Bryce Harper Reveals Secret Jewish History
By Jeanie Ology
Bryce Harper, who recently signed a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and spurred a frenzy of jersey-buying, has revealed that he comes from an Ashkenazi Jewish background.
Though Harper is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has talked publicly about serving as a representative for the Mormon faith, suspicions of Jewish heritage were raised early on in his life by a Jewish girl Harper met at a party in high school. The girl, Britney Greenbaum, was living in Harper’s native Las Vegas temporarily while her mother was a visiting professor at the University of Las Vegas. Greenbaum saw Bryce across the room at their first high school party and thought he was cute.
“So I walked over and started talking to him and it was like an instant connection, even though we were from different worlds,” said Greenbaum. “Maybe it was the forbidden aspect that drew us together, but we talked about homework and sports — he talked more about hockey than baseball! — and our parents. And he told me his middle names were Aron and Max and I started wondering. I mean, there is something of the Bar Mitzvah boy about him.”
Harper and Greenbaum grew apart after a brief makeout session in a bedroom closet, but later, when Harper was named MVP in 2015, Greenbaum reached out and reconnected with Harper, urging him to take a DNA test to confirm her suspicions.
Harper’s 23andWe results stunned him: 37 percent of his background came back as “Super Rabbinic Russian.” His parents knew nothing about the Jewish heritage, but everyone in the family is quite comfortable with the news.
“Mormons and Jews have a lot in common,” said Harper, who is considering having his Bar Mitzvah on the mound at Citizens Bank Park. He pointed to the Mormon prohibition against alcohol. “In my experience,” he added, “lots of Jewish people are pretty indifferent to booze. Though Britney Greenbaum did get pretty toasted at that party.”
For Passover this year, Harper will attend a baseball-themed seder that positions the four questions at four bases held at the home of Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler. Kapler is also Jewish, and maybe secretly Mormon, too.
FOP Defends Officer Whose Mother “Decluttered” Evidence Room
By Eliot Ness
Fraternal Order of Police spokesman John McNesby is fighting back on behalf of a Jewish police officer who’s been reprimanded by his superiors.
Officer Lev Mandelbaum, who’s been on the force for two years, has been indefinitely suspended with pay as the department tries to figure out how to punish Mandelbaum for letting his mother, Linda Mandelbaum, into an evidence storage room without supervision.
Apparently, it all started when Linda Mandelbaum got irritated that her son had lost a Chanukah card his younger sister made for him when they were children.
“That was a precious keepsake!” she said to him. “Where did it go?”
“I took it to work with me and was going to hang it up near my desk but it must have gotten lost in the papers and stuff. The station house is a mess, Mom.”
That was all Linda — who runs the organizing business Living Lighter With Linda — needed to hear. Using the pretext of bringing Lev a surprise lunch one day, Linda disappeared “to the ladies room,” she said, and didn’t return for five hours. Her son, who was abruptly called out on police business, forgot she was there.
But when the officers went to look for something in the evidence room the next day, they found everything had been entirely rearranged and smelled strongly of Febreeze.
Their cardboard boxes had been replaced by multicolored plastic bins, each with distinctly colored and patterned contact paper on the exterior. A small vase with a fresh spray of flowers sat on a small circular table that was wedged inside the door and overhead fluorescents had been pulled out and smashed and replaced by two floor lamps. It was unclear where she’d so quickly procured the transformative items.
Though no evidence was thrown out, the organizational system in the room was destroyed, replaced by color-coordination.
The young officer was embarrassed and apologetic, but was suspended anyway, which McNesby felt was unfair.
“Do you realize how much razzing this guy is going to get about his Jewish mother for the rest of his life on the force?” McNesby said to a reporter. “Man, that’s punishment enough.”
Face of Moses Found in Matzah
By Judy Izm
Jonathan Kugelstein opened up a box of Manischewitz’s finest matzah on March 11 and imagine the surprise he received: The face of Moses was staring back at him on the matzah sheet.
“At first I thought it was just a trick of the light, but those little dark spots were telling me something,” said Kugelstein, of Merion. “Then my girlfriend Taylor, who was also in the kitchen, dropped her glass of Tang and shouted, ‘OMG, it’s Charlton Heston.’”
Not knowing what to do next, Kugelstein called the Good Day Philadelphia team at Fox29, which immediately set up a live broadcast that aired for the next 24 hours, pre-empting the usual mind-numbing content that’s the channel’s specialty.
Kugelstein enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, particularly when Fox 29 reporter Jennaphr Frederick interviewed him live on air.
“I’m a little shy, but she ultimately coaxed me to dance with the matzah while singing ‘Matzah Man’ to the tune of ‘Macho Man,’” he laughed. “You only live once.”
Kugelstein had planned to send the matzah for scientific testing, but the unleavened bread met a tragic fate.
“I left it on the counter and my roommate, who had been out of town, came home and fried it up,” Kugelstein said. “He later told me Moses was delicious.”
Congregation Beth Stoner Opens for Weed Fans
By Mary Juana
Very Reform Congregation Beth Stoner opened up in Center City, promising to cater to marijuana-addled Jews.
Rabbi Tommy Chong and Cantor Snoop Dogg will lead the new synagogue, which has already signed on 420 congregants.
“Hey man, if you want a far-out experience where nobody will harsh your religious buzz, Congregation Beth Stoner is for you,” Chong said.
“And unlike other synagogues, where you break bread after services, we break it beforehand because we’ve always got the munchies,” Dogg added. “We put the sin in synagogue.”
Congregants will be permitted to smoke marijuana or use medical marijuana at all times, which drew protests from other area rabbis.
“Having fun in synagogue? Whoever heard of such a thing?” questioned Rabbi Fred Neulander, who said smoking marijuana violates traditional law, although hiring someone for murder doesn’t.
Local Father Apparently Eating Herring Straight From the Jar Now
By Matt Z. O’Ball
Local businessman Eric Goldman apparently eats pickled herring straight from the jar, according to his wife and daughter. “Just, like, with the tips of his fingers,” said his daughter Sarah Goldman, 16. “He … dangles it over his mouth.”
Goldman’s behavior, though not technically wrong or legally actionable, is “unsettling,” his daughter said.
Each evening, said Beth Goldman, Eric’s wife of 18 years, Goldman rises from the couch, walks over the fridge and selects the jar out of the wide array of foods that are not pickled fish. He taps on the jar, as if to say, ‘Yes, this is precisely what I needed to satiate myself,’ and then picks the herring out of the jar.
“He does this on purpose,” his wife stressed. “No one is making him do this.” He then proceeds to throw back a bit of the vinegary mush, making satisfied grunts as he finishes chewing.
Goldman, for his part, offers the herring to any and all members of his family or close circle of friends when they happen to be in the vicinity.
“I don’t really see what the big deal is,” he said, wiping a bit of the pickle juice off the corner of his mouth. “You did this story last month on the way I eat beets straight out of the can. What’s the issue here?”
Christmastime Chinese Pop-Up Restaurant Opens
By Ima Foodie
Shanghai Dynasty is opening a Christmastime pop-up restaurant in a Jewish community center parking lot to better engage its customers, a spokesperson for the restaurant said last week.
Shanghai Dynasty’s Chinatown location is already open on Dec. 25, but this pop-up restaurant will bring favorites like sweet and sour chicken, beef and broccoli and chow mein to a more convenient location.
The pop-up will be in the parking lot and not the building itself because the JCC is closed on Christmas, JCC CEO Rachel Berger said, noting the JCC’s many non-Jewish staff, as well as the staff who celebrate the holiday with interfaith families.
Multiple financial planners who stopped by the pop-up restaurant on their way to the gym — before they realized it was closed for Christmas — assessed that the pop-up would be a success.
Shanghai Dynasty declined to comment on whether the offerings would be kosher.
Unbridled Freedom of Driver’s License Allows Teenager to Go to Wawa Unaccompanied
By Stephen Glass
After 16 years of being beholden to the schedule of his parents, Matthew Shapiro, newly licensed driver, is now free to unshackle himself from the irons of childhood, to throw off the yoke of adolescence, to seize the open road as so many teens before him have done and to procure fast food for himself slightly faster than he could before.
“It’s amazing,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro, who lives within biking distance — if not walking, on a nice day — of a Wawa, a Wendy’s, a Chipotle and a McDonald’s, took driving lessons for months in order to speed up the journey of a Shorti hoagie from an employee to his mouth by about four minutes. Dozens of precious photos of Shapiro driving around an empty parking lot for the first time were taken in the service of Shapiro’s desire to get a Big Mac, hold the tomato, slightly faster.
“At first we were worried,” said his mother, Lori Shapiro. “How was he going to use this newfound responsibility? Would he take around too many friends, and get distracted? Would he play music loudly and take his focus off the road? Would he be gone every weekend?
“Luckily, none of that has come to pass,” she added, happily.
Jewish Woman Breaks Record for Longest Name
By Yentl Rosenbergman
Society Hill resident Shoshana Rubinivitzkyman never imagined that she would one day see herself in the Guinness Book of World Records.
But that’s exactly what happened, and it was love that brought her there.
After getting married in a wintry ceremony in February, Rubinitvitzkyman decided to hyphenate her and her husband’s last name, instead of adopting his surname in the more traditional choice, thus becoming Shoshana Rubinivitzkyman-Satzbergerkatzbaum.
Her friends advised against the hyphen choice, Rubinivitzkyman-Satzbergerkatzbaum said. They told her she should choose one or the other, but she felt strongly that this was the best decision for her family.
Soon after the Jewish Exponent published her mazel tov announcement, representatives from the Guinness Book of World Records reached out to her about appearing in their forthcoming edition.
“I can’t believe I was hesitant at first to join JDate when my rabbi suggested it, but I’m glad I did,” Rubinivitzkyman-Satzbergerkatzbaum said. “At the time, I thought I would just be lucky if I found my beshert, but now, I have a world record, too.”
“Dayenu!” she added.