“I got tired of people asking me, ‘Is the show coming back?’ I couldn’t face that question anymore,” Larry David says of the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” reboot. Photo by John P. Johnson

Larry David revives ‘Curb your Enthusiasm,’ finds Confederate Jewish roots

When “Curb Your Enthusiasm” ended its eighth season in 2011, viewers of the HBO comedy wondered if Larry David had lost his own enthusiasm for the show. But as its return this fall with 10 new episodes affirms, David isn’t ready to abandon the fictionalized version of himself just yet.

“I was missing it, and I was missing these idiots,” he said, referring to the show’s co-stars Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman and J.B. Smoove, as they participated with him in a recent panel discussion for the Television Critics Association. “So I thought, ‘Yeah, what the hell?’ I got tired of people asking me, ‘Is the show coming back?’ I couldn’t face that question anymore. I thought, ‘Now I won’t have to be asked that anymore.’ ”

For the past six years, David had been jotting down ideas for awkward situations he could turn into episodes, but he would not confirm that there would be a ninth season. The next season premieres Oct. 1.

“Larry insists there won’t be another season until he has enough ideas,” said executive producer Jeff Schaffer, who has worked with David since “Seinfeld,” which the latter co-created. “Only after the season is mostly written do we tell anyone that we are doing it.”

David cited the “Producers”-themed storyline in the fourth season as an example. “I wrote the shows before I even asked Mel Brooks if he would let me do it,” he said. “I guess it might have been ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ if he didn’t agree to it.”

This year, guest-starring roles were written for Lauren Graham, Ed Begley Jr., Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Jimmy Kimmel, Nick Offerman, Nasim Pedrad and Elizabeth Perkins, all of whom will appear. Richard Lewis, Bob Einstein, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Cheryl Hines (as Larry’s ex-wife) will continue to have recurring roles.

Although David wouldn’t divulge any new plots, Schaffer teased that the series “goes to this really strange, fun, crazy place. I can honestly say you will never expect where it ends,” he said.

From left: Lauren Graham (Photo from Wikipedia) and Susie Essman (Photo from IMDB)


Questions from the reporters in the audience subsequently turned to David’s spot-on impersonations of presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on “Saturday Night Live” during the 2016 campaign. When David’s agent, Ari Emanuel, heard him imitate Sanders on the phone, he immediately phoned “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels and brokered a deal for his client.

Although David hadn’t publicly announced support for any candidate, he declared, “I love Bernie,” noting that he was delighted to learn that he and Sanders, both Ashkenazi Jews, are actually distant cousins — the topic of another show’s season premiere.

In the season-opening episode of the PBS genealogy series “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Oct. 3, genetic tests show that David and Sanders share identical DNA on three chromosomes.

Larry David (let) and Jeff Garlin will reprise their roles in “Curb”
on HBO, based on a fictionalized version of David. Photo by John P. Johnson


That finding isn’t the most stunning revelation, however. It turns out David’s German paternal great-great-grandfather, Hirsch Bernstein, immigrated to Mobile, Ala., and founded a shoe company there. Bernstein fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and owned two slaves.

“Larry had had no clue about his Confederate, slave-owning heritage,” Gates said in an interview. “Though he speculates that keeping it secret is part of why his father never told him about the family’s past.

“Nobody could make this stuff up,” Gates added. “The mysteries on your family tree … who knows what you’ll find when you go back 100, 200 years. It’s like opening a secret door.”

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” premieres at 10 p.m. Oct.1 on HBO, and “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” premieres at 8 p.m. Oct. 3 on PBS.

Steve Bannon on April 10. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Larry David is upset that his hard work made Steve Bannon rich — but did it?

The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck has written perhaps the deepest dive into what forces shaped Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s top strategic adviser.

We already know lots about Bannon: He helmed Breitbart News before he joined Trump’s campaign last year, and he called the outlet a platform for the “alt-right,” the loose assemblage of hypernationalists that includes white supremacists and anti-Semites, but also fierce defenders of Israel and Jews. Bannon launched Breitbart Jerusalem as a means of correcting what he perceived as anti-Israel media bias.

A former wife accused him of anti-Semitism; he has denied it. He was in the U.S. Navy, a Goldman Sachs banker, then a Hollywood broker, and then a producer of conservative documentaries.

Exploring his Hollywood years, Bruck details a litany of deals gone wrong. There are plenty of nuggets in the piece of Jewish interest. Here are four:

Larry David doesn’t like the ‘Seinfeld’ story – but is it all a George Costanza-style con by Bannon?

Bruck addressed one of the most media-beloved elements of Bannon’s rise: that he made a fortune off of negotiating a syndication deal for “Seinfeld.” In 1992, Bruck reports, Westinghouse hired Bannon’s private-equity fund to sell its small stake in Castle Rock Entertainment, the TV production company that owned the “Seinfeld” reruns. An assessment last year in Forbes said that if Bannon had a one percent stake in syndication, he would have made upwards of $30 million.

Larry David, the co-creator of the comedy starring his friend, Jerry Seinfeld, and the model for Seinfeld’s neurotic buddy George, was unhappy with the association.

“I don’t think I ever heard of him until he surfaced with the Trump campaign and I had no idea that he was profiting from the work of industrious Jews!” he told Bruck. Rob Reiner, who helped found Castle Rock,  was “sick” because of the association.But is Bannon really making money off the show? In a 2015 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Bannon said he made five times as much as he expected on the deal involving Westinghouse’s sale of its stake in the show. He claimed to have deferred part of his fee for an ownership stake. He did not say what his stake was.

But here’s the thing: It’s not clear what Bannon’s stake – if any – was. Payouts to Bannon do not appear in available records, Bruck reported, although she noted that the first months of syndication are not available, and he might have been capped and paid out before records were available.

Bruck reviewed Bannon’s extensive divorce papers and found this:

In April, 1997, he submitted an “income and expense declaration,” indicating that his annual salary was roughly five hundred thousand dollars, and that his total assets were around $1.1 million. Any profit participations from “Seinfeld” should have shown up at that time. Either they were not substantial or Bannon failed to disclose them in a sworn statement.

(In 2005 papers related to the divorce Bruck also uncovered this: “He left blank the space for his salary, and reported $967,465 in stocks, bonds, and other assets, and $41,401,067 in other property. The figure is inexplicable, and inconsistent with his other publicly available filings.”)

Why would Bannon boast about a deal that does not appear to have brought him much in the way of return? It’s not the only such anomaly Bruck uncovered. Bannon recently claimed in an interview with the Washington Post to have driven up the price Seagram — then headed by Edgar Bronfman Jr. — paid for PolyGram by bringing in a Saudi prince as a bidder. He said he got “a big fee” for his efforts. But folks involved in the deal told Bruck they could not recall Bannon’s involvement in the deal or any bid from a Saudi prince.

Bannon found the Jewish common denominator.

Bruck found a telling line in one of Bannon’s first documentaries cast in a conservative slant, “In the Face of Evil.” The movie, which chronicles the rise of President Ronald Reagan, acknowledges that Reagan as an actor was never a major Hollywood draw. Why? Because Jewish executives made it so. But wait: It’s not like Bannon is blaming these powerful Jews. It’s more like he’s admiring them.

Studios, in an “unforgiving calculus,” found Reagan wanting, the film says. These “Jewish entrepreneurs,” the film explains, “differed in taste and style, yet shared two common elements: ruthlessness and uncompromising patriotism.”

There’s Goldman Sachs, and there’s also Goldman Sachs

We’ve noted before how Trump, during his campaign, repeatedly trashed Goldman Sachs bankers, and then proceeded to hire some of their top alumni for senior advisory positions.

Bannon also shares an animus toward Goldman Sachs, but is himself an alumnus. Bruck found a rare – perhaps the only – instance of someone asking him to explain the anomaly:

In October, 2010, he appeared on “Political Vindication,” a right-wing radio show in Los Angeles. One of the hosts said that Bannon had been “evil” while he worked at Goldman Sachs. He replied equably, saying, “It was a private partnership then, and a firm of the highest ethical standards,” but it had changed when it went public. He did not mention that since it went public, in 1999, he had made every effort to do business with Goldman.

More corroborating evidence for Bannon’s alleged issue with school-age Jews

Bannon’s ex-wife has said in post-divorce papers that Bannon objected to certain schools for their twin girls because he didn’t want them consorting with Jewish students. “He said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats,’” Mary Louise Piccard said in a 2007 filing, referring to The Archer School for Girls.

She also reported that he asked another school director, at the Westland School, why there were “so many Hanukkah books in the library.”

Bannon has vigorously denied the claims. New York Magazine, in November, confirmed the “Hannukah books” incident with the Westland director, but she told the magazine she understood Bannon simply to be curious because the school was secular, and she did not detect an animus toward Jews.

Bruck uncovered an email between Piccard and Bannon in which she directly raises with him his alleged objection to the percentage of Jewish girls at Archer.

“As for the % of Jewish girls at Archer I have no idea what it is nor do I understand why that is such a concern for you,” she wrote in 2007. “I certainly have not been raising the girls to be prejudice[d] against Jews or anyone else for that matter.”

Bannon’s spokesperson told the New Yorker that he was not an anti-Semite, and noted that he paid the girls’ tuition at Archer.

SNEAK PEEK: Seinfeld’s apartment gets an open house in West Hollywood

It’s a Festivus miracle: a West Hollywood storefront on Melrose Avenue has been transformed into an exact replica of Jerry Seinfeld’s New York apartment from the sitcom “Seinfeld,” opening to the public Dec. 16.

“Seinfeld: The Apartment” is hard to miss – look for the mural of George Costanza posing in his tighty whities – a shrine to all things “Seinfeld” that recreates the comedian’s kitchen and living room. The online television company Hulu organized this touring show after it acquired exclusive streaming rights to all of the “Seinfeld” episodes.

Visitors are greeted by Jerry’s booth in Monk’s Restaurant from the show’s set, flanked by other memorabilia, such as the leather couch from George’s undies shoot. Around a corner is the corridor to apartment 5A, which guests are invited to enter Kramer style – suddenly and out of breath.

The apartment itself is furnished down to the details, with cereal boxes stocked above the kitchen sink and a green bicycle hanging from the wall through the doorway.

Just outside, a concrete patio serves as a Festivus pole lot (think Christmas tree lot, but for Festivus). The first 50 fans at the exhibit each day will each get a desktop Festivus pole to honor a holiday invented by George Costanza’s cheapskate father as a rebellion against the commercialization of Christmas – don’t forget to notify your boss that you’ll be out celebrating on Dec. 23.

Behind the apartment, a canvas styled as a brick wall bears dozens of signatures from guest stars, who scrawled their farewell messages during the taping of the show’s finale.

On Dec. 15, the day before the exhibition opened to the public, Larry Thomas, better known as the Soup Nazi (“The Soup Nazi,” Season 7, Episode 6), pointed to his mark on television history: a poorly drawn heart on the canvas sheet with the words, “No Soup For You!” scrawled in capitals inside.

“I don’t know how many actors can tell you they were on their favorite TV show,” said Thomas, who described himself as a religious watcher of the show during its original NBC run.

Sporting a mustache and a long white apron, Thomas described how he rocketed into unexpected stardom as perhaps the show’s most famous guest star.

Barely a day has gone by since he taped the Soup Nazi episode when Thomas is not asked to repeat the famous line from his six-minute appearance on the 180-episode show, he said.

“Starting the next day, I was no longer the same guy – I was now the Soup Nazi,” he said.

The show’s cultural influence has exhibited remarkable staying power, despite the fact that the final episode first aired in 1998. Thomas has sold nearly 19,000 autographed pictures of himself in Soup Nazi garb to fans all over the world, and this year published a book titled, “Confessions of a Soup Nazi: An Adventure in Acting and Cooking.”

“Now that Hulu is streaming the whole series, it’s going to reach a whole new generation of young people that don’t actually watch [regular] television,” Thomas said.

Like Seinfeld’s character, the exhibit is native to New York. After a successful run there, Hulu decided to bring it to Los Angeles to promote its service.

“It was such a great hit in New York that we had to bring it to the fans in Los Angeles,” said Hulu publicist Mitchell Squires. “Perfect timing for Festivus.”

“Seinfeld: The Apartment” is located at 8445 Melrose Ave. Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 16-Dec. 20.

To mark ‘Seinfeld’ streaming debut, Hulu recreates Jerry’s apartment

Every episode of “Seinfeld” – from the “The Soup Nazi” to the “The Summer of George” – is now streaming on the website Hulu, one of Netflix’s top competitors. To promote the debut of its prize acquisition, Hulu recreated Jerry Seinfeld’s iconic apartment space and a few other memorable sets in Manhattan’s Milk Studios. You can go see the exhibition, which is open for five days starting on Wednesday, or get a quick virtual tour below.

The kitchen from “Seinfeld,” recreated by Hulu on June 23, 2015. Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Hulu

Jerry Seinfeld made me famous–sort of

My agent called one day with an audition for a few lines on a new sit-com.  A better-known actress had turned it down, saying the role was too small for her.  I figure a day’s work is better than staying home and re-organizing my spice rack.  My attitude is, “There are no small roles, only short people.”  I got the job. 

When the show aired, my husband, Benni, didn’t get it.  “It’s not about anything,” he said.  How right he was.  The show was SEINFELD.  My few lines turned into the recurring character of Doris Klompus in the Florida condo.  My husband, Jack Klompus, is always fighting with Jerry’s father so I’m in some of the classic episodes: The Pen, The Cadiallac, Raincoats.  My role was so minor that the audience didn’t even notice when I played a second character: the obnoxious lady sitting next to Elaine on an airplane.  (Obnoxious characters are my specialty.) 

The set always smelled of take-out Chinese food, which gave me a pleasant buzz of New York Jewish Nostalgia.  Larry David, Jerry, and the rest of the cast couldn’t have been nicer, but I wasn’t anything more than a bit player – until the day I realized that I was sort of famous.

I was at a party, and met one of those SEINFELD fanatics who watches every re-run.  Not only did he know who both my insignificant characters were, but he could quote all of my insignificant lines.  Another guest was impressed, even though it was clear that she’d never seen the show.  “You were on STEINFIELD?  Could I get an autograph for my nephew?  Then I went to Australia to perform one of my solo shows, and the newspaper headline said, “SEINFELD actress coming to Sydney!” 

Benni has a friend who is a Major Hollywood Player.  This guy is so uninterested in me that he introduces me as an afterthought: “Oh, and this is Benni’s wife.”  We were eating with him in a show biz deli, which means that I chewed my brisket sandwich in silence while Mr. Hollywood spoke exclusively to my husband. 

I noticed some guy waving at me and calling my name.  I went over, and it was Jerry, who – nice guy that he is – just wanted to say hello.  Everyone in the restaurant stared and I could sense them thinking, “Who is that woman?  She must be Somebody.”  When I returned to our table Mr. Hollywood actually began to include me in the conversation.  He now introduces me as “And this is my very dear friend Annie Korzen.  You’ve probably seen her on SEINFELD.” 

The shows are always on the air, so people get the false impression that I have a successful career.  A few years ago I was rushed to the ICU for a bleeding ulcer.  Enter the big gun: the Gastroenterologist, 12 years old with a long foreign name.  As we’re discussing my symptoms, he keeps staring at me in a weird way and finally says, “You look so familiar, I know you from somewhere.. Wait a minute, I just saw you last night!  You’re Doris Klompus!” 

From then on, the nurses on the floor – also with long foreign names – all referred to me as “Mrs Annie Korzen, famous actress.”  And who was I to disillusion them?  The doctor and nurses gave me spectacular care.  I don’t really believe my “celebrity status” got me any special treatment: they were all dedicated professionals.  But I can’t help wondering if “Mrs Annie Korzen, out-of-work actress” would have gotten the same attention

Now comes the bad news.  At first, I was pretty comfortable with Jerry and Larry.  Then the show became a global phenomenon and I got intimidated by their fame.  They hadn’t really changed, but I became shy and awkward in their presence.  When most people get shy and awkward, they get tongue-tied.  I have the opposite reaction: I get tongue-untied, and can’t stop chattering. 

Each time I ran into them, I launched into a crazed, desperate, non-stop, inappropriate monologue.  My brain would say, “Shut your stupid mouth, you are making a gigantic ass of yourself,” but I just yammered on even though I saw the glazed look in their eyes.  Two men I admire now think I’m a total nutcase – but I’m still glad I took the job.

I sometimes think about the actress who turned down the role because it was too small.  I’m still getting residual checks, plus my association with the show – however modest – has opened all kinds of doors for me.  When I pitched a humorous essay to the venerable NY Times, the editor wrote back immediately that he wanted the piece.  The very next thing he said was “So tell me, what was it like to work on SEINFELD?” 

Will Larry David’s Broadway show add to his Jewish file?

In Larry David’s fake real-life world on the HBO sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” he is tapped by Mel Brooks to take over the Zero Mostel-Nathan Lane role of Max Bialystock in the megahit Broadway adaptation of “The Producers.”

Just as Max and accountant Leo Bloom set out to make money by producing a surefire bomb, Brooks picks Larry with the (secret) goal of killing the Tony Award-winning musical and getting his life back. But in an art-imitates-art twist, Larry (like “Springtime for Hitler”) miraculously becomes a hit.

Now comes news that the real real-life Larry David is set to make his Broadway debut in 2015 with a play titled “Fish in the Dark.” David wrote the script and will star in the show.

David isn’t saying much about the details except that it is a comedy about a death in the family. Before the official announcement, the buzz was that the show would be called “Shiva.”

So odds are good that David will be adding to his already sizable Jewish canon.

OK, he’s not Philip Roth. But who is? Few in showbiz have tackled as many Jewish topics with as much attitude and as prominently as David has on “Curb” and as the co-creator/lead writer of “Seinfeld.”

Among the highlights:

Survivors and making out during ‘Schindler’s List‘

It was fitting that in 2004, David dedicated the entire fourth season of “Curb” to the Larry-gets-cast-in-”The Producers” plot line. Few have followed as boldly in Brooks’ footsteps as David when it comes to turning the Holocaust into a punch line. In fact, you could argue that David has attempted a far more daring (some would say offensive) maneuver — whereas Brooks deployed comedy as a weapon against Hitler, David has taken aim at the hallowed status of survivors and Holocaust memorialization.

First came the “Seinfeld” episode (“The Raincoats”) when Jerry is caught making out with his girlfriend during a screening of “Schindler’s List.” As it turns out, the roots of the gag were actually the doldrums of synagogue.

“I think it must have come from sitting in temple,” David said several years ago in an interview packaged with the release of the series on DVD. “I would sit in temple wondering what would happen if I reached over and touched my wife’s breast now or something like that. I can’t pay attention; my mind wanders.”

Count Jerry Stiller, fictional father of George Costanza on “Seinfeld,” among those who was a little squeamish about the bit.

“I just felt that they had gone over the line with that one,” Stiller, who is Jewish, once commented about the episode. But he quickly added with a laugh, “Then I said, ‘Well, Jews go over the line.’ ”

David would cross the line again — this time in an episode of “Curb” featuring a showdown between a Holocaust survivor and a contestant on the reality show “Survivor” over which one had it rougher.

Israel activism and tribal loyalty

In 2011, between the last two large-scale Israel-Hamas conflicts, David gave us a “Curb” episode titled “Palestinian Chicken.” A lesser artist would have settled for interethnic feuding between supporters of the Jewish deli and the new Palestinian chicken place, but David also delivered a biting take on the often tedious sniping between Jewish universalists (Larry, who has a yen for the chicken and lusts after the Palestinian owner of the restaurant) and tribalists (a yarmulke-clad Marty Funkhauser disgusted by Larry’s betrayal).

Bonus factoid: Funkhauser is played by Bob Einstein, whose brother is Albert Brooks (yes, that’s right, real name: Albert Einstein).

Mohels and rabbis

Jewish clergy haven’t fared too well in David’s creative hands (then again, few people do). The rabbis on “Seinfeld” and “Curb” are always flawed, either incapable of keeping a secret or self-absorbed. And then there’s the shaky-handed mohel from “The Bris” episode of “Seinfeld.”

The seder

On “The Seder” episode of “Curb,” Larry takes “Let all who are hungry come and eat” to a new level — inviting a registered sex offender at the last second.

Jewish self-hatred

“Curb” ended its fifth season with a multi-episode arc featuring Larry being told he was adopted and tracking down his supposed birth family — a collection of decidedly un-neurotic and extremely kind religious Christians. In short, the exact opposite of Larry. The result is a new, gentile, gentler Larry. Until he discovers it was all a mistake, at which point he returns to his old self (following a brief trip to heaven). Implication: The Jews and the Jewish are responsible for all of Larry’s loathsome characteristics.

It’s hard to think of a more decidedly anti-Jewish message on television.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that — as long as it’s funny.

Letters to the editor: Holocaust comparisons, Mr. Mom, BDS and laughter for all

Mixed Feelings on Holocaust Comparison  

Danielle Berrin’s piece (“Will America Re-Examine Its Shame?” Feb. 21) certainly has its virtues about what needs to be recognized as America’s sin, shame or national disgrace of 350 years as a house of bondage for black people — a story usually falsified for almost another 100 years by Hollywood. But her framing the issues the piece raises around “the black Holocaust” analogy — which deserves a trifecta for encouraging misunderstandings of the Shoah, of American slavery, and of the causes of current African-American problems — is not among the virtues.

I’ve explained before in other contexts what’s wrong and damaging about the analogy. Like many American-Jewish historians of my generation, I initially became a historian to understand the dynamics of slavery and race relations — not the Shoah —though my first serious scholarship back in the 1960s was a critique of Stanley Elkins’ work that conflated the two subjects. Because of or despite this, I am ambivalent about taking the flak in order to again explain what’s wrong with the analogy and why it matters.

If you think your readers really need to be reminded of what’s wrong with the analogy beyond just a question of a hyperbolic title, let me know.

Harold Brackman via e-mail

Thought provoking and well-written article. I appreciate that the Jewish Journal does articles like this.

Caroline Kelly via jewishjournal.com

A beautifully written, strongly worded piece on a subject that truly deserves to be discussed, and acted upon. It’s also a wonderful, thought-provoking piece for Black History Month. 

Stanley Schweiger via e-mail

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the Holocaust as “the killing of millions of Jews and other people by the Nazis during World War II or an event or situation in which many people are killed and many things are destroyed especially by fire.” Slave owners did not strive to exterminate the slaves. Why would they? They needed slaves to work in the fields and to do other household tasks. There is no comparison between the Nazis (yemach shemam) and slave owners. This is not to suggest that slavery was a walk in the park for the slaves.  It definitely was not. By comparing the Jewish Holocaust to slavery cheapens the meaning and experience of the Holocaust. World War II was a war to exterminate the Jewish people. Slavery was not intended to exterminate the black people.

Morton Resnick via e-mail

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

David Suissa has become my favorite conservative, since in so many ways he comes across as, well, liberal. His tongue-in-cheek recommendation to replace Foxman with Seinfeld is a prime example (“Replace Foxman With Seinfeld,” Feb. 21). If the ADL takes his recommendation seriously, it will develop humorous emissaries to put in front of its audiences whenever and wherever possible. Its motto might become “You don’t have to be Jewish to fight anti-Semitism.”

Roger Schwarz, Los Angeles

Great idea! Humor is really powerful and contagious. I think Seinfeld should actually  feel honored with this suggestion and accept.

Desiree Kindi via jewishjournal.com

Mr. Mom

What?! You mean that cooking, washing the dishes and cleaning the floor don’t make me more sexually appealing to my wife (“Egalitarian Marriages and Sex” by Dennis Prager, Feb. 21). Hey, you haven’t seen me do these things.  

Ed Burnham, Encino 

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad BDS?

I feel that Gary Wexler’s article regarding the threat of BDS and our bad marketing should not threaten the Jewish community, but it should make us aware that our enemies have re-energized themselves with recent victories (Where Can I Sign Up for a BDS Marketing Course?” Feb. 7). I am aware of what’s happening with the amount of back-stabbing Jews joining this ongoing campaign along with the Southern California Shura Council. We should be putting our efforts into a continued strong, creative Jewish continuity both in the United States and the Jewish state. At age 71, my contribution will be, in the next 25 years of my life, to contribute $10 million to groups/organizations such as our fantastic Jewish Journal. I urge the Jewish community to follow my lead instead of kvetching. Our enemies are indeed united, so let’s think and take action for a strong, viable Jewish continuity — with or without BDS.

Dick Bernstein via e-mail

Tales from a mother: The Jewish wedding

Every time my son, Jonathan, left for school, for camp, for college, I felt a heartbreaking sense of loss. That’s because your main instinct as a mother is to keep your child as close to you as possible. But your main job as a mother is to prepare your kids to separate. It’s the cruel catch-22 of parenting.

I am generally an outspoken person, but with Jonathan I often kept my feelings to myself. He announced that he was going to work in London for a year. What I said was: “Oooh, that sounds wonderful!” What I was really thinking: “You’ll be looking the wrong way and get hit by a bus, you’ll get chronic bronchitis from that miserable climate, and you will learn to think of toast as a meal!”

The only good thing about working in England is that the Brits know zilch about Jewish culture, so whenever Jono wanted to visit he could just make up a holiday. “I’ll be out next week. I have to be with my family for the first five nights of Kishka.”

When he got here, Jono told us that things with his girlfriend had gotten “serious.” Oh, my God! A WEDDING! “I have dreamed about this day for years! This is the best Kishka present you could have given me!”

That was a big fat lie. The fact is I’d be perfectly content if Jonathan stayed single forever. That way I wouldn’t have to share him on holidays, I would remain the leading lady in his life, and I wouldn’t have to watch him making googly eyes at some trollop! But there’s a rumor going around that I might die someday, and I didn’t want my child to be alone. He called a few weeks later to describe the wedding plans: a huge, traditional, black-tie affair in New York after he moved back from London. “Oooh, that sounds wonderful!” Oy!

I took a valium and spent the rest of the day on the phone with the Yenta Brigade. “Are they out of their minds? It’s too big, it’s too formal, and it’s too Jewish. … What do you mean ‘It’s not my wedding?’ Why does everyone keep saying that?” 

I said nothing to my son about my concerns. For starters, why black-tie? In our artsy, hippy crowd we don’t wear tuxes and evening gowns. And why the huge guest list? People are not going to fly in from all over the world for a glass of champagne and some chopped liver.

Most importantly, I’m not comfortable with all that traditional Jewy stuff — a rabbi saying prayers, a Hebrew marriage contract, and 100 baby-blue yarmulkes from UnderTheHuppah.com. Our family is not observant in any way. We are secular Jews who believe in the time-honored ancestral values of eating out, going to the theater and bargain shopping. But, again, I kept quiet.

Things got frantic. I had to buy a gown, we had to fly to New York, and my husband Benni’s huge Danish family was coming in from Copenhagen. I figured we’d take them out for Chinese — as an introduction to Jewish culture. And then things went from frantic to insane: Benni’s brother was coming with his two ex-wives, and they were all staying in the same room with one king-sized bed. And now you know why the Danes are considered the happiest people in the world!

I found a beaded gown at a yard sale that still had a $1,200 price tag on it. I paid 20 bucks, and kept the tag in case I wanted to resell it on eBay. Benni dug out his old tux from 1967, which still fit perfectly — as long as he didn’t button it or zip up the fly. 

To my surprise, people did fly into Manhattan from all over the world, and everyone looked magnificent in their evening clothes. I got a shiver when Benni’s very assimilated Danish Jewish family put on yarmulkes for the first time in their lives. 

Four young men carried the chuppah, which was draped with the bride’s late father’s prayer shawl. When the music changed, Alisa, the bride, entered wearing her great-grandmother’s lace wedding veil. And when my son looked at her, I felt that same sense of loss that I used to feel when he went off to school, to camp, to college. Only this time, he wasn’t coming back.

Then — just like in “Fiddler” — Jonathan broke the glass and everyone shouted “Mazel tov!” We danced back up the aisle, and we kept dancing, eating, drinking, laughing and crying the whole night. And all the things I worried about — the formal attire, the big crowd, the Jewish stuff — turned out to be all the things I liked best about the wedding. I am so glad that I did a mother’s job and kept my big mouth shut!

Humorist Annie Korzen is an actress (“Seinfeld”), writer and speaker. She is the author of “Bargain Junkie: Living the Good Life on the Cheap.”

Uncle Leo, helloooooo