Stand up for Peace

The smell of freshly baked bagels and the sound of stand-up comedy, wafted through Kemper and Underwood this past Saturday. Sponsored by Andover’s Jewish Student Union, Jewish Cultural Weekend was geared toward raising awareness and sparking interest in Jewish culture. The weekend began with an educational Shabbat service followed by a traditional Shabbat dinner. There was a solid attendance of both faculty members and students. Allison Flanders ’09 said of the Shabbat dinner, “I felt very welcome. It was very personable and quaint and I liked that the rabbi spoke at the end.” On Sunday, JSU provided a bagel brunch followed by a comedy show. Free bagels and “lox” ( Yiddish for smoked salmon) were served from 12 to 1 p.m. Then students took their seats in Kemper Auditorium to watch the much anticipated “Stand Up for Peace.” “Stand Up for Peace” is a comedy show starring Scott Blakeman and Dean Obeidallah. This partnership is unique because Blakeman is a Jew, and Obeidallah is of Palestinian descent. They perform their show all around the country for both adult and student audiences. The goal of the show is to spark conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a casual setting and also to set an example through their work. Blakeman and Obeidallah have been working together for over four years. They met through “the comedy world” and were also next-door neighbors in Manhattan. They began their show in conjunction with the summer program, “Seeds of Peace.” (However, Obeidallah insists they met through the popular Jewish singles website, The show began with introductions by the co-presidents of JSU, Jonathon Adler ’08 and Naomi Sobelson ’08. In addition to introducing the performers, Sobelson informed the audience that JSU raised over $300 through the sales of their JSU t-shirts. Obeidallah and Blakeman introduced themselves and spoke briefly about their backgrounds. Having clearly done his research, Blakeman joked, “Exeter wanted us to perform there, but they wanted us to perform on a Harkness table.” Obeidallah performed his comedy routine first. He began by asking some questions of the crowd. He asked if Andover were a competitive environment. This was met with subdued uncomfortable laughter from the audience. In his comedy act, Obeidallah concentrated on everything from Andover to MTV to being an Arab-American. He also had a fair share of political humor. Like Blakeman, Obeidallah did not miss out on the opportunity to poke fun at Andover alumnus George W. Bush. Obeidallah’s act ended with an introduction to Blakeman’s act. Blakeman’s act was more geared toward a Jewish audience. He began by reminiscing about his bar mitzvah as his first comedy show. Blakeman also spent a lot of time jabbing current policies and American political figures, especially the president. Sobelson said, “I liked Scott a lot because I could culturally really relate to his anecdotes about living in a Jewish family.” However, in response to the amount of Bush-bashing that took place, Sobelson stressed, “We [JSU] are not a politically affiliated organization.” When Blakeman concluded his individual comedy act, he invited Obeidallah back up to the stage to discuss more serious matters. They emphasized that over 60 percent of people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict support a two state solution. Obeidallah said, “Mothers on both sides cry when their children die…you have to find a solution because the status quo is not working.” Sobelson said, “The weekend is about educating and sharing Jewish Cultural and traditions. Our goal was to reach as many people on campus Jews and non-Jews alike. We did a good job in doing that.”