Author Archives: Nadine Epstein

Theater Review: “Zero Hour”

zero_mostelBy Nadine Epstein and John O’Leary

When does a Communist equal a liberal equal a Jew? Today, if you delete the word “Communist.” But the phrase was most applicable in the 1950s during the heyday of McCarthy with the blacklisting of actors and writers, who most often just happened to be Jewish. An endless supply of provocative anecdotes about this era shine throughout  “Zero Hour,” the one-man play about Zero Mostel, written and performed by Jim Brochu, that is now playing at the DCJCC in Washington, DC, and will travel to off-Broadway in New York from November 14 to January 31.

Among the most memorable is a story about his drinking buddy Lucille Ball, who starred with Mostel in his first Hollywood film in 1942. Calling it an “intellectual final solution” Mostel says of the blacklist that it “targeted Jewish minds.”  In 1936 Ball had registered with the Communist Party in order to vote for Eugene Debs, and the House Unamerican Activities committee had a copy of her signed registration card. But when called before the committee, Ball explained that she had only registered as a Communist to please her grandfather and was sent home. “Her ordeal started on Monday and was over on Friday. But not so if your name was Berman, or Choderov, or my dear friend Philip Loeb.” It was Mostel and his Catholic wife who took in a Loeb after he lost his job on The Goldbergs. It was Katie Mostel who made the despondent Loeb breakfast on the morning he checked into the Taft Hotel where he killed himself. “Talking about stars on the sidewalk,” Brocha says, reflecting on Loeb’s tragic end.

Alternately heartbreaking and riotous, always illuminating, “Zero Hour” reveals a brave, strong and eccentric Zero Mostel, who stood up to the House Unamerican Activities Committee with comedic panache, and a determination not to respond to questions probing his or his friends’ political affiliations.  Brocha makes the late actor’s ups and downs come alive. One can only be delighted to learn of Samuel Joel Mostel’s good fortune to see his career come roaring back “on the Way to the Forum ” and much more.

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Jewish Google recipes

Boiled Kosher Brisket with Horseradish Salsa Verde

4 pounds boneless beef brisket
3 medium onions, quartered
6 qt Beef Broth (or chicken)
6 qts water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp black pepper
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
3 stalks celery
2 bunches flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish root
2 Tbl shallots, diced
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil

NOTE: Brisket is best if you have 3 days to make but can all be done at once. Brisket is more difficult to slice if warm.

2 days in advance: generously season with salt, refrigerate overnight

1 day in advance
– In a deep stock pot, add water, broth, onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, black peppercorns and season broth as if it were a soup.
– Warm broth so that it’s moderate (approximately 170 degrees)
– Place brisket in broth (it will float), and place a clean, smaller pan on top of meat to fully submerge.
– Gently simmer for 3-6 hours until meat is tender and “buttery.”
– Gently remove meat from broth and reserve.
– Strain broth, discarding all vegetables.
– Skim with ladle and discard fat.
– Pour “cleaned” broth over cooked brisket and cool overnight.

The day of
– When cool, place brisket on cutting board; slice brisket thinly across the grain.
– Place sliced meat in deep, ovenproof dish.
– Bring reserved broth to boil (season with salt if necessary) and pour over sliced meat, about 2/3 the way up the meat, and cover with parchment. Place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes until meat is hot.
– Rinse and pick parsley, finely chop and reserve
– Add vinegar to chopped shallots to cover (1 hour in advance).
– Finely dice celery.
– In a bowl, add parsley, celery, shallots, horseradish and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Adjust seasoning with salt, EVOO and/or vinegar to liking (should be slightly acidic).
– Spoon “salsa verde” over brisket and serve.
– Enjoy!

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The Google Seder

By Nadine Epstein

The e-mail invitation came at the last minute. Not that Google didn’t know Passover was on its way, but apparently it would have been un-Google-like to plan too far in advance. So the message arrived just a few days ahead of the special evening: “I would like to formally announce this year’s Google seder, affectionately known as Koogle@Google 2008.”

“Google? seder? Google seder?” you might ask. Not many companies (I can’t think of any others) have an official corporate seder. We’re not talking a Hanukkah or Christmas party but a full-fledged Exodus commemorative night at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, a few miles south of Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley. Continue reading