Good morning, New York! Today we remember a comic legend who, for better or worse, represented an iconic New York Jewish life.
JACKIE MASON DIES
Jackie Mason, who died here Saturday at 93, was one of the last survivors of the Borscht Belt comedy circuit.
- Mason, born Yacov Moshe Maza to Orthodox immigrant parents and raised mostly on the Lower East side, offered a window into the American Jewish psyche for non-Jews. For Jews, he reflected their complicated relationship with their Americanness. (Watch career highlights here.)
- Before becoming a regular in the Catskills, clubs and on TV variety shows, he earned a degree from City College and was ordained a rabbi at Yeshiva University.
- In a career that waxed and waned, his biggest triumph was “The World According to Me!,” a one-man Broadway comeback that opened in 1986 and ran for two years. It earned him a Tony and an Emmy, a vast new audience, and a recurring role — as Krusty the Clown’s father, a rabbi — on “The Simpsons.”
- Not every one got the joke. His act played on ethnic and gender stereotypes that ultimately went out of favor, as he complained. Campaigning for Rudy Giuliani in 1989, he referred to David N. Dinkins, the Black mayoral candidate, with a Yiddish word considered to be a racial slur. Giuliani fired him.
- Fair enough: “A comic genius and a pain in the ass. This man could get a laugh reading the weather. His rhythms and delivery were master classes in comedy. Farewell, Jackie. Farewell.” — Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein
- The last laugh: “The only persecution that I ever suffered from in my career was from Jews that are embarrassed that I am so Jewish,” he said in one routine.
THE BEN & JERRY’S BROUHAHA
Gristedes became the latest local grocery store chain to punish Ben & Jerry’s for boycotting West Bank settlements.
- “I authorized our stores to cut Ben & Jerry’s space by 30% & not advertise until further notice,” owner and CEO John A. Catsimatidis tweeted Sunday.
- Related: New York and four other states are considering sanctions agains the ice cream company, our partners at JTA report. An executive order signed by Gov. Cuomo in 2016 bans the state from doing business with companies observing the Israel boycott, although it’s not clear if settlement boycotts are included.
- The main pension fund for New York’s state government workers and retirees warned Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, on Friday that it might restrict its investments in the company, The New York Post reports.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
The death of a 13-year-old girl who attended a Jewish summer camp upstate has “stunned members of Brooklyn’s tight-knit Hasidic community,” WNYC/Gothamist reports.
- The cause of Chaya Sury Gold’s death July 14 is officially “undetermined,” but health officials and some campers’ families are critical of Camp Rav Tov’s COVID-19 protocols.
- Two people with connections to Rav Tov told WNYC/Gothamist that the camp was not performing regular screenings, despite assurances from staff otherwise. Ulster County officials say health information at Rav Tov has not been forthcoming, and worry about the possibility of an undisclosed outbreak.
- The upshot: Severe COVID cases among children are rare, but as the delta variant spreads, officials want to keep it that way.
A few dozen pro-Palestinian activists gathered Sunday at the port in Elizabeth, N.J. to protest an Israeli-operated cargo ship.
- The ZIM Qingdao, operated by the Israeli shipping company ZIM, is docked at the Maher Terminal. Similar calls to block Israeli-operated ships in California have drawn thousands.
TODAY’S BIG IDEA
Born in seaside Odessa, novelist Alina Adams bonds with her parents — and now her daughter — during long walks on Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. “When it comes to tying together generations — in a novel or in real life — there is nothing more unifying, more constant, or more primal than the beach,” she writes in Kveller.
WHAT’S ON TODAY
National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene presents “A Yiddish Renaissance,” a virtual celebration of the revival in Yiddish in art, culture and learning. Featuring a global cast of over 140 performers, including casts of NYTF productions such as “Fiddler Afn Dakh” (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish). Registration required at www.nytf.org/renaissance. The program will be viewable from July 26 at 2:00 pm until July 30 at 2:00 pm.
- Read a profile of Zalman Mlotek, the influential Yiddishist and artistic director of the Folksbiene, who put together the show.
Dr. Edna Nahshon discusses S. Anski’s play “The Dybbuk” and its various interpretations, focusing on its two foundational productions and the 1936 Polish Yiddish film. Register for this Jewish Theological Seminary event here. 2:00 pm.