Oscar is a Jewish name

‘The Artist’ claimed 10 Oscar nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Director Michel Hazanavicius, a French Jew.

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

B’nai mitzvah mitzvah

When Central Reform Congregation members Michael Getty and Brian Vetruba decided to become b’nai mitzvah together, the couple wanted a mitzvah project that was not only meaningful to them but also beneficial to the entire St. Louis Jewish community. They explained that they immediately thought of bringing to St. Louis author and activist Jay Michaelson, who they met through Nehirim, a national organization he founded to build community for LGBT Jews, partners, and allies.

“We went to one of Nehirim’s retreats in 2010, which was the first time we really stepped outside of the protective bubble of CRC,” Michael and Brian explained in an email. “We were shocked and saddened by stories people told us there-stories of being thrown out, shut out, ignored by their families and communities or forced to lead absurdly edited lives. We met other people who just walked away from Jewish life because it simply didn’t speak to their lived reality.”

Apparently, Michaelson is working very hard to change that. As the author of three books and articles on religion, sexuality and law that have appeared in the New York Times as well as on CNN and National Public Radio, Michaelson is a leading religious advocate for sexual minorities. In 2009, he was included on the “Forward 50” list of most influential Jewish leaders in America.

He will be spearheading two events at CRC when he comes to St. Louis. The first scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, is entitled “Everything is God.” It will focus on concepts that Michaelson covered in his 2009 book, including ways of imagining God’s nature, God’s presence in the world, and how to live in it.

The second event takes place the next evening, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 and will feature Michaelson’s most recent book. In “God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality,” the author will show that Hebrew Bible and Christian scriptures emphasize the importance of love, compassion, and equality. From this starting point, he will make a case for how moral principles in these texts favor acceptance of gays and lesbians, outweighing the handful of ambiguous verses so often cited by conservatives. Brian and Michael are selling copies of “God vs. Gay?” for $25.95, with proceeds benefiting CRC. To order one, contact Brian at [email protected] or call 314-210-1754.

Brian hopes a good showing of St. Louis Jews-not just the LGBT community-will attend at least one of the events. He and Michael, who have been together for 19 years and were married in Toronto in 2003, are covering the expenses of bringing Michaelson to St. Louis.

Brian, who converted to Judaism in 2010 and Michael, who did so a year earlier, will become b’nai mitzvah together on April 28. Both men work at Washington University.


Oscar is a Jewish name

When this year’s Oscar nominees were announced Tuesday morning, Jewish (and Jewish-related) contenders stood strong among the pack.

Woody Allen was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for “Midnight in Paris,” which was also nominated for Best Picture. Writer Aaron Sorkin was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Moneyball,” which also got a Best Picture nod, as did Steven Spielberg’s World War I epic “War Horse.” In addition, the silent film, “The Artist,” garnered 10 Oscar nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Director Michel Hazanavicius, a French Jew whose Jewish grandparents came from Lithuania and Poland.

Israel earned a nomination for best foreign-language film with “Footnote,” which centers on an academic rivalry between a father and son at Hebrew University. Another foreign-language film nominee, Poland’s “In Darkness” by Agnieszka Holland (who is Jewish) tells the true story of Jews who were hidden in sewers during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

In the Best Supporting Actor category, Jonah Hill was nominated for his performance in “Moneyball.”

The Oscars will be handed out Sunday, Feb. 26 In Hollywood, with Billy Crystal hosting the telecast starting at 7 p.m. on ABC. And yes, Crystal, too, is Jewish.


It’s Miller time

Jewish rapper Mac Miller is coming to the Chaifetz Arena Wednesday, April 11. To my almost 14-year-old son and his friends, this news is beyond big. They can hardly contain themselves.

Tickets, at $31, go on sale Friday at the venue as well as all Metrotix locations, metrotix.com and by calling 314-534-1111.

Last November, Miller, 20, released his debut studio album “Blue Slide Park” at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, making him the first artist to independently release a debut album at the top of the chart since Tha Dogg Pound’s “Dogg Food” in 1995. I suppose that’s something that makes Miller’s Jewish mother very proud.