Friday Five: Prisoner X, Jack Antonoff, Pope Benedict XVI, Karen Gould, Sarah Silverman’s family


Prisoner X has a name

Ben Zygier, an Australian immigrant to Israel who might have been connected to the Mossad, takes his own life in 2010 in a tightly monitored cell in one of Israel’s highest security prisons. Beyond these bare details, little is known about the man known only as Prisoner X prior to an investigative report this week by an Australian news channel. The story made headlines around the world and compelled Israel to offer its first official acknowledgment of Zygier’s existence on Wednesday. But the government remains tight-lipped, and it’s unclear whether the full story of Zygier’s incarceration and death will ever be known.

Jack Antonoff takes home the Grammys

You might not know his name, but his song has been nearly unavoidable in the last year. The chart-topping “We Are Young,” co-written by Jack Antonoff and his bandmates from Fun., earned one of two Grammy Awards the band took home this week. The other was Best New Artist. Antonoff, who is from New Jersey, attended the Solomon Schechter Day School and for a time dated Scarlett Johansson. Along with Drake, who won for Best Rap Album, it was nearly as Jewish a night as the Oscars. OK, not really.


Pope calls it quits

Benedict XVI shocked the world on Monday when he became the first pope in six centuries to resign the papacy, citing ill health. The announcement prompted a round of plaudits for the pope from Jewish leaders. But many also noted several Jewish bones of contention with the Vatican under Benedict’s leadership: the revival of the Latin Mass, with its prayer for Jewish conversion; the rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop; the advance of Holocaust-era Pope Pius closer to sainthood.




Karen Gould’s headache

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Brooklyn College President Karen Gould. Last week she stood firm as a phalanx of city and state politicians demanded the school cancel an event at which two prominent advocates of BDS –- the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel — would appear. This week, Gould was faced with claims from several Jewish students that they were evicted from the event solely because of their religion and political orientation. The school said it was launching an investigation of the charges.

Sarah Silverman’s family crashes Kotel

For years, members of the advocacy group Women of the Wall have been getting themselves in trouble at the Kotel. This week they got more attention than normal thanks in part to a tweet from a famous fan. Comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted her support for the group because her sister and teenage niece were among those arrested for donning tallis prayer shawls at the Western Wall. “SO proud of my amazing sister @rabbisusan & niece @purplelettuce95 for their ballsout civil disobedience,” Silverman tweeted. Hallel Abramowitz, 17, tweeted back: “hey auntie, want a copy of my mugshot?”

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