Tag Archives: Forest Hills

Jew of the Week: Drake

Drake, in one of his music videos

Drake sporting a kippah and tallit in one of his music videos

Aubrey Drake Graham (b. 1986) was born in Toronto to a Jewish-Canadian mother and an African-American father from Tennessee. His parents divorced when he was 5 so Drake was raised by his mother in Toronto’s predominantly Jewish area of Forest Hills. It was in high school that Drake began to act, and at age 15 landed a role on the teen show Degrassi: The Next Generation, thanks to his friend’s father who was an agent. He appeared in 138 episodes until his character “graduated” off the show in 2009. Meanwhile, Drake was recording various rap mixtapes, one of which got in the hands of Lil Wayne, who later invited Drake to tour with him and record a few songs. In 2009, Drake released his third mixtape, So Far Gone, for free download on his blog. It would find huge success and was called the ‘Hottest Mixtape of 2009’ by MTV. Drake became only the second artist in history to have two of his songs in the Billboard top ten within the same week. Later in the year, he was finally signed to a major label. Since then, Drake has released three successful albums, working alongside Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Eminem, Timbaland and many others, as well as writing songs for Dr. Dre, Jamie Foxx and Alicia Keys. He has won a Grammy and three Junos, and holds the record for having the most number-one singles of any rapper. Drake has also become famous for proudly displaying his Jewish and Torontonian roots, particularly in his videos. Most recently, Drake became the global ambassador for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and a consultant for their 20th anniversary re-branding.

Words of the Week

When one looks truly at the good side of everyone, others come to love him very naturally, and he does not need even a speck of flattery.
Rabbi Avraham Itzhak Kook

Jew of the Week: Donna Karan

The Queen of Seventh Street

Donna Ivy Faske (b. 1948) was born in Forest Hills, New York and grew up in the “Jewish Greenwich” of Five Towns, Long Island. She was raised by a single mother who worked as a fashion model. Karan began her fashion career drawing sketches for Liz Claiborne. Although she dropped out of designer school, her talent propelled her onward, working first with fellow Jew Anne Klein, and eventually starting her own company with husband Stephen Weiss. In 1985, the Donna Karan Co. line premiered for the first time – with the motto “modern clothes for modern people” – and was an instant hit. Along with her popular Essentials and Signature lines, in 1988, Karan launched a new line for youth that has since gained even greater fame: abridging ‘Donna Karan New York’ to DKNY. The brand became huge worldwide (and currently operates 70 stores around the globe), and is often seen as a symbol of New York City itself, likely due to the famous ad poster, which has been called a ‘New York landmark’. A winner of multiple awards, Karan has been nicknamed ‘The Queen of Seventh Street’.


Words of the Week

In material matters, one should always look at he whose situation is lower than one’s own, and thank the good God for His kindness to him. In spiritual matters, one should always look at he who is higher than oneself, and plead with God to grant him the intelligence to learn from the other, and the ability and strength to rise higher.
– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Hayom Yom, Cheshvan 24)

Jew of the Week: Jack Lew

Highest Ranking Orthodox Jew in the U.S.

Jacob Joseph Lew (b. 1955) grew up in Queens and graduated from Forest Hills High School. He is the son of a lawyer originally from Poland. Lew began his career in politics working as an aide to a democratic representative, while also studying at Harvard, and later rose through the ranks in Congress. Eventually he became director of several institutions, including the Center for Middle East Research. In 1993 he was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton. His amazing work in the budgeting department led to him becoming the director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton Administration, meanwhile serving on the National Security Council. After Clinton’s term ended, Lew was Vice President of New York University, where he also served as Clinical Professor. Lew returned to government with the Obama administration, first as Deputy Secretary of State, then Budget Director, and most recently White House Chief of Staff (the highest ranking White House employee – sometimes nicknamed the “Co-President”). He has since taken up the position of Treasury Secretary, making him the highest ranking Orthodox Jew in U.S. history. It also means his signature will appear on all newly printed currency in the U.S. This sparked a bit of controversy due to Lew’s funny signature, causing President Obama to joke that he wanted to rescind the nomination when he saw it. Lew is a practicing Orthodox Jew, devoted to his family and his community. In the past he assisted Natan Sharansky in freeing Jews from the former Soviet Union, together with his rabbi, who has described Lew as “one of the most unassuming, giving, and caring congregants I’ve ever been blessed to have… rare for a person in such a powerful position to be the quintessential mensch.”


Words of the Week

Man… sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present, the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.
– The Dalai Lama

Jack Lew’s Loopy Signature