Tag Archives: University of Toronto

Jew of the Week: Lorne Michaels

America’s King of Comedy

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michael Lipowitz (b. 1944) was born in a kibbutz in Israel. While still a child, his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada where he grew up (and graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English). He first started working as a writer for the CBC, and by 1968 moved to Los Angeles to write for a couple of comedy shows. He briefly returned to Canada in the early 70s (by now officially known as Lorne Michaels) to star in a Canadian comedy show called The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour. While working for NBC in 1975, Michaels co-created NBC’s Saturday Night, and served as its main writer and producer. The show was an instant hit, and quickly gained popularity across the country. Two years later, the program changed its name to Saturday Night Live. It has since won 36 Emmy Awards (with 156 nominations), and is consistently among the highest-rated late night TV shows. More significantly, the show launched the careers of some of the world’s best-known comedians, including Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Rob Schneider, Sarah Silverman, and Will Ferrell. Last week, the show celebrated its 40th anniversary, making it one of America’s longest-running shows (and longest-running late night show). It has also been ranked among the greatest TV shows of all time. Meanwhile, Michaels has served as executive producer of the popular shows 30 Rock and Up All Night, as well as NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and since 2013, The Tonight Show hosted by Jimmy Fallon. All in all, Michaels played a key role in over 40 films and television programs. He has won many prestigious awards for his work, and was honoured with a star on both Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. Described as America’s “primary satirical voice” and the “father of American popular comedy”, Michaels is also a member of the Order of Canada, and the TV Academy Hall of Fame.

Words of the Week

Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.
– Sir Winston Churchill

Jew of the Week: Judy Feld Carr

Saving Syria’s Jews

Judy Feld Carr

Judy Feld Carr

Judith Feld Carr (b. 1938) was born in Montreal and grew up in Sudbury. She earned a Master’s in musicology from the University of Toronto, and taught music in both high schools and universities, including Yeshiva University in New York and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the early 70s, inspired by a neighbour who was a Holocaust survivor, and by an article in the Jerusalem Post about 12 young Syrian Jews who were badly hurt when attempting to flee the country, Carr undertook a mission, together with her then-husband Dr. Ronald Feld, to help disadvantaged Jews living in Arab lands. Following the establishment of Israel in 1948, the living conditions for over a million Jews living in Arab lands became intolerable. In the following years, around 900,000 Jews were forcibly expelled from their homes across the Arab world. While the global community focuses on the Palestinian refugee crisis, few have ever paid much attention to the plight of these Jews. In Syria, Jews were barred from leaving the country (in fact, they were forbidden from traveling more than three kilometres without a permit!) and were forced to remain under terrible circumstances. Carr made contact with Syrian Jews in Canada who could help her, and then with Rabbi Ibrahim Hamra in Damascus, with whom she worked to smuggle Jews out of Syria, as well as to ransom Jews trapped in Syrian prisons. They communicated in secret by highlighting phrases in Torah texts that would be sent back and forth. Carr soon received death threats for her efforts, but persevered, even after her husband passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. In 1973, a charity fund was established at Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto to assist Carr in her work. All in all, over three thousand Jews were rescued from Syria – three quarters of the whole community. Carr was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the Order of Canada, as well as Israel’s Presidential Award of Distinction, among many others. A book about her story has been adapted to film.

Words of the Week

The three loves – love of God, love of Torah and love of one’s fellow – are all one. One cannot differentiate between them, for they are of a single essence… And since they are of a single essence, each one embodies all three.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe