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Alan Dershowitz Sees Potential in "Curb" Episode

When I blogged about Larry David’s brilliant “Palestinian Chicken” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, I focused on the role that the yarmulke played in that episode and didn’t really get into the meatier (get it?) issue that chicken can potentially play in Israeli-Palestinian relations. I figured someone would find value in that comical episode and try to use it to bring the two sides in the Mid-East crisis together for dialogue. I was just surprised when I heard it was Alan Dershowitz.

Speaking with Prof. Alan Dershowitz in my office at the
University of Michigan Hillel Foundation in 2005.

In an interview with the Columbia Current, Dershowitz explained his role in making sure Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu saw the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode:

“I recently sent a copy of ‘Palestinian Chicken,’ that Larry David gave me, to Prime Minister Netanyahu — with the suggestion that he invite Abbas over to watch it together,” he said, referring to the episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” centered around the heated competition between a kosher deli and a Palestinian chicken joint in Los Angeles. “And maybe if they both get a good laugh, they can begin a negotiating process … So it may be that Larry David will not only win Emmys, but he may even qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize, if his episode could bring together Netanyahu and Abbas, and bring Abbas to the negotiating table.”

Was it a coincidence that Larry David named the Palestinian Chicken restaurant
Al-Abbas or was it a wink at Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority?

Wow! I really think it would be fun to watch Abbas and Netanyahu viewing that episode of Curb together. The only thing that would top that would be if Larry David, Jeff Garlin and Bob Einstein were there in the room too. What would they all be eating during the viewing? Obviously, (kosher) Palestinian chicken!

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
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Curb Your Enthusiasm Minyan with Bill Buckner

Larry David’s TV show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO is known for forging into new territory for television shows. This most recent episode certainly marked a few TV firsts. To begin with, I don’t believe the following statement had ever been uttered on TV before: “I don’t wanna’ be in your stupid minyan anyway.”

I also believe this was the first time that the Jewish concept of a minyan was ever defined on a TV comedy. In one of the most creative episodes in the show’s history, Larry David attempted to revive the career of disgraced Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. Just about 25 years ago in the 6th game of the World Series, Buckner botched a slow rolling hit off the bat of the NY Mets’ Mookie Wilson to allow the winning run to score. The Red Sox eventually lost the World Series in the 7th and deciding game.

Larry David brought in Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner as guest stars in this episode which gave Buckner the opportunity to poke fun at his fielding error from a quarter century ago. But the highlight of the episode was the minyan scene.

As Larry is walking on the street with Bill Buckner, they are approached by a Jewish man (played by Jerry Adler who was Hesh on the Sopranos) who asks if they are Jewish. Buckner says he’s not and Larry is reluctant to answer affirmatively. The man explains that it’s an emergency and they need one more to make a minyan to say Kaddish before going to the cemetery. Larry explains to the confused Buckner that a minyan is “when a Jewish person dies you need to have ten men in a room to say a prayer.”

Before heading up to the apartment Larry asks Buckner if he’s ever had Jewish food before to which he responds, “Koufax gave me some kishka one time.” Once they actually make it to the shiva* one of the men refuses to allow Buckner in the room since, as a devout Red Sox fan, he can never forgive Buckner for his error in the 1986 World Series. I guess it wasn’t the best pre-Rosh Hashanah message about forgiving others for their mistakes.

*As Ami Eden of JTA correctly noted, there’s no shiva minyan before a funeral (only after). Apparently no one on the show consulted with a rabbi on that one. Oh well, it was still a hilarious episode in my opinion. Here’s the clip:

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |