Jews in the News: Amy Schumer, Scarlett Johansson and Craig Breslow

Inside Stuff on Amy Schumer

Here’s some interesting sidelight about Inside Stuff on Amy Schumer

Here’s some interesting sidelight about AMY SCHUMER, 34, who has become a major cultural figure in the last year. Recently, a friend referred to me a July, 2015 article on the Religion News Service web site:  “Confessions of Amy Schumer’s Childhood Rabbi”.  The author is Rabbi JEFFREY SALKIN. From 1988-1995, he was the rabbi of a Long Island Reform synagogue that Amy and her family belonged to.  He presided over Amy’s bat mitzvah, as well as the bar mitzvah of her older half-brother, JASON STEIN (Amy’s mother, SANDY, was divorced from Jason’s father when Jason was quite young). The rabbi recalled liking the whole family very much, including Amy’s father, GORDON SCHUMER. As for Amy, he says: I remember [her] as a sweet, funny kid, who often asked probing and humorous questions in religious school.”

About Sandy Schumer, the rabbi writes: “[Sandy] was on the temple board, and chaired the education committee.” My friend and I were a little confused by this statement. He’s a family history expert and he traced Amy’s mother’s family and found no Jewish ancestry. Amy has at least once referred to herself as “half Jewish” (more on that below). I know that some Reform temples have non-Jews on their board, but it is still pretty rare—and wouldn’t chair of the education committee be an “odd fit” for a non-Jew? Well, I wrote the rabbi, who now serves a Hollywood, Florida temple as a senior rabbi, and asked him awkward questions: “Is Sandy Schumer a Jew-by-Choice?"—and, if not, "I think it is worth telling my readers that non-Jews do serve on temple boards (many of my readers, I know, don’t know this)". The rabbi replied in one sentence: “Sandy Schumer is Jewish.” 

I guess you can see where I’m going—it’s apparent that Amy’s mother is a Jew-by-Choice and those bios that describe Amy as “half” have to be re-written. As for Amy describing herself as “half Jewish”---well, it was in the context of a jocular exchange in which that comment made “comic sense.” (Amy Schumer’s Comedy Central series, “Inside Amy,” begins its fourth season on April 21.)

At the Movies: Opening Friday, April 15

“Criminal” is a high-powered action flick, directed by ARIEL VROMEN, 43, an Israeli who served in the elite 669 IDF unit (Airborne Evacuation and Rescue). In a last ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot, the memories, secrets and skills of a dead CIA agent, Billy Pope (Ryan Reynolds), are surgically implanted into Jericho (Kevin Costner), a dangerous death-row inmate. The CIA hopes that he will complete Pope’s mission. The surgery also implants Pope’s deep love for his wife and family and his strong sense of responsibility. Israeli GAL GADOT, 30, who plays Pope’s wife, meets with Jericho to re-enforce his new sense of purpose. Tommy Lee Jones plays the surgeon, with Gary Oldman as the head of the CIA. (Opens Friday, April 15)

Gadot, of course, is now famous as “Wonder Woman” and while “Batman v. Superman” didn’t get great reviews—her stunning red carpet dress for the film’s premiere led “W” magazine to recently comment: “It’s Wonder Woman’s world, we’re just living in it.”

JON FAVREAU, 49, is the director of a new Disney animated version of “The Jungle Book,” the Kipling classic. It is billed as a re-imagining of the 1967 Disney version that is truer to the original Kipling stories than the 1967 film. Jewish thespians who provide the voice of important characters include: Favreau (Pygmy Hog); SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 31 (“Kaa”); the late GARRY SHANDLING (“Ikki”), and SAM RAIMI, 56, as Giant Squirrel. Best known as a director, Raimi (“Spider-Man” Trilogy) takes a little acting job occasionally. Many big-time actors and directors readily agree to be in film they can watch with their kids. Raimi has five children with his wife GILLIAN GREENE, 48 (the daughter of the late LORNE “Bonanza” GREENE.)

The Tribe on the Diamond

The new baseball season has begun and here are the Jewish players on a major league team roster as of opening day: RYAN BRAUN, 31, outfielder, Milwaukee; CRAIG BRESLOW, 35, relief pitcher, Miami; SCOTT FELDMAN, 33, pitcher, Houston; NATE FREIMAN, 29,  first base, Washington; SAM FULD, 34, outfielder, Oakland; IAN KINSLER, 33, infielder, Detroit ; JOC PEDERSON, 23, outfielder, Los Angeles; KEVIN PILLAR, 27, outfielder, Toronto; DANNY VALENCIA, 31, outfielder, Oakland. Valencia, a Miami native, is the son of an American Jewish mother and a Cuban father who became Jewish, too. Danny had a bar mitzvah.


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