Tag Archives: Christmastime for the Jews

Mike Birbiglia’s “The New One” on Broadway is hilarious. A great James Corden/Lin-Manuel/Emily Blunt musical montage. And at Christmas, as always, the Jews eat Chinese food.

A couple of things today before we get into the blog: 1, Merry Christmas to all of you out there who celebrate; hope you get everything you desire under your tree. 2, Like I’ve done the last few years, the last two blogs of this week, and the New Year’s Eve blog, will be “Best of Good News Friday” posts, where I look at all the stories I’ve featured over the past 50 weeks of Fridays and post my favorites again. I get great feedback from you readers when I do it, and it always gives me something positive to think about heading into the new year. OK, on with the show…

Mike Birbiglia is like a great restaurant hidden away somewhere deep in town, or a terrific book that only some people have read.

What I mean by that is, if you know his comedy and are familiar with his style, you love him and rave about him to everyone you know.

But the problem is, if you don’t know him, you’re in the majority. Birbiglia is famous, but not like Louie C.K. or Kevin Hart famous. He can probably walk into most rooms and not be mobbed, but he also probably can get a good table at most restaurants.

I’ve been a Birbiglia fan for at least a decade, since I first started hearing him on radio shows and in TV spots. He looks unassuming and doesn’t have any killer schtick or gimmicks; he’s just really freaking smart and really funny.

I’ve watched his movies and seen him on countless shows, but until Saturday, I’d never seen him live. But when I heard he had a new Broadway show out this winter, I knew I’d finally get to see him live.

And so Saturday the wife and I saw him live, and I knew we’d have a great time at “The New One” when, walking to the theater 30 minutes before showtime, we saw the star himself going in a side entrance not five feet in front of us.

“Have a great show Mike!” my wife yelled out. “Hey thanks!” he yelled back. That was fun.

As I expected, “The New One” was fabulous. Ostensibly, it’s about Birbiglia and his wife trying to have a child, then what life was like once their daughter was born, and how the first year went.

But really, the show is just Birbiglia doing what he does best: Telling relatable stories and making them hilarious. When he says stuff like “I’ve played in small towns, towns that weren’t even towns, cities that were Applebee’s with a dream,” I’m laughing out loud.

Birbiglia is brutally honest about why he didn’t want to ever have kids (after listing all his physical maladies and emotional issues, he says to his wife “you really want to put more of this into the world?”), and then tears-in-your-eyes crying funny about the transitions he and wife Jen had to go through once the child was born.

Honestly, I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Birbiglia is a master comedian who should be way more famous than he is.

If you’re anywhere near New York in the next month, I highly recommend “The New One.” Or check out any of Birbiglia’s work on YouTube.


**Next up today, my wife is a huge fan of musicals and while I don’t, ahem, share that passion, I know millions of people do so I thought this was definitely worth sharing. And I have to admit, it was superbly done.

James Corden teamed up with the stars of the new “Mary Poppins Returns” movie, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, for a fantastic tour through great musicals past and present.

The “Into the Woods” bit is hilarious, as is “The Wizard of Oz.” Relax and enjoy and then try not to sing at least one of these the rest of the day.

**And finally today, it is of course Christmas Eve, which for millions of Christians means waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, delivering presents and devouring cookies (hey kids, isn’t Santa hefty enough? Maybe leave vegetables if you want Santa to live a long, healthy life).

But for us Jews, Christmas Eve means one thing above all: Eating chinese food. So as I try to do every year on Christmas Eve in this space, I give you the brilliant “Saturday Night Live” sketch called “Christmas Time for the Jews,” which is hilarious and spot on.

Enjoy that lo mein, my fellow Members of the Tribe!

Merry Christmas, from your favorite blogging Jewish man. An awesome $10,000 donation to a church leads to wonderful results. And an 8-year-old dancing goalie makes me smile

Merry Christmas to all of you wonderful readers out there who celebrate Jolly Old St. Nick and all that the holiday represents. I of course will not be waking up today with presents under my tree; we had eight crazy nights of Hanukkah last week and my 3-year-old is still opening some of the gifts he received.

But I hope the Christmas celebrations were terrific in your part of the world, and that you have a great day. Quick programming note: I think I’m going to do something a little different to end 2017, a year that has been very difficult for so many. On Wednesday and Friday I’m going to present five or six of my favorite “Good News Friday” stories or videos from the entire year, to try to send ’17 out on a happy, uplifting note.

For today, a few cool stories/videos I hope you’ll like. First, as always, Christmas means one thing for us Hebrews: Chinese food! Happily the Lewis family and some friends will be chowing down on some sesame chicken and wonton soup tonight, so of course I feel obligated to post the great “SNL” clip from 2005 featuring Darlene Love singing “Christmastime for the Jews.”

The line at 1:33 about “Fiddler on the Roof” with Jewish actors slays me every time.

**Next up,  this Washington Post story pointed to me by my smart and funny friend Kelly M. was just beautiful. A church in Severna Park, Md. was stunned recently to receive an anonymous $10,000 donation, and instructed to give 100 members of the congregation $100 each to spend and improve the world in the small way they saw fit.

“Listen to the need that’s around you, that you find in the community. You may be in the right place at the right time to help somebody, because you have this in your hand,” said Rev. Ron Foster.

One hundred congregants walked out into the Advent season, with the money burning a hole in their pockets.”

What a wonderful gift. In the story the donor talks about wanting to do something good, to lift her and everyone’s collective spirit. More from Julie Zauzmer’s heartwarming story:

Ginger ale and soup and warm socks for a cancer patient. Snow pants and gloves so a child with a brain tumor can play outside. Christmas presents for children who are homeless, for children whose parents are struggling with drug addiction, for children whose parents have suffered domestic abuse, for children in the hospital. Cash for dozens of grateful strangers, from waitresses to bus drivers to leaf collectors.

I love how seriously the congregants took their responsibility, and how many did so much good.

**Finally today, allow me to introduce you to the dancing 8-year-old hockey goalie Noah Young, from Brampton, Ontario. If you think it’s easy moving with all those pads on, it isn’t. Someone get this kid a TV show, pronto.

Good News Friday: Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. And three of my favorite Good News Friday stories from 2015

For all my readers out there who celebrate this holiday today, I say Merry Christmas, and ho, ho, ho. May you have gotten whatever you asked for in your stocking, and that you have a wonderful day with you and your family. Me? Like all other Jews in America, as is written in the Torah, I’ll be at a Chinese restaurant. (Actually I won’t be, but I’m pretty sure it IS in the Torah.)

Given that this is the last Friday of 2015, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite Good News Friday stories of the year here.

I hated narrowing it down to just three, but I know you’ve got presents to open and I’ve got moo shoo pork and egg rolls to eat.

**First off, this was from a GNF post in May, and it may be my favorite thing I saw this year. It’s a video of a father doing a rare thing at a wedding: Giving a speech to the groom while they’re up at the altar during the service, not at the reception.

This dad, whose name isn’t on the video, gives his future son-in-law Phillip a little talking-to, in a loving, oh-so-sweet tribute to the woman Philip’s about to marry. It’s about love and Jesus and how much the father loves his daughter… yeah, I cried at the end (and I’m Jewish, that’s how good it is.)

**Next up, this next story I love because it’s so out of the blue and delivered such random joy to dozens of people stranded at an airport.

During a flight delay in June at LaGuardia Airport, the touring casts of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” decided that with everyone in a grumpy mood, they’d put on a little impromptu performance.

And as you might expect, it was awesome.

**And finally, I love this wonderful tradition. Every year, a wealthy businessman, who remains anonymous, travels the country in December and gives out $100,000 to perfect strangers, usually in $100 increments.

And for the last several years, he has allowed Steve Hartman from “CBS Sunday Morning” to tag along. The look on the strangers’ faces … just perfect.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.