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The Cavalier Jew

Writer-performer Jon Ross is Jewish and highly observant, but that doesn't make him an observant Jew. Though he has tremendous affection for the joys of Yiddish, with its colorful vocabulary and irreverent attitude, he has an inborn distrust of all organized religion. He favors rational examination, but, he says, most religions react to that "the way Dracula reacts to a silver crucifix." He celebrates Catskill comedians, derived from Yiddish tummlers, and he bases the title of his piece on the fact that while attending the University of Virginia, he was a mascot for the Virginia Cavaliers. Much of his spiel is centered on the tale of his brother Ricky, who was his childhood hero. Ricky's life described an improbable arc that led from adolescent basketball star to marijuana dealer, to becoming a certified accountant, a lawyer and a highly successful businessman. When a heroin addiction put the kibosh on his business career, he set out to learn Hebrew, and embraced a rigid Orthodox Judaism, trying, as Ross suggests, to "out-Jew Dad." He moved to Israel, married a woman who speaks only Hebrew and distanced himself from his family. Ross is a very funny man, but here he's more thoughtful storyteller than standup comedian. Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 13. Continues through March 16, 2008

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