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Can this great big Jesus musical make America believe? + Giuliani made antisemitic remarks about Jewish genitals

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It’s a giant musical about Jesus with a Jewish producer. Will it make America believe? There’s a grand theater tradition of musicals about Jesus: Godspell, by the Jewish composer Stephen Schwartz; Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Weber; etc. The latest entry in the genre, 22-year-old Anna Miriam Brown’s His Story, puts a new spin on the old theatrical trope: It doesn’t just want to entertain audiences — it wants to give them faith. Rebecca Salzhauer, one of our editorial interns, traveled to Texas for an inside look.

 

“Open people’s eyes to Jesus:” Brown, the oldest of 15 in an evangelical Christian family, had the idea for His Story at 16, after she first listened to the soundtrack for Hamilton. She had never studied music, so she asked one of her sisters to teach her some basic chords, and started writing: “I kind of just prayed, and I felt like something miraculous happened,” she told Rebecca. 

 

“My Jewish brother:” A family friend sent Brown’s concept album to Bruce Lazarus, a Jewish Broadway producer. He said he was initially skeptical, but “was crying” by the end of the third song. Lazarus decided to produce His Story in Dallas, within driving distance of eight of the 25 largest churches in the country. But he sees it as a musical with universal appeal.

 

“When you become a Christian, you become a Jew:” Brown has Jewish heritage on her father’s side, and grew up marking occasions like Shabbat. “Sometimes people make Christianity this whole separate religion,” she said, “but it all came from Jewish roots.” 

 

Read the story ➤

ALSO IN THE FORWARD

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A new lawsuit alleges former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made antisemitic comments. (Spencer Platt/Getty)

Rudy Giuliani reportedly made antisemitic remarks about Jews’ genitalia: A new lawsuit alleges that while Giuliani was working as an attorney for former President Donald Trump, he implied that Jewish men had penises that “were inferior due to ‘natural selection,’” made comments about “‘freakin Arabs’ and Jews” and derided Jewish observance, saying that Jews should “get over the Passover.” The lawsuit, by a woman who says Giuliani promised her a salary of $1 milllion a year to manage his reputation, accuses Giuliani of sexual assault and harassment, and of paying her only small amounts, in cash. Read the story ➤

 

Biden to host Jewish-American Heritage Month celebration at White House today: The event will feature dishes by chef Michael Solomonov, including smoked sable on challah, and a performance by Parade stars Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond — plus, perhaps, a preview of the president’s plan for combating antisemitism. Our political reporter Jacob Kornbluh spoke to a White House source about the plan, slated to be unveiled later this month. Read the story ➤

 

But wait, there’s more …

 

• A New York auction house drew ire after revealing plans to auction a canister of Zyklon B, the poison gas used to kill Jews en masse in concentration camps, and other items related to the Holocaust.

 

• A third Jewish Democrat launched a campaign for Rep. George Santos’ seat. Zak Malamed, 29, told Jacob that, after Santos was revealed to have lied about having Jewish heritage and grandparents who survived the Holocaust, his heavily Jewish district deserves someone “who has actually dealt with the issues of antisemitism.”

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WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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A Jewish teacher in a Wisconsin middle school reportedly threatened students who drew swastikas in class. (iStock)

😨  A Jewish teacher was arrested for threatening students who drew swastikas in his classroom. The seventh-grade teacher reportedly told the students he owned 17 guns and was willing to use them, and that he would send his daughter to their homes with a baseball bat. (Associated Press)

 

👀  At the U.N.’s first-ever commemoration of the Nakba, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the body it to suspend Israel’s membership until it agrees to a two-state solution. Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations called the event “a blatant attempt to distort history.” (Associated Press)

 

😡  Two people in Austria were arrested after reportedly playing speeches by Adolf Hitler over a train’s loudspeaker. The suspects, who were not identified, are also suspected of hijacking the intercom system on two other recent trains. (Associated Press)

 

📚  Israel is planning a major investment in Jewish education in North America, allocating 150 million shekels — about $40 million — to boost enrollment at Jewish day schools. (Jerusalem Post)

 

😒 A controversial auction of jewelry that belonged to an Austrian couple who profited during the Holocaust earned $202 million, making it the most expensive jewelry sale in history. Holocaust survivors in Israel urged Tel Aviv’s mayor to withdraw a local museum from a conference on looted art organized by Christie’s, the auctioneer behind the sale, after the auction house went through with the sale despite protests. (New York Times, Times of Israel)

 

😔  Israeli prosecutors indicted two Palestinian men for the February death of Elan Ganeles,  an American Israeli killed by gunfire while driving to a friend’s wedding. (Times of Israel)

 

😒  A controversial auction of jewelry that belonged to an Austrian couple who profited during the Holocaust earned $202 million, making it the most expensive jewelry sale in history. Holocaust survivors in Israel urged Tel Aviv’s mayor to withdraw a local museum from a conference on looted art organized by Christie’s, the auctioneer behind the sale, after the auction house went through with the sale despite protests. (New York Times, Times of Israel)

 

😓  A Lithuanian Member of Parliament went on an antisemitic Facebook rant, accusing Jews of communist leanings and quoting a nursery rhyme that encourages the murder of a Jew. Lithuania’s prime minister called for an impeachment investigation into the lawmaker. (Times of Israel)

 

⚽  Arsenal Football Club is cooperating with a police probe of antisemitism among its fans. The inquiry follows the discovery of antisemitic messages from 2019 in a WhatsApp group for a fan club that receives perks from the soccer powerhouse. (Guardian)

 

👑  King Charles is reportedly in talks to visit Israel. He would be the first sitting British monarch to visit the Jewish state. (Jewish Chronicle)

What else we’re reading ➤  She and her sister were held hostage by a Palestinian terror group — why can’t she remember it? … How Iowan Quakers engineered “America’s largest grassroots response to the Holocaust” … The remarkable Jewish history of a famous Tunisian tuna sandwich.

ON THE CALENDAR

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The Beach Boys, in 1987. (Harry Langdon/Getty)

On this day in history (1966): The Beach Boys released their experimental studio album Pet Sounds. The album, which debuted on Billboard charts at No. 106, used sounds from beverage cans and bicycle bells alongside traditional instruments. While The Beach Boys were widely known as a family band made up of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine, Forward contributor Seth Rogovoy writes that the band was co-founded with their Jewish neighbor David Marks. 

VIDEO OF THE DAY

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day in London — perfect weather to have a drink al fresco. If you’re in search of a new summer cocktail, we have what may be a surprising suggestion: Turn to slivovitz, the oft-maligned plum brandy historically associated with Polish Jews.

 

Thanks to Benyamin Cohen and Rebecca Salzhauer for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at editorial@forward.com.

 

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The post Can this great big Jesus musical make America believe? + Giuliani made antisemitic remarks about Jewish genitals appeared first on The Forward.

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