Idol Chatter

charlescamillia.jpgI like a good celebrity interest story as much as the next person, but so much of celebrity news is–yes, I’ll say it–neither news nor terribly interesting. And now that Hanukkah’s over, I can rant a little bit about the celebrity photo ops around the holiday season, especially those of said celebs “celebrating” holidays other than “their own.” (Notice my use of seemingly extraneous quotation marks, utilized here to underscore the fact that I would never tell celebrities or anyone else which holidays they should or should not feel affinity for, nor do I believe that simply lighting candles constitutes a “celebration” of Hanukkah.)For instance, TMZ’s reportage of Nicole Richie as “yenta turned yentl” because she posed with Orthodox Jewish boys and a box of candles, or their creating a clearly untrue implication that Prince Charles and Camilla Jessica Parker-Bowles are converting to Judaism because they’re lighting Hanukkah candles. Calling that a stretch would be an understatement. The recent New York Magazine gifts issue featured Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman talking about the way they celebrate the holidays–well, at least as far as toys were concerned, because of the tie-in to the apparently disastrous “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.”Israeli-born Natalie (the darling of every celebrity-obsessed Jewish male blogger, trust me) was true to form, naming Hanukkah as the holiday she celebrates; when asked about gifts, she steered clear of ostentation, pimping her friends’ projects–notably a friend/toy store owner whose toys encouraged children to be creative, and support for friends who had opened a medical clinic in Kenya. (Note to self: become friends with Natalie Portman.) But there was no talk of Maccabees, miracles, or even menorahs. (Which, by the way is the wrong word: menorahs have seven branches…the Hanukkah candelabrum, known as a Hanukkiyah, has eight. But I Hebraically digress.)Hoffman acknowledged his Jewish roots, but that because his father was an atheist, his family celebrates Christmas. Which is fine with me if Christmas was a holiday all about getting presents. But isn’t there supposed to be some religious significance there to celebrate? If you’re an atheist, shouldn’t you celebrate nothing?I guess I understand that sometimes, celebrities just have to keep their names in the paper, and their faces on television. And I appreciate the fact that some Hanukkah rituals (ok, one: lighting candles) are so well-known that they’re instantly recognizable as such. And I do love it when youth/popular culture and Jewish life overlap, as in the sacrilegious use of a shofar (ram’s horn used mostly for Rosh Hashanah) in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” (Speaking of that hamburger-seeking, non-Jewish duo, they recently recorded this advert/greeting/promo shown at The Eight, a Hanukkah concert series launched by free Israel trip provider taglit-birthright israel.)But you know what would be interesting? If, instead of Charles and Camilla, or Nicole and her Orthodox admirers, Jewish celebrities were actually filmed celebrating Hanukkah? Have Jeremy Piven sing the blessings over the Hanukkah candles. Greg Grunberg, now on a show called “Heroes,” might talk about the heroism of the Maccabees. How’s that for something original and news-making?

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