JEWISH CELEBRITY ROUNDUP: Rise of the Jewish Biebers

The Chasidic boy band The Shepsalach performing “Rabbi,” its cover of the Justin Bieber song “Baby.”

By JTA Staff

At first it was Edon Pinchot, the 14-year-old, yarmulke-wearing Chicagoan on “America’s Got Talent” whose impressive vocal abilities earned him a spot in the reality show’s semifinals (not THAT impressive when it turns out that 48 contestants make it to the semifinals, but still) with a rendition of David Guetta’s song “Titanium.” The judges lauded Pinchot’s pitch-perfect performance; Howie Mandel asked Pinchot if he received the same standing ovation at his bar mitzvah and also exclaimed “Jew are terrific!” Pinchot will compete for the finals in the next few weeks, and even his Twitter has been “Bieberized,” climbing from some 60 followers last week to nearly 2,000 now.

But that’s not all. A new cover to the Bieber hit “Baby” — with an Orthodox Jewish twist — was released. “Rabbi,” by the Chasidic boy band The Shepsalach (“little sheep” in Yiddish) features young children praising their rebbe with the catchy chorus “rebbe, rebbe, rebbe, oh.” The man behind the kosher version is Yuval Nobelman, an Israeli filmmaker and a member of a rather creative family.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Guns N’ Roses’ rocking ‘Hatikvah’

Israeli fans of Guns N’ Roses were delighted to see the band on stage in Tel Aviv last week. While guitarist Slash wasn’t around — he no longer performs with the band that hit it big in the early 1990s — current guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal, had a surprise for the crowd prior to the song “Don’t Cry”: Bumblefoot began with a special rendition of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah.” It may not have been Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, but the crowd still went wild.

Sacha Baron Cohen visits grandma in Israel

Another visitor to Israel was Sacha Baron Cohen, who took his wife and daughters to see his beloved grandmother Lizel Wizer. She’s 97 and living in a residential home; she’s also an exercise instructor with more than 75 years of experience. Baron Cohen was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in London, and his mother is a sabra. The comic actor speaks Hebrew, as you could probably tell if you saw “Borat” or “The Dictator.”

Scarlet Johansson’s record film deal

Scarlett Johansson has signed on to reprise her role as the Black Widow in the sequel to the superhero blockbuster “The Avengers” — and set a record while inking the contract. The deal is expected to earn Johannson $20 million, topping the mark for most earned for a film by a woman in Hollywood — reportedly $19 million by Angelina Jolie for “The Tourist.”

Mac Miller doesn’t get Adam Levine’s humor

You can’t really escape Carly Rae Jespen’s hit song “Call Me Maybe.” It’s the ultimate summer hit — simple, upbeat and catchy. The lyrics, most notably the chorus (“Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here’s my number, So call me, maybe?”), has spurred hundreds of Internet parodies, from mixes of Obama’s speeches to an actual version sung by Cookie Monster of “Sesame Street” (my particular favorite).

Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and NBC’s “The Voice” commented on the song by tweeting a fairly old joke about it (in Internet terms, of course): Why does she want him to call her Maybe? Carly is a lovely name.” While most of the online world read the tweet and perhaps tittered or teheed, the Jewish rapper Mac Miller apparently assumed that Levine didn’t actually understand the song because he tweeted, “she’s saying maybe call her.” The Internet community’s response? SMH (shake my head).

(For more Jewish celebrity news, visit, the illegitimate child of JTA.)