Archive for the 'Yeshiva' Category


Hillulah of Amram ben Diwan

Today’s is Tu b’Av (15th of Av), but it is also the yohrtzeit of Nachum Ish Gamzu, and the venerated Moroccan tzaddik Rabbi Amram ben Diwan.

The grave of Amram ben Diwan in Ouazzane, Morocco

Last evening, my good friends Raymond and Kim Amzallag hosted a get-together at their home for Rabbi ben Diwan‘s Hillulah. Who was this venerated 18th century Rabbi whose tomb became the site of an annual pilgrimage?

As Kim explained:

Born in Jerusalem, he soon moved to Hebron in 1743 and was sent to Morocco in order to collect donations for the Holy land from the Jewish community there.

He took up residence in Ouazzane where he opened a celebrated yeshiva and had many disciples. After 10 years in Morocco, Rabbi Amram returned to Hebron and, according to legend, entered the Cave of the Patriarchs disguised as a Muslim because it was forbidden for Jews at the time. Someone recognized him and reported him to the Ottoman Governor, who ordered his arrest. Rabbi ben Diwan fled and returned to Morocco, where he was welcomed by the Jewish community of Fez. He is credited with many healing miracles and had at least one son, Rabbi Hayyim ben Diwan. While touring Morocco with Rabbi Hayyim, the latter fell ill and doctors gave up all hope. Rabbi Amram prayed that Hashem take him instead of his son. Miraculously Rabbi Hayyim recovered almost immediately but Rabbi Amram  fell ill and died in Ouazzane in 1782.

Lighting a candle to the memory of Rabbi Amram ben Diwan and meditating on one’s personal requests…

His burial place in Ouazzane became a pilgrimage site and is regularly visited, particularly by people who invoke him to heal their illness.

May Rabbi Amram ben Diwan succesfully intercede with Hashem on behalf of everyone who needs a cure of any kind!



Tomorrow Evening’s Internet Radio Show

Zev (with the mike) and David Brooks at the Geneva Jewish Film Festival

Tomorrow, Wednesday evening, at 8:00pm (Eastern Time) our guests – on – will be brothers Zev (Writer/Producer) and David Brooks (Director), the creative duo responsible for The Yankles. Zev is an attorney in California and his brother David graduated from film school and worked on many Hollywood productions in various capacities.

They will talk to us about how the idea for the movie came about, it’s long gestation period and finally filming and editing it on a shoestring budget. As I’ve said last week, it’s hard to believe how little such a professional production actually cost them. Both brothers are very good story tellers and have many interesting anecdotes to regale us with.

I prerecorded this program while both were in town, last Thursday. It was a great session peppered with tidbits about the movie and various personal facts. It certainly was interesting, quite funny at times, and quite informative about the film making process.

Meanwhile in case you missed it, why not listen to last week’s show? Our guest were Jeffrey ElliotExecutive Chef and National Manager of Culinary Relations for Zwilling JA Henckels, and Salvatore RizzoOwner/Director of the De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy’s Herald Square store on Broadway and 34th in Manhattan.

Please tune us in tomorrow evening at 8:00pm (Eastern Time) on We will be talking with brothers Zev (Writer/Producer) and David Brooks (Director), the creative duo responsible for The Yankles.

We’ll be watching out for ya!



The Yankles

Written by Zev Brooks and directed by David Brooks, The Yankles is a delightful movie sure to make you laugh while warming your heart.

A washed up, alcoholic, disgraced major league baseball player has to perform 192 hours of mandatory community service to comply with his parole terms. No one wants him to coach for them, long past his glory, he’s now become infamous and an embarrassment to all.

When all hope seems lost, a Yeshiva wants him to coach their unlikely team. At the end, the team members and their new coach, all learn valuable lessons about life, about hope, about giving it your best.

The plot may not always seem plausible, the movie has some flaws, but the total effect – between the laughter and the profound humanity of the characters – made for a perfect hour and fifty-five minutes of entertainment. Some of The Yankles‘ scenes may lack authenticity, but through it all it is obvious that for the Brooks brothers this was a true labor of love.

Over ten years in the planning, it was finished in 2009 with a very small budget of a mere $2,000,000.00, it was shot in 29 days in Utah. Yes, folks, the chassidic characters were portrayed by… Mormons! No big name actors here, yet everyone played their parts with zest and true understanding of each character. As a result, you see not the actors acting but the characters portrayed are all too human. Frankly, I could not see anyone else in any of the main roles

Kenneth F. Brown, in particular, was extremely convincing and delightfully funny in his portrayal of assistant coach Rabbi Meyer. Coaching, while reading the rule book… The whole cast did an outstanding job!

The movie won a slew of awards, it tells its story well, doing one’s absolute best is far more important than winning at all costs. The non-Jewish, ex-convict, ex-alcoholic, coach – who never thought his ball players would ever amount to much – not only turns these guys into a winning team that catches the imagination of the networks, but also straightens himself out in the process and finds everything that seemed so elusive before.

SYR and I got to watch The Yankles this past Tuesday evening at the Manhattan JCC. We loved its sympathetic portrayal of the charedi world. It showed that in spite of what many might think, ultra-orthodox chassidic Jews are human like everyone else; though they may not mix easily with others outside their fold, their zest for life, their emotions are practically in-distinguished from the rest of society. I found it remarkably gratifying that the Brooks brothers, sons of a Conservative rabbi, would be so positive in their outlook of charedim. The movie combined some superb humorous moments, some touching scenes, some slices of human struggle and eventual triumph, with an uplifting message. The evening was fun and it proved that quite often the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

We definitely recommend watching it, gentle reader, you’ll love it! Own it on DVD or Blu-ray, which will become available on Tuesday, June 5.


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