donniel Hartman emphasizes the degree is not for training pulpit rabbis, but is for future teachers who will inspire teenagers to make informed Jewish choices.
“We’re happy to give the title rabbi to women,” said Hartman. “There is no reason, if a woman is a master teacher, not to recognize her as such.”
Swinging Under a Jewish Star
Energy pulsed through the former Big Apple Nightclub in Columbia, South Carolina, one evening last February when 50 lindy hoppers spun to the sounds of a live jazz band.
The swing dancers had come to pay homage to the building’s history as the spot where the popular dance was invented in the 1930s.
But before earning fame as a nightclub, the modest wood-frame structure was home to Beth Shalom, the city’s first Orthodox synagogue, built in 1907. By the mid-1930s, the building had been sold to Fat Sam, who ran a popular jukebox joint. His club was for blacks only, but a few white kids begged to be admitted until they were allowed to watch from the upstairs balcony where the women used to pray.
Later, the building (above) went through a series of owners. In 1979, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and stayed vacant until a community organization renovated it in the late 1980s. The nonprofit Historic Columbia Foundation (www.historiccolumbia.org) bought the building in 1993 and has since opened it for events such as February’s swing dance workshop. The original stained-glass Star of David still tops the domed ceiling, juxtaposed with replicas of neon stars from its nightclub days.
Pellin (above) acts as news anchor, covering Jewish and world news with humor and adding feedback from Jews and non-Jews on the street. He says he aims to “revolutionize religious entertainment that talks to this generation.”
Based on The Mendy Report’s success, in February, Pellin began producing “AskMosesTV,” a segment related to the Web sitewww.askmoses.com that blends cartoons, comedy and entertainment featuring renowned rabbis and lecturers who teach Judaism and Kabbala with fun and appeal.
“People want to be entertained, not looked down on by a rabbi,” Pellin says. The shows are in memory of his grandmother, Hermine Kollin, a past regional president of Hadassah in Queens who encouraged Pellin to see Judaism positively.
—Sara Trappler Spielman
When Ranit Budaie-Hyman, 32, gave birth to her third child, a son, and went back to work as a parliamentary assistant to Member of Knesset Michael Melchior, she wanted to continue breastfeeding. But, although Israel has promoted nursing for decades, the only places in the Knesset for pumping milk—the women’s toilets and the nurses’ clinic—seemed unhygienic. And there is little privacy in the visitors’ balcony, where, during the inauguration of President Shimon Peres last year, one of his granddaughters nursed her baby.
So with Melchior’s backing, Budaie-Hyman (above, with her son) wrote to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, asking that she set aside a room for nursing mothers. Itzik quickly forwarded the request to Knesset Director General Avi Balashnikov, who responded by saying that the Knesset would set an example for other workplaces. Now, a room next to the nurses’ clinic, with two armchairs, a refrigerator and a changing table, is available for both staff and visitors. Budaie-Hyman says proudly, “This is my first baby who has not had a drop of breast-milk substitute.”