Jews in the News: Shia Labeouf, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren & Paula Abdul

As I write this, the 8th week of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” has ended and actress ELIZABETH BERKLEY LAUREN, 41, and her pro dance partner, VALENTIN CHERKOVSKIY, 27, are narrow favorites to win this year’s competition. Lauren, who is still a strikingly attractive woman, scored the only “perfect” dance score this season, to date, in week #6. She can take the “whole shimmering matzoh ball’ if her dancing is more consistently stellar.


In 2003, Elizabeth married artist GREG LAUREN, 43, the nephew of RALPH LAUREN, 74, in a lavish Jewish wedding. The couple had their first child last year. She recently told JOAN RIVERS, 80, that she was fine with her son seeing her star in old episodes of the ‘80s teen sit-com, “Saved by the Bell,” but he’d have to wait a “long time” before she was okay with him viewing her very adult movie, “Showgirls” (1995). (Already-aired episodes of “DWTS” can be seen on the ABC website. The 10th week will air next Monday, Nov. 18, at 8PM, with the season finale airing a week later.)


Boychik, I Gotta Take You Out of the Game


When the Detroit Tigers recently named BRAD AUSMUS, 44, their new manager, readers asked me: who were the other Jewish MLB managers? Here’s my list, vetted by Jewish Sports Review magazine. All except Phillips were, like Ausmus, a former MLB player: LIPMAN PIKE (1845-1893). The first player of any faith to sign a pro contract, he was a player/manager of three teams in the 1870s; ANDY COHEN (1904-88), Pittsburgh, one game, 1960; HAROLD "Lefty" PHILLIPS (1919-72), Angels, 1969-71; NORM SHERRY, 82; Angels, 1976-77; and JEFF NEWMAN, 65; 10-game interim manager, Oakland, 1986. 


The following managers had one Jewish parent, but were raised Christian: Lou Boudreau, Larry Rothschild, and current Oakland manager Bob Melvin.


On Paula


You’ve probably heard that singer/dancer/and former American Idol judge PAULA ABDUL, 51, visited Israel last week and had a bat mitzvah ceremony. Here’s a few things about her background and the trip you may not find in most sources:


While she didn’t really speak about her father’s Jewish background before 2006 (He was born in Syria, raised in Brazil, moved to California)—she did radio interview with a Chabad rabbi more than a decade ago in which she said she was a “believing Jew.”


A rabbi presided when she married the Jewish son of the head of “Starter” clothes in 1996. They split-up in 1998.


Her mother, LORRAINE, was born and raised in a small town in Manitoba, Canada, the daughter of Eastern European Jewish immigrants.  Before she left for California, Lorraine dated the late ISRAEL “Izzy” ASPER, a member of the only other Jewish family in town. Asper later became famous as a politician and media mogul. A profile says that his family and Lorraine’s family were "ostracized [in that town] because they had accents and discriminated against because of religion."


While in Israel, Adbul visited the Western Wall (Kotel); the Holocaust museum; and met with President SHIMON PERES. Plans to have her bat mitzvah at the Kotel were changed, probably to avoid a media circus. Instead, it was held in the city of Safed (also known as Tzfat), a famous center of Jewish mysticism. Presiding over her bat mitzvah was Rabbi EYAL REISS, director of the Center for Tzfat Kabbalah, a joint venture of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach. Its visitor center aims to provide an authentic introduction to Kabbalah to Safed visitors and it maintains an extensive and informative website.


Here is one comment Adbul made about her trip: “Beyond being Jewish, I've always found myself to be very much in tune with spirituality. I feel very grateful coming to Israel now, where as a woman I know who I am a lot more than even 10 years ago."


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