Jews in the News: Paul Reiser and the Hard Ball Hebrew Major Leaguers

Pesach, the Light Side

For two years running, Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Dave Barry has come up with quite funny Passover-related remarks.

Barry, who describes himself as an atheist, is the son of a Presbyterian minister.  Since 1996, he has been married to Miami Herald sportswriter MICHELLE KAUFMAN.

They had a daughter, SOPHIE, in 2000. Sophie is being raised Jewish and Barry sometimes accompanies his wife and child to synagogue services.

On April 2, Barry did a radio interview held before a live (Miami) audience. He was asked if he would ever leave Miami. He replied: “No, because my wife won’t let me… My wife is really rooted here. She’s Cuban Jewish.

Juban, they call them. Yes, there are Jubans in the audience. They didn’t come over on rafts, they parted the Caribbean.”

In 2010, Barry told the NY Times: My wife is Jewish, and when it’s Passover, we’ll have a house full of people eating roofing materials for a week. I keep telling them: ‘Come over to the lapsed-Presbyterian side. We can eat anything.’”

Reiser Returns

Comedian and actor PAUL REISER (“Mad About You”) returns to TV in the new NBC sit-com, “The Paul Reiser Show” (starts Thursday, April 14 at 8:30 PM).

He plays a version of himself—his character is called Paul Reiser and he is the former star of “Mad About You.”

Reiser (the TV character) has two nice young kids and a very nice wife (played by Amy Landecker). He also has a group of buddies to hang out with (including one played by BEN SHENKMAN, 42).

The question Reiser asks in the series preview is: “I have everything I want. What do I do now?”  (Of course, “we know” that what Reiser is “doing now” is starring in another TV series.)

In real life, Reiser does seem to be doing very well. As we know, he has a new TV show.

Also, in real life, he’s been married to PAULA RAVETS, a psychologist, since 1988, and they have two sons, 15 and 10. In 2009, Reiser, 54, and his whole family visited Israel during Passover. He also was in Israel in 1984, when Ravets, his then-girlfriend, was studying at Tel Aviv University.

Play Ball (Hardball; Not Matzoh)

Here’s this year’s list of Hebrew major leaguers. All the players below have at least one Jewish parent and were raised Jewish or secular. This list was prepared with the aid of Jewish Sports Review magazine.

The number of players is down this year: the Dodgers’ cut outfielder GABE KAPLER, 34, at the end of spring training. Also, Texas Rangers pitcher SCOTT FELDMAN, 27, is recovering from surgery and is out indefinitely.

On major league rosters are: RYAN BRAUN, 27, outfielder, Milwaukee Brewers.

The 2007 rookie-of-year, Braun has made the all-star team every year since 2008 and had another outstanding year in 2010—hitting .304, with 25 homers, and 103 RBIs; CRAIG BRESLOW, 30, relief pitcher, Oakland Athletics. Breslow, now in his third season with the A’s, was quite effective in 2010, notching 5 saves in 75 appearances.

The former captain of the Yale University baseball team, he has a degree in biophysics and biochemistry. In January, the Sporting News named him the “smartest professional athlete” in any pro sport; IKE DAVIS, 23, first basemen, NY Mets.

In his rookie season, Davis did well—hitting .264 with 71 rbis. Plus he can field; SAM FULD, outfielder, Tampa Bay. Fuld played only 19 games with the Cubs last season and was traded to Tampa in the off-season.

He is on the roster as the fourth outfielder; JOHN GRABOW, 32, relief pitcher, Chicago Cubs. He suffered a serious knee injury in 2010.

The team is hoping he’ll return to form in 2011; IAN KINSLER, 28, second base, Texas Rangers. Kinsler, who put up All-Star numbers during his first four seasons, was injured for much of 2010 and his hitting stats were way down; JASON MARQUIS, pitcher, Washington Nationals.

Alternately brilliant and ineffective during his ten-year MLB career, Marquis was out for a good part of the 2010  with injuries. He did show good control at the very end of 2010; DANNY VALENCIA, 26, third base, Minnesota Twins.

He was called-up to the big club in June and had a good rookie season, hitting .311, with 7 home runs; KEVIN YOUKILIS, 32, Boston Red Sox. He was a 2010 All-Star and was posting his usual great numbers when an injury on Aug. 2 sidelined him for the rest of 2010.

Because this info is hard to find out and I know fans are curious: Marquis, Youkilis, and Breslow are the sons of two Jewish parents and all had a Jewish religious background while growing-up.

Kinsler, Braun, and and Fuld are the sons of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers. All three were raised secular. Grabow and Valencia are the sons of Jewish mothers/non-Jewish fathers.

Valencia, a Miami native, was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah. Grabow was raised secular.

Nate Bloom writes a weekly column on Jewish celebrities.

For the purpose of this column, Bloom defines someone as Jewish if they have at least one Jewish parent, were not raised in a faith other than Judaism, and do not follow a faith other than Judaism as an adult.

(Also counted as Jewish are converts to Judaism). Persons who meet this definition are in bold type, above.

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