Stripping For HaShem

Danielle Berrin writes:

Emma Forrest

It’s safe to say that something unprecedented and never before attempted in the history of Judaism took place at “Heeb Storytelling” on Sept. 23: During her 7-minute Jewish stand-up routine, writer Emma Forrest performed a burlesque strip-tease to Craig Taubman’s L’cha Dodi. There she was—on stage in a knit wrap dress, telling a story about self-loathing and her Jewish looks, when in a burst of bravery she lifted the dress over her head and kick-lined around the stage clad in a red-fringe two-piece. It was like Ziegfeld’s Follies transplanted to M Bar in Hollywood—set to the music of Friday Night Live. 

“Shed your leaves in winter,” she said. “And you come to bud in spring.”

Forrest wasn’t the only entertainer that evening, just the scene-stealer. The warm British accent, the hot little number and a coterie of fans that included actresses Natalie Portman and Kate Beckinsale as well as her latest flame, Irish-actor Colin Farrell, sporting a Star-of-David dangling from his neck. He looked pleased with her rapturous performance.

Call it racy or raunchy, but this is the kind of Jewish-is-cool Heeb Magazine, the evening’s sponsor, is all about. As publisher Josh Neuman said in his introduction, “The magazine pushes the notion of what constitutes a Jewish story.” The irreverent, tongue-in-cheek quarterly, more than being artsy or literary, promotes a social element that reframes the way in which young Jews can gather together as a community. 

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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