Joel Schatz

Joel Schatz offers a slightly off-center look at the news.


Pregnancies, poop, Prozac and more

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If only ‘ER’ were still on the air 
So, according to the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, a 24-year-old man walked into an emergency room in central Israel this month and informed doctors that he was seven months pregnant.

And, apparently, he really is.

The man, who was wearing a goatee, was born a woman and underwent a sex-change operation three years ago, but retained the female reproductive organs. Now married to a man, he is reported to be the first Israeli transgender to be pregnant.

Doctors said the pregnancy is proceeding as planned.

Speaking of pregnant men...
On stage in China, the hot hit now touring is a rousing comedy called “Hitler’s Belly.”

It’s a production that, as Isaac Stone Fish reports in the online magazine, Tablet, “answers the eternal question of what the world’s most notorious dictator looks like when portrayed by an overweight Chinese man pretending to be pregnant. It mixes snippets from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, old newsreel footage, slapstick with Chinese sensibilities, and an extended fart joke. As Hitler prepares to give birth, Chaplin—also a character in the play—wanders the bunker, impersonating Hitler to his underlings. Chaplin spars with Hitler, and then everyone raps. Genocide is not mentioned.”

Playing to packed houses of 20- and 30-somethings, “Hitler’s Belly” doesn’t deal with Jews or Jewish issues, Fish says, but does take sarcastic swipes at Chinese bureaucracy and economic issues. And the show’s popularity presumably mirrors one of the dichotomies of Chinese culture.

“In China,” Fish notes, “Hitler isn’t known for the Holocaust, but rather for achieving social stability with a very high human cost… Bizarrely, support for Hitler does not in any way suggest disdain for Jews. On the contrary: Chinese people on the whole are very approving of Judaism and Jewish culture, seeing Jews as experts in both moneymaking and child rearing, with a long history and a strong tradition of education.”

Flash! It’s Elul 
In case no one posted it to your Facebook wall, one byproduct of the social media explosion is the flash mob. Someone conjures up an off-beat event, sends the word off into the ether, then waits to see what happens.

At the preordained time and very public place, everyone joining in—no one’s ever sure who will show up, or how many—starts doing whatever weird thing they were told to do, much to the bepuzzlement of uninformed onlookers. Then, in a flash, they stop doing whatever they were doing, and simply blend back into the crowd.

Jews, of course, could never let such a phenomenon pass them by. Spontaneous horas have broken out in public squares around the world. And on Sept. 18, flashers (mobsters?) at sites from Budapest to Oregon ambushed unsuspecting hordes with a cacophony of shofar blasts, all welcoming in the impending New Year.

In Chicago, the blasters, rallied by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, serenaded the throng gathered outside Wrigley Field on game day. If you “like” the video, be sure to tweet the link. (I sure hope that whatever I just said is G-rated.)

The ultimate pooper scooper law 
The Israeli city of Petach Tikvah is considering a law that, according to the Jerusalem Post, “would allow inspectors to test the DNA of dog feces left in the streets and sidewalks, and send a ticket to the owner of the dog matching the DNA of the abandoned excrement.”

Before that could happen, a doggie DNA database would be created from saliva samples taken when owners bring their pets in for the annual rabies shot. If the law is passed, it reportedly would be the first of its kind, and would take about a year and a half to implement.

Is that sweet & sour sauce on your punim? 
The hot new destination for New York foodies is a tiny Chinese spot called RedFarm, a creation conceived and launched by—to quote the food columnist for—“a portly, bespectacled Chinese-food nerd named Ed ‘Eddie Glasses’ Schoenfeld ... a Jewish guy from Brooklyn.”

As colorful a character as Schoenfeld is, the link between Jewish restaurateurs and Chinese food is far from unprecedented, according to the columnist, Josh Ozersky. And, of course, neither is the link between Jewish restaurant patrons and Chinese food.

Noting with relief that RedFarm makes just one attempt at creating Jewish-Chinese fusion cuisine – in the form of pastrami egg rolls – Ozersky contends there is no need for such experiments “because Chinese food is itself already Jewish food. We like it more than our own cuisine – and who could blame us?”

Ozersky, who at one point refers to Chinese food as “Jewish Prozac,” then devotes the rest of his column to a truncated history of Jews’ love of Chinese food, especially carryout, and to speculating about how such an affaire de cuisine came to pass.

Government leak
Multitasking took an embarrassing form after Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman was collared for an impromptu live interview with an early morning current events program on Israel radio.

The senior cabinet minister chose, by the sound of it, to go about his business as he fielded questions on the fly from Reshet Bet (the 2nd Channel of the Voice of Israel radio). The closing sector of the short interview – in which Lieberman sounded off regarding the true face of Hamas – dovetailed with the unmistakable sound of a flushing toilet broadcast over the airwaves – turning the off-the-cuff comments of a somewhat flushed Lieberman’s into the talk of the town. (Ynet News)



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