Jews in the News: David Warsofsky, Indina Menzel and Daniel Braverman

Catch-Up Sports Corner

The NHL season, of course, has been on-going since October, But, I finally have a chance to clue you into the Jews on ice. There are three Jews playing in the NHL this year, and two others with some Jewish ancestry who, unlike some journalists, I wouldn’t call Jewish. In the latter group, there’s Washington’s Andre Burakovsky, a left wing, and Jason Demers, a Florida defenseman. In the former group, there’s DAVID WARSOFSKY, 25, a defenseman who has bounced between the NHL and the minors for three seasons. This year, Warsofsky has played six games (so far) for Pittsburgh.

Doing much better is JASON ZUCKER, 24, a good forward who has solidified his place on the Minnesota roster in the last two years. Last, but not least, is ZACH HYMAN, 24, a Toronto left winger. He joined Toronto at the end of last season and is doing fine this season. He won just about every athletic related award the Univ. of Michigan could give him and he was an academic all-American. Fun fact: He’s a best-selling children’s book author. He has two books out so far, including one about Babe Ruth. He’s recently signed a new two-book deal with Penguin.

Finally, let me mention the aptly named DANIEL BRAVERMAN, 23, a Western Michigan (football) wide receiver who defied the odds (7th round draft pick) and made the Chicago Bears active roster on Nov. 25 and played three games before the Bears season ended. He’s only 5’10 and a practicing Jew—both rare things in the NFL. Last April, “Sports Illustrated” profiled him. He grew up in a normal, but pretty secular South Florida Jewish home. Then, when he was about 10 years old, his mother left home without warning or explanation and never returned. Daniel eventually found solace in Judaism and, with the aid of a religious uncle, studied and had a bar mitzvah at age 15 (the bar mitzvah was just him; his rabbi, and his uncle). Daniel continued to practice in the years to follow.

He told “SI”: “You know they say a Jewish person can never really forget his faith. It always sticks with you. No matter how hard you try or want to forget about God, you’re always reminded of being Jewish.”

Catch-Up TV Movie Corner

Last Saturday, January 21, the Lifetime cable channel premiered their original re-make of “Beaches”, the 1988 hit film which starred BETTE MIDLER, now 71, and BARBARA HERSHEY, now 68. You can easily catch an encore performance on Lifetime or Lifetime on-demand.

Reviews have ranged from tepid to mildly good. However, everybody says that IDINA MENZEL, 45, who plays Jewish singer C. C. Bloom as an adult, knocks it out of the ballpark with her rendition of the movie’s hit song, “You’re the Wind Beneath My Wings.” Fortunately, you don’t have to watch the re-make to hear Menzel sing the song. Simply enter the song title and “Idina Menzel” on Youtube and the entire song scene (Menzel in character, in studio) can be seen. Personally, I preferred Midler’s version of the song. Menzel may be a better singer, but Midler has better dramatic “chops.”

A Great Jewish Scientist and Mother

Most media outlets noted the death, on Dec. 25, of astronomer VERA COOPER RUBIN, age 88. Most stuck to the "science" side of her life. Including the NY Times obit, which said: “She transformed modern physics and astronomy with her observations showing that galaxies and stars are immersed in the gravitational grip of vast clouds of dark matter. Her work helped usher in a Copernican-scale change in cosmic consciousness, namely the realization that what astronomers always saw and thought was the universe is just the visible tip of a lumbering iceberg of mystery."

For years her work on how galaxies rotate was not taken seriously—but eventually it was accepted and she was much honored. This work was important, too, in the study of the still-incompletely understood phenomena called “dark matter.”

“Cooper” was an Anglicization of her father’s original last name (he was a Lithuanian immigrant named PESACH KOBCHEFSKI).  Her husband of 40 years, who predeceased her, was chemist ROBERT RUBIN. Together, they had three sons and a daughter, all of whom earned doctorates in the sciences.

About her faith, she said: "In my own life, my science and my religion are separate. I'm Jewish, and so religion to me is a kind of moral code and a kind of history. I try to do my science in a moral way, and, I believe that, ideally, science should be looked upon as something that helps us understand our role in the universe."


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