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Satirical Newscast, Kosher Style

by Paula Roth – The Jewish Daily Forward

Mendy Pellin (right) with singer Benny Friedman at the KSCVK Auction.

Over footage of burning buildings, Israel Defense Forces troops and the Israeli prime minister, the straight-faced anchorman intones: “Great news out of Israel: Ehud Olmert has announced that the second Lebanon war was a success…. Another of Olmert’s notable successes is his attempt to comb over his bald spot.” Yes, it’s a satirical newscast, but not “The Daily Show”; nor is it “Weekend Update” from “Saturday Night Live.” On “The Mendy Report,” news is delivered by a long-bearded Hasid wearing a velvet yarmulke at a rakish tilt.

Mendy Pellin, a 25-year-old Lubavitch comedian and ordained rabbi, launched his online newscast and Web channel, ChabadTube.com, in November 2006. Since then, he’s built an international audience. Segments posted by fans on blogs and on video sites like YouTube and Google have drawn more than 500,000 views.

Collaborating with his friend Peretz Golding, the show’s co-writer and senior editor, Pellin produces episodes from a studio in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he resides with his wife, Shulamit. The show’s only correspondent, “Menachem” Pellin, bears a suspiciously uncanny resemblance to Mendy, but the host insists that “he’s no relation.” Featured segments include Chabad, Israel and world news, and “The Weekly Wink,” where Pellin explores such issues as “the secret to making the best latkes” (he uses frozen ones) and parking shortages (with a tape measure, he calculates that the 9,240 extra inches between cars equal 77 parking spots).

As the show enters its third season, Pellin will begin branching out into a new genre. In what he calls “a marriage of education and entertainment,” Pellin has partnered with the Jewish informational Web site askmoses.com and launched “AskMosesTV,” an online program featuring such educators as rabbis Simon Jacobson and Yosef Y. Jacobson, and segments like “Kabbalah Kitchen” and “Torah TV.” The show will debut February 18, coinciding with the season premiere of “The Mendy Report.”

For now, Pellin is best known for his comedic work. He receives appreciative e-mails from secular and religious Jews and, increasingly, non-Jews. A YouTube comment — “What a cool Hasid!” — explains his appeal. When Pellin took a hiatus from creating new episodes, a police officer stopped him, demanding, “When are you coming off your break?” At 770, the main Chabad shul on Eastern Parkway, even teachers who, at one time, had kicked him out of class for his shtick interrupt him constantly.

But Pellin has also created controversy. After “The Catwalk Hasid” episode, when Pellin sashayed down the annual Brooklyn Best Festival’s runway in his black hat, frock coat and white shirt, an angry Lubavitch man started the “anti-Pellin blog.” Pellin drew parents’ ire when, closing one show with a fake call from his wife, he answered, “Hi, sweets.”

While he’s aware that children look up to him — he can’t film on Eastern Parkway when Chabad’s largest boys’ school, Oholei Torah, lets out, or he’ll be mobbed — Pellin doesn’t see himself as a role model. “I have this burden to watch what I’m doing. It’s a tough balance,” he said. “Comedy is about being on the edge, and if you’re super cautious, you can’t do anything.” Still, this comedian has a mission: “Today it’s impossible to shelter kids from pop culture. I’d like to be a fun, positive alternative. Instead of this big matzo ball of guilt that’s defined the Jewish mindset, it’s important to instill pride in kids by showing them the beauty of their religion.”

When asked about his sign-off, “The shnowzal stops here,” Pellin laughed. “That’s the ever-mysterious word I get the most e-mail about, an inside joke between me and my friends. Let’s leave it at that.”


20 Comments

  • 1. Rikki Deutsch wrote:

    No offense to him or anyone else. It’s not appropo, to say the least, for a chasid of the Rebbe to act with such ‘kalis roish’. I know CH Info likes his act but I think it’s gross. Shame on him.

  • 2. DallasYid wrote:

    rikki whomever you are – what an empty statement. chasid of the rebbe….kalis roish…what’s up? So a chosid can’t laff? Get a life.

  • 3. Laurie Zimmet wrote:

    While serving in Iraq, my unit loved watching Mendy’s show…they didn’t get every joke, but they got the message – isn’t that the entire purpose for Jewish existence? Mendy is a bright star who is a light unto the nations, and B’H – to our own.

  • 4. to Dallas yid wrote:

    i don’t know that a chosid can’t laff? but you certainly can’t spell!!!!!!!!

  • 5. STOP FIGHTING!!! wrote:

    3 points
    1. it’s an inyan in Torah for a teacher to say something humorous before a shir
    2. there’s a well-known story of a lady who became frum at a farbrengan because the Rebbe said something funny.
    3. it’s a mitzvah to make yidden laugh (in a proper way)

  • 6. enough already wrote:

    To “to Dallas yid” there is no need for insults.

    To Rikki: “no offense but…” and ”shame on him”? It certainly seems like you are trying to cause offense despite the way you start your posting.

  • 7. ch mechanech wrote:

    it is still very clear that mendy is walking a fine line and cannot bring influence from hollywood etc into his show.. if he does then it is only a gateway drug leading kids on to “real” hollywood comedy, instead of a “fun, positive alternative”

  • 8. Yakov R. wrote:

    I agree with Riki. His act isn’t comedy stupid, it’s stupid comedy. Laughing and having fun is 1 thing, his stuff makes me embarrassed to be a lubavitcher.

  • 9. needs guidence wrote:

    may hashem guide him and we all love him however mendy pellin is dragging down the standard of what a chosid is and the fact that so many kids in crown height are looking up to him as a role model
    The Rebbe Has to Redeem us from this golus where everything has become kosher to do all in the name of Mivtzoyim, ETC….

  • 10. HA HA HA!!! wrote:

    mendy you are soooooooooooooo funny/hilarios(now eveyone don’t start correcting me I know I spelled that wrong)

  • 11. Berel R. wrote:

    “The Catwalk Hasid” or “Hi, sweets”.
    I’m sure the Rebbe is beaming with pride
    at this. I have no problem with comedy, on the contrary ‘a yid darf zein b’simcha’ but Pellin’s act is really pushing it and is certainly NOT condusive to anything the Rebbe expects from us. I’m sorry, but I can’t support his ‘shtik’ (act).

  • 12. hellooooooooooooo wrote:

    just keep ur stupid comments to urself!!!
    the only person who wants to know… IS YOU!!!!

  • 13. annoyed! wrote:

    EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!! CHILL!!!!!! LIFE HAS ENOUGH STRESSES! CHILL BACK! RELAX AND ENJOY THE SHOW!!!!! IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT DON’T WATCH IT!

  • 14. Bourch G. wrote:

    We as a Community have enough of a challenge raising our children in the way of the Torah, the way the Rebbe showed us, the way the Rebbe expects us to. Introducing Pellin’s ‘shtus’ and nonsense serves no one well, except of course for Pellin. We need TRUE Chabad role models for our up and coming generations we don’t need this ‘shmutz’. I don’t believe, our dear Rebbe would approve of Pellin’s ‘nourishkeit’.

  • 15. Sem girl wrote:

    actually the point of these comments are for everyone to share them with each other.
    Hellllllllllloooooooooooooooooo? if ur not interested in reading them, then don’t!
    I think Mendy rocks, and has an awesome sense of humor! But it should stay like this, and not veer into anything too foreign….

  • 16. DallasYid wrote:

    I did not mean to insult just tired of everyone always ganging up on everyone and everybody ….. what he does I’m sure brings ppl closer whatever and I know I spelled laugh “laff” and written that way intentionaly.
    So I apoligize if I offended you.

  • 17. be a mentsch wrote:

    people don’t realize that shtehking, cuts like a sword to the person being shtehked. why do people who call themselves “chassidim” think it’s perfectly fine to do this, bli gvul? i thought that chossid comes from shoresh chesed. if you don’t want your kids watching pellin, then put a password on your computer and watch what they do while they’re on. and consult your mashpia whether you’re pulling the rope too tight in this inyan.

  • 18. AGOURA HILLS wrote:

    DO ANY OF YOU ACTUALLY KNOW MENDY PELLIN PERSONALLY TO BE SPEAKING LIKE THIS ABOUT HIM? IF YOU KNEW THE SHLUCHUS HE DOES AND HAS DONE THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE YOU WOULD BE AMAZED, HE IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY A LOT OF TEENS IN MY COMMUNITY ARE CLOSER TO YIDDISHKEIT. MOST OF YOU DONT EVEN KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MENDY, HE IS A KIND HEARTED MAN FILLED WITH WARMTH AND HAPPINESS, DO NOT TRY AND PULL HIM DOWN WITH YOUR DISGUSTING COMMENTS.

  • 20. amused girl wrote:

    1)that’s a good picture of benny-but why is he in the picture this has nothing to do with him?
    2) Stop with the bad comments about Mendy! For heaven’s sake can’t you all relax a little? So maybe he said, ‘hi sweets’ is that really your concern? I’m smiling that you all are taking everything so seriously, writing bad comments and others getting so offended… hello? who cares?

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