Hollywood Yenta Roundup: Amy Winehouse, JGL and William Shatner…

by JDateAdministrator under Entertainment,JFacts,Judaism,News

This Week’s Top Three Tweet-Worthy Events From Jews Who Make News

1. Amy Winehouse Wins Posthumous Grammy

Amy Winehouse won a Grammy® award for “Best Pop Performance by a Duo” for her duet with Tony Bennett last Sunday. The Jewish singer’s parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse, accepted the award for Winehouse who died last year at the age of 27, following a battle with drugs and alcohol.

The Grammys congratulated Winehouse on their Twitter feed by writing, “Congratulations to Best Pop Duo/Group Performance winner Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse “Body and Soul” #GRAMMYs @itstonybennett.”


2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Becomes A Triple Threat

We all know Joseph Gordon-Levitt can act, but it turns out he can write and direct as well. The Jewish actor will direct and co-star alongside Scarlett Johansson in a new film he wrote.

The movie is set to begin filming this spring. In the meantime, Gordon-Levitt is taking to Twitter to show off some of his other writing pursuits in this Valentine’s Day Tweet, “And now, a TINY STORY for Valentines Day… http://tmblr.co/ZfxHVyGQdvmz #BelieveInTinyStories #HAPPYVALENTINES ♥♥♥.”


3. Shatner Beams Down To Broadway

On Thursday, William Shatner opened his new one-man show, “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It.” The show is an all-encompassing look at the Jewish actor’s career which spans Shakespearean roles to the part of Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek and beyond.

The 80-year-old actor will appear at the Music Box Theatre in New York for nearly three weeks before taking his show on a national tour. On Tuesday, Shatner Tweeted, “OK Broadway here I am! My best, Bill.” Looks like Broadway is Shatner’s final frontier.

Star Trek: The Search for Judaism Part 1

by JewishFactFinder under Entertainment,JFacts,Judaism
Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock

Photo Date: 1966 Photo by Ken Whitmore - All Rights Reserved, 1978 Ken Whitmore - Image courtesy MPTV.net

In light of the current J.J. Abrams cinematic reboot of the Star Trek franchise, the JFacts team decided to dig a little deeper and see what impact Jewish people have had on this ever-evolving cultural phenomenon. First and foremost, you should know that three members of Star Trek: The Original Series (or TOS in geekier circles) are, in fact, Jewish.

William Shatner as Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Before negotiating the terms of air travel and hotel stays for Priceline.com, Shatner negotiated through space and time as Captain of the USS Enterprise. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Shatner’s grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Hungry. Shatner’s grandfather was born Wolf Schattner and later anglicized the family name to Shatner. After the initial 1966-69 run of Star Trek, Shatner reprised the role of James Kirk in seven subsequent Star Trek films,starred as the title role in T.J. Hooker and won an Emmy for his performance as attorney Denny Crane in Boston Legal.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock

Leonard Nimoy was born in 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts to Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants from Izyaslav, Ukraine. After starring in over 50 television and film roles, Nimoy was cast as Mr. Spock in Star Trek and received three Emmy nominations for playing the complicated half-human, half-Vulcan character. Nimoy would go on to star in seven subsequent Star Trek film adaptations, including 2009’s Star Trek, and directtwo of the films, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and the most successful of the original film adaptations, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Nimoy also directed the 1986 hit comedy Three Men and Baby starring Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg.

Walter Koenig as Pavel Checkov

Koenig was born in 1936 in Chicago, Illinois to Jewish immigrants from Russia who upon coming to the United States shortened their last name from Konigsberg to Koenig. Koenig was added to the cast of Star Trek because of his resemblance to The Monkees star Davy Jones, in an attempt to woo a younger audience. The character was also added because of an article in Pravda (the central publication of the Soviet Union), which complained about the lack of Russians in Star Trek. After the run of the initial television series, Koenig rejoined the cast of Star Trek for six subsequent films and was a frequent cast member n the TV series Babylon 5. Koening stood as best men for Trek cast mate George Takei (Sulu) in his highly-publicized 2008 wedding to Brad Altman.

The Vulcan Salute

One of the most famous lines in Star Trek is the Vulcan salutation, “Live long and prosper,” which is usually accompanied by a hand salute with an extended thumb and a v-shape made by spreading the index and ring fingers. This salute was created by Leonard Nimoy on the fly during the filming of the first episode of the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series. Nimoy felt there should be a distinct greeting amongst Vulcans, something akin to a handshake, so he adopted a gesture similar to what was used in the synagogue he attended as a youth. The Jewish gesture he co-opted for Star Trek is half of the original blessing used by the kohanim, whom are genealogical descendents of Jewish priests from the Jerusalem Temple. The true blessing used for Jewish worship uses both hands. As the Vulcan salute seeped into pop culture, many incorrectly assumed it was a tip of the hat to the hippie culture that arose around the same time. It was not until much later when Nimoy revealed the secret of the salute, that its Jewish origins were made public.