Jews in the News
Posted by Nate Bloom
The Winter Olympics will be held from Feb. 6 until Feb. 23. Israel is sending a five-member team, none of whom are expected to medal. I know of one Jewish athlete on the American team and one on the Canadian team. If I learn of more, I will alert you next week.
The American is figure skater SIMON SHNAPIR, 26, who has competed in pairs skating with his partner, Marissa Casteilli, 26, since 2006. The duo won the 2013 and the 2014 U.S. championship in their event. Shnapir was born in Moscow, but immigrated to the States, with his parents, when he was 16 months old.
The Canadian is figure skater DYLAN MOSKOVITCH, 29, a native of Toronto, who competes in pairs with his partner, Kirsten Moore-Towers, 21. The duo has won several international competitions.
While the opening ceremonies are on Feb. 7---figure skating, including pairs skating, gets an early start---on Feb. 6. This year, for the first time, the scores in figure skating events, including pairs, will be used to determine a national team skating medal winner(s).
In case you’re wondering: American Gracie Gold, top figure skater, isn’t Jewish. Also, top American Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin has one Jewish grandparent (her paternal grandpa)—but she doesn’t identify as Jewish.
Last week, French choreographer Benjamin Millepied, 36, told an Israeli newspaper that he is converting to Judaism and is about halfway through the process. “Becoming Jewish is very important to me,” he told the paper.
Millepied wed actress NATALIE PORTMAN, 32, last year in a Jewish ceremony and the couple have a young son.
The actress met the very handsome Millepied when he choreographed the dances for “Black Swan” (2010). Portman went on to win the best actress Oscar for her role in that film. Millepied is set to take the post of Director of the Paris Opera ballet this September and Portman says that the whole family will primarily reside in Paris starting in the near future.
By the way, Millepied’s name, which isn’t a stage name, roughly translates to “a thousand feet.” One couldn’t ask for a better name for a choreographer.
Opening on Friday, Feb. 7, is “Monuments Men,” an action film which is based on the exploits of a real-life American army unit which was tasked with finding and rescuing the works of art which the Nazis had looted from all across Europe (a large percentage of the art was stolen from Jews). “Men” was directed and co-written by George Clooney. It was co-written by GRANT HESLOV, 50. Heslov has been Clooney’s writing and business partner for decades and the pair have shared two best screenplay Oscar nominations.
The real names of many unit members are used in the film and Clooney stars as George L. Stout, the name of the real-life unit head.
About half the real-life members of the unit were Jewish and Clooney said in an interview that two of the unit members will be identified as Jewish in the film. One probably is JAMES RORIMER (1905-1960), a top Metropolitan Museum curator who became Stout’s right hand man (played by Matt Damon). The other probably is Pvt. Preston Savitz, who is played by BOB BALABAN, 67.
Rorimer worked very closely with the real-life Rose Valland (played by Cate Blanchett), a French art curator who compiled, at some risk to herself, an amazingly complete list of Nazi-plundered art and the locations were it was stored. She turned this list over to the ‘Monuments Men’.
On Sunday, Feb. 9, CBS will mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first American TV appearance, on the Ed Sullivan Show, with a (tape) of a recent tribute concert (8-10PM). Musicians who performed a Beatles’ tune (s) included JOHN MAYER, 36, ADAM LEVINE, 34, and his band, Maroon 5, Alicia Keys, Dave Grohl, Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, and Katy Perry.
Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney each played a solo, three song set at the end of the concert. Then they joined all the other performers in an energetic finale. The concert included recorded celeb tributes and on-stage tributes to the late John Lennon and the late George Harrison. (Their respective widows and children were in the audience and acknowledged).
Also in the audience were Paul’s (Jewish) wife, NANCY SHEVELL, 53, and Ringo’s wife of 33 years, former actress and “Bond Girl” BARBARA BACH, 66. Bach’s late father was Jewish.