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Alex Edelman, the summer’s hottest comedian, finds a tough Jewish crowd at a senior home

(New York Jewish Week) – When Alex Edelman arrived at a senior living home for a conversation about his solo Broadway show, “Just For Us,” in which the central narrative is what happened when the Jewish comedian infiltrated a white supremacist meeting in Queens, attendees were ready with questions.

But first, they had to get the important stuff out of the way.

“Where are you from?” one senior asked. When Edelman said Massachusetts, they specified what they meant — “No, what part?” “Brookline,” he answered. But that wasn’t enough either. “No, what street?”

Having cleared that up, attendees moved on. The conversation between Edelman, who sat at the front of a dining room of around 60 residents of Inspir Carnegie Hill, a luxury senior living facility on the Upper East Side, went a little something like this:

“Where did you go to camp?” 

Edelman: Seneca Lake, Camp Yavneh, a hockey camp and a few others. 

“Where did you go to college?”

Edelman: NYU. 

“Did your parents ever want you to be a doctor or a lawyer?” 

Edelman’s father is a doctor and his mother is a lawyer, “and they wanted me to be happy.” 

“What does your shirt say?” 

Edelman: “Jesus, the savior of a new generation,” written in the style of the Pepsi logo.

Silence. 

The lesson of the day seemed to be that even a comedian who has ostensibly made it all the way to the top — that is, a major solo show on Broadway, national acclaim, a New York Times Critics pick and various celebrity endorsements on social media — can find a tough crowd. 

A cohort of residents at Inspir had attended 34-year-old Edelman’s show on Broadway as a group earlier in the summer. Inspir is not a specifically Jewish home, but about 80% of residents are Jewish, Executive Director Sloane Limoncelli told the New York Jewish Week. Edelman’s show was the 18th that Inspir residents attended this year.

On Tuesday afternoon, Edelman paid a visit to answer questions and talk about the show, and once the crowd were satisfied with his bona fides, they asked questions about antisemitism, Israel, Broadway and how he got into comedy. 

When asked what surprised him the most about doing a solo show on Broadway, Edelman answered that it was harder physically than one might expect. 

“It’s actually so much harder to do the show in 1,000 seats than it is to do it in 200 or 100 seats,” he said. “It requires a lot more energy. Every two days my body gives me another sign that it would like to stop. Like I have a stye right now and I’ll get a headache or something in me will try to explode and I can feel my body being like, ‘Would you like to please stop with the cortisol already?’ I just need to hold on for another two weeks.” 

(Edelman’s eight-week run at the Hudson Theater will close Aug. 19.)

Edelman also talked about the unexpected death, at age 43, of his director and collaborator, Adam Brace, shortly before the show moved uptown.

“My director, who was my closest friend, passed away a month and a half before the run started, so that has injected a sad amount of meaningfulness into it,” Edelman told the Inspir residents. “So it’s been a nice little tribute to him. I’m surprised when I think about him. I’ll be on stage a lot and think ‘Adam would like this’ or ‘Adam would be really annoyed by this.’”

Guests also wanted to know if it was uncomfortable for Edelman to make a comedy show about a topic as heavy as antisemitism and how his show stood in contrast to “Parade,” the Tony-winning musical about an antisemitic lynching that closed earlier this week. 

“Right now, people have an appetite for levity,” Edelman said, while also lauding “Parade” and saying he was both excited and nervous that its writer, Alfred Uhry, came to see “Just For Us.” “I think the world needs a little more comedy, especially about complex issues. They’re too important not to joke about.” 

Edelman only had time to stay at Inspir for half an hour, which was confusing for guests who were told he would be there for a full hour and also that he would perform. After the talk, Edelman left for work and the seniors moved into the lobby for snacks, chatting and live piano music.

For Maggie Burke, the talk was underwhelming. “He was not prepared,” she said. “I thought he would have something else to say.” She told this reporter to give the audience a lot of credit. “If we hadn’t been asking our questions, I don’t know what he would have talked about,” she said. 

Plus, Burke was offended at an apparent error on Edelman’s part. “He said my friend Alfred Uhry was 93 — he’s only 86!” she said. Burke was involved in Uhry’s play “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1987. 

Myra, a woman who attended the Q&A, said she saw “Just For Us” and said she enjoyed it. However, she was “disappointed” by the conversation that afternoon.

“I thought it was going to be funnier than it was,” Peggie O’Brien, a woman standing nearby, said. “That was kind of a big letdown.” O’Brien had not gone with the group to see the show.

“Not everybody in the audience is Jewish. I realize that that’s the crux of his jokes, but why not lighten it up just a little bit,” added O’Brien, who is not Jewish. 

As for Edelman, when asked by the New York Jewish Week if this was his toughest crowd yet, he said “Oh my God, yes.” 

He added, however, that it was “a very fair room,” and that the crowd was “tough but fair.”


The post Alex Edelman, the summer’s hottest comedian, finds a tough Jewish crowd at a senior home appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

The post ‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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