Celebrity Jews

‘Dancing with the Stars’

The new season of “Dancing with the Stars” begins at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 on ABC. The 12 celebrity contestants do not appear to include any tribe members. However, the biggest celeb of the 12, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is already a minor YouTube dancing sensation: In 2010, following a Hanukkah candlelighting ceremony at the Texas Capitol, he danced the hora with a group of Orthodox rabbis.

Maksim (left) and Val Chmerkovskiy

Returning this season are pro dancers Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who are brothers. Odessa-born Maksim, 36, has danced in most seasons of the show since it premiered in 2005. In 2014 he finished first, dancing with Olympic silver medalist ice dancer Meryl Davis. He then took off two full years. He’ll be paired with model Amber Rose this season. Meanwhile, Valentin, 30, is teamed with Olympic gold-winning gymnast Laurie Hernandez. Also, look for pro dancer Sasha Farber, 33, whose partner will be actress Terra Jole. In 2010, Farber and Maxim toured in a show that played Arizona. At the time, he told the Arizona Jewish Post: “We left [Belarus] because of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and also because we had to keep it quiet that we were Jewish.” Farber added that around the time he was studying for his bar mitzvah, he went to a wedding and saw a great dancer and decided that’s what he wanted to do. Plus, he said, “It’s a good way to meet girls.”

At the movies: ‘Sully’

Jeffrey Zaslow

“Sully” is based on the true, amazing story of the “miracle on the Hudson” in 2009, when Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed a damaged passenger jet in the Hudson River. Sullenberger (played by Tom Hanks) was universally praised for his skill and won accolades as a national hero. The screenplay is based on Sullenberger’s 2009 memoir, “Highest Duty,” co-written with Jeffrey Zaslow.

Zaslow died in 2012 in an auto accident at the age of 53. His widow, Sherry Margolis, 60, a Detroit-area TV news anchor, praised him as a mensch at his funeral and joined others in noting how often he helped the local Jewish community. Sullenberger, who lives in Danville, was present at the funeral — and he’s a mensch, too.

In 2009, “60 Minutes” was there when Sully and his wife, Lorrie, met with some of the passengers about a month after the incident. Lorrie, with tears in her eyes, read the couple’s favorite letter, calling Sully a “Big Apple hero”:

“Yesterday I received a voicemail from my 84-year-old father, who lives on the 30th floor of a building with river views here in Manhattan. Had you not been so skilled, my father or others like him in their sky-high buildings could have perished along with your passengers had not you landed in the river as you had. As a Holocaust survivor my father taught me that to save a life is to save a world, as you never know what the person you’ve saved nor his or her prodigy will go on to contribute to the peace and healing of the world. Bless you, dear Captain Sullenberger.”

Max Adler, 30, of “Glee” fame, has a supporting part as a passenger. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood and opens Friday, Sept. 9.

Two more mensches

Joe Jacobi

Olympian Joe Jacobi visited an Atlanta public school last week to publicly thank 7-year-old Chloe Smith, the girl who found his missing Olympic gold medal in a park rubbish bin. It was stolen from Jacobi’s car in June, and he thought he’d never see it again. Jacobi, 46, won the gold in 1992 in the two-man canoe slalom event. He was named to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

 

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.