Brad Wilk, Al Kooper and Bob Dylan

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.

Rock Hall of Fame, Celeb Roots, Coben’s ‘Changing’ Characters


On January 1, ABC will broadcast (8PM) a heavily edited video of the 2023 induction of persons into the Rock Hall of Fame. The ceremony happened on Nov. 3, 2023. Disney, which owns ABC, streamed the whole 2023 ceremony live (a first!). You can watch a video of that live event on Disney+ or you can watch the edited version on ABC.

The influential and popular four-man band “Rage Against the Machine” was inducted. Their drummer is BRAD WILK, now 55. “Rage” was formed in 1991 and, after 2000, they had several “break-ups” and reunions. They currently are together and playing concerts. Nice to note: When “Rage” played in Israel in 2000, Wilk recited a Shabbos blessing before his Israeli audience.

AL KOOPER, 79, was inducted in a Hall category called “the award for musical excellence.” Basically, this means persons who may or may not be musicians (but usually are) who have helped create great music for a long period.

Kooper plays guitar, horns, and keyboards. Here’s some Kooper highlights: He has occasionally backed BOB DYLAN. In 1965, he was almost unknown when he created, and played now-famous organ riffs on the first recording of Dylan’s great song “Like a Rolling Stone”; he played piano, organ, and French horn on the Rolling Stones classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”; he founded Blood Sweat and Tears, but left before their big hits (I think his one LP with “BS&T” is better than their “hit stuff”); he discovered Lynard Skynard and produced their first three albums. He played organ on Skynard’s iconic song “Free Bird”.

On Jan.2, the 10th season of  the hit PBS ancestry series “Finding Your Roots”, begins. (Check local schedules). The date when a celeb will appear on “Roots” is currently incomplete on the PBS site. As I write this, the date MICHAEL DOUGLAS (below) will appear is not yet announced.

Here are this season’s Jewish celebs : LENA DUNHAM, 37, is the best known for starring-in, and writing the hit HBO series “Girls”. Her father isn’t Jewish and her mother is Jewish. She identifies as Jewish (appears in episode 9; April 2 ); ILIZA SHLESINGER, 40, is a stand-up comedian and author. She’s had several Netflix specials and she’s appeared in a few acting roles. She wed (2018) her husband, NOAH GAULTEN, 40, a prominent restaurant owner and food writer, in a “very lovely” Jewish ceremony (appears in episode 5, Jan. 30); and Michael Douglas, 79. Of course, he is the son of the late KIRK DOUGLAS.

Michael’s mother wasn’t Jewish and Michael wasn’t religious most of his life. However, for reasons that are too involved to detail here, about 10 years ago he began identifying as a Reform Jew. I will just note that his son, DYLAN, wanted to study Judaism, and have a bar mitzvah, and that influenced Michael. Dylan, now 21, had his bar mitzvah (2015) in Jerusalem and, in 2015, Michael received the prestigious Genesis Prize for “Jewish achievement”.

“Fool Me Once” is an 8-episode original series that premieres on Netflix on Dec, 31. It is based on a novel of the same name by best-selling author HARLEN COBEN, 60. His first novel, "Play Dead" (1990) was the first in a series of big selling mysteries and thrillers. Coben, who had a bar mitzvah ceremony, grew-up in New Jersey.

Recently, Coben’s books have been made into successful mini-series. In 2021, his novel “Gone for Good” (2002) was turned into a Netflix mini-series and, in 2022, his novel “Shelter” turned into an Amazon Prime series.

“Funny thing”: Both novels were set in the U.S.A. and both had clearly Jewish major characters. Both series had no mention that any character was Jewish and “Gone for Good” was “re-set” in France.

Many kvetch that Jewish character roles go too frequently to non-Jewish actors. More damaging, I think, is the constant practice of erasing the Jewish background of a character when a novel, comic book story, etc., is filmed. Sadly, I can’t get into the  “whys” here.

The “Fool Me Once” series takes place in the UK (novel in America),  The name of the novel’s lead character, Maya Stern, hasn’t been changed for the series. (Stern’s ethnic background is ambiguous in the novel). Here’s the capsule premise: Maya thinks her husband has been murdered until she spots him on a recent video. Meanwhile her nephew and niece are looking into their mother’s murder and the question is: are the two cases related?


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