(New York Jewish Week) — Regular listeners of Conan O’Brien’s podcast generally expect to hear the comedian interview A-listers such as Michelle Obama and “Fleishman Is in Trouble” star Lizzy Caplan.
But the former late-night host interviews “regular” people, too, and sandwiched between two recent episodes — featuring “The Office” star Ed Helms and “You” star Penn Badgely — listeners can hear O’Brien crack jokes about Jewish life with a New York rabbi.
David Schuck, who is the rabbi at New Rochelle’s Conservative Beth El Synagogue Center, appeared on the Dec. 29 episode of “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend,” where he discussed his job as a congregational rabbi.
“I honestly did not expect to be chosen to be on his podcast,” Schuck told the New York Jewish Week via email. “I just thought it would be a thrill to meet him, and it was.”
Schuck said that he has “always been a fan of Conan,” adding that anyone can fill out a form online to be considered a guest on the show.
“He is a brilliant comedian with a rich intellectual life and he seems sincerely interested in other people,” Schuck said. “The wonderful thing about Conan is that as far as I could tell, he is who he seems to be. There was no pretense with him or anything performative that changed when the audio was not being recorded.”
In one segment of the episode that was featured on the comedian’s YouTube page, O’Brien joked about accidentally mistaking foreskin for calamari at a bris — eliciting both groans and laughter from Schuck and O’Brien’s crew.
Schuck then shared that he buried his son’s foreskin behind home plate at a baseball field in Central Park.
“What a terrible image,” O’Brien said.
Conan, who is an Irish Catholic, said he grew up in an area of Boston where he was surrounded by synagogues. “Many of my friends were Jewish,” O’Brien said. “I think I went to many more bar mitzvahs when I was a kid than first communions or any other Christian ceremony.”
“You ended up in a good place, in Hollywood,” Schuck joked.
“What the hell?” Conan said laughing. “Tone it down, David. It’s not true, there are no Jewish people in Hollywood. It’s all Mormons. It’s the Mormons that control Hollywood.”
O’Brien asked Schuck if he wears anything outside of synagogue that would identify him as a rabbi, or if Schuck can “go undercover.”
The rabbi replied that he does get recognized frequently, adding that when he runs to the grocery store for some chips, he might then find himself “counseling somebody in aisle six around a cancer diagnosis.”
“When I am not in New Rochelle or Westchester, I never tell people I am a rabbi, ever,” Schuck said.
Schuck told the New York Jewish Week that he did not let his synagogue know in advance that he would be on O’Brien’s podcast.
“People were surprised, and they were excited to hear us establish a sincere connection with one another,” Schuck said. “In a strange way, people were touched that Conan felt genuinely grateful for the ways in which rabbis serve their communities.”
On the podcat, O’ Brien riffed on New Rochelle, saying that he grew up fantasizing about living there because “The Dick Van Dyke Show” was set in the upscale northern suburb of New York City.
“If I could live in New Rochelle and be married to Mary Tyler Moore and write comedy,” O’Brien said. “Well, one of those came true.”
The rabbi added that Conan is always welcome to visit New Rochelle.
“I bet I could convince the mayor, Noam Bramson, to give him the key to the city,” Schuck told the New York Jewish Week. “I make a mean cholent if Conan wants to share a Shabbat meal with us. Otherwise, this will just go down as a thrilling opportunity to chat with someone whom I admire.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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