Saturday, September 27, 2008

You do NOT speak for me

(warning, several of the links below may be deemed inappropriate by many, click them at your own risk)

Sarah Silverman is funny.

She's also Jewish.

Or at least that's what I've been told. Her TV show, The Sarah Silverman Program had one of the most successful debuts in the history of Comedy Central last year. And in case you didn't know, she's Jewish. She worked for Saturday Night Live and has appeared on such comedies as Seinfeld, Frasier and Crank Yankers. Also, she's Jewish. Silverman has been romantically linked to such comedians Dave Attel, Colin Quinn and Jimmy Kimmel. And she's JEWISH. She's been a part of several Comedy Central Roasts, has had her one-woman show turned into a feature film as well as appearing on the cover



of Heeb magazine.

BY THE WAY SHE'S JEWISH.

And she'll keep reminding you of that fact in a way that suggests she really is proud of it. Although how proud she could be of her heritage when she's regularly dating guys who are not Jewish themselves may be up for debate, but to each their own. Clearly she has no problem with you knowing that she went to Hebrew school and loves money and has a "tuckess" (because apparently no one ever taught her how to make the chet sound) and loves doctors and has a Holocaust survivor grandmother who was at one of the "better" concentration camps.

Still with me? Because I think that may be the most stereotypes I've ever put into one sentence in my entire life. In any case, our friend Sarah is also a gigantic Obama supporter...so much so that she's encouraging young Jews to fly down to Florida where their grandparents live, to convince them that just because they're huge racists they can still be ok with voting for a black man because he's the "goodest person we've ever had as a presidential choice" who is apparently "the last hope of ending this country's reputation as the assholes of the universe."

OK terrific.

Politics aside, fact-checking aside, my biggest issue with this video is the same issue I've had with Sarah Silverman for years.

I'm TIRED of this act.

I'm tired of famous JEWS getting on a national stage and acting like just because they make fun of Jewish stereotypes that somehow it qualifies them to speak for the rest of us. And enough with the "tuckess" and the "schmeer" and the "chutzpah" and the "shlep" and the "kvetch" and all those other annoying stereotypical Yiddish phrases that when used, somehow justify the person to speak for the rest of us. It's not just Sarah Silverman, I'm also talking to you Woody Allen and you Barbara Streisand and every other brisket-eating, knish-loving, doctor/lawyer/accountant-admiring, neurotic, big-nosed, walking stereotype out there.

When I see/hear this going on, I cringe the same way I cringed when I heard Rich Vos on Opie and Anthony several months ago, having no answer for the Jewish Banker stereotype.

I mean who elected Sarah Silverman as a representative of the Jewish community anyway? Who elected any of our representatives? In fact, who ARE our representatives for that matter?

All these Hollywood Jews who hog the spotlight? Enough already! What did any of these people do to earn the right to speak for any of us? They have Jewish last names? They've all seen Fiddler on the Roof? They say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas? What, exactly qualifies them to speak for us? What have they done to advance Jews, Judaism or our homeland, the state of Israel? What do they even know about this culture that they claim to love so much?

Because they certainly aren't doing very much to break down those stereotypes that have held us down for thousands of years. Rather, they're perpetuating them. Not by making jokes...but by not supporting the causes that they should be supporting. The causes that actually affect our future.

The Streisands and Silvermans and Allens of the world want us to allow them to speak for us as Jews who are comfortable with their heritage? Where are they on issues such as the future status of Jerusalem (our ancient capital of 3,000 years)? Where are they on issues such as the thousands upon thousands of rocket attacks on Sderot and the Western Negev? Where are they on issues such as the continuing Gilad Shalit hostage crisis - now in its 826th day! Where are they on such topics as intermarriage and what the the future of Jewish identity in America will be?

.

..

...


.......silence. Nothing. Zero.


And the reason for this? Because these people have NO CLUE what Jewish identity even is! Jewish identity to these people is knishes and briskets and oy vey. Jewish culture is lox and hava nagila and banker stereotypes. Gilad Shalit doesn't matter to these people because he does not even EXIST in their worlds. How can he? He doesn't talk or walk or act anything like them.

But he exists in MY world. And in my world there's a lot more to being Jewish than having a big nose and fat bank account.

So don't tell ME who to vote for Sarah or Woody or Barbara. Don't tell ME what Jews should or should not do at all for that matter.

You want to know who to talk to about being Jewish? An Israeli soldier. A Holocaust survivor. The convert who voluntarily left their family behind to be one of us. The rabbi who has devoted his entire life to learning about Judaism, teaching it to a new generation and showing young Jews what this ancient culture is really about. The Zionist activist who raises money for victims of terror attacks in Israel. These are the people that should speak for us...people who understand the concept of SACRIFICING something for the betterment of the sons and daughters of Israel. Not these spoiled, self-absorbed, vapid, shallow embarrassments to our ancestors who sit around and pat themselves on the back for nothing more than being born into a religion they never embraced or fully understood.

We need to take control of our representation. Think long and hard about it and decide if this is the kind of image you want to project to the outside world. Are we not tired of EVERYONE else thinking that we are a bunch of self-deprecating, neurotic weasels? Because I sure am.

Do we really want Sarah Silverman as the poster-child for 21st century Judaism? Is she really the person we want speaking for and representing us? Because I sure do NOT.

It's time everyone understood we are not the stereotypes that these people project of us. It's time everyone understood that there's more to being Jewish than knowing a few Yiddish phrases.

But most importantly it's time everyone understood that these people do not speak for all of us.

9 comments:

Chaya said...

You're good! I posted you on my Profile page on Facebook. You should - hopefully - get some visitors.

Chaya said...

You're good! I posted you on my Profile page on Facebook. You should - hopefully - get some visitors.

RonMossad said...

Thank you! What's your Facebook page I'll add you as a friend. You can email me at lirin00@hotmail.com if you don't want to post it publicly.

Micha (you are late!) said...

Once again, very well put.
I was equally offended by the Sarah Silverman ad, for the reasons that you mentioned as well as a couple of others.
1) I was quite horrified by her suggestion that elderly Florida jews would vote against obama because they are racists (or perhaps she was suggesting that anyone who doesn't vote obama is a racist).
2) I know this was all tongue-in-cheek, but i think its alittle offensive that Sarah Silverman is implying that old folks can't think for themselves, and that we somehow have a responsibility to swoop in and think for them.
Jews should be coming to Florida to get a good tan, not try to rig the election!

Rich The Blond said...

Really????
I never thought that Sarah/Barbara/Woody ever spoke for Jews just like I don't think that Margaret Cho speaks for Asians and Dave Chappelle speaks for Blacks.

RonMossad said...

Rich:

Well that's because you're an educated person and you know better. Can we say that for most of the dopes that watch TV and Sarah Silverman may literally be their only exposure to a Jewish person? Or maybe they do know some Jews but none as IN-YOUR-FACE-LOOK-AT-ME-I'M-JEWISH as Silverman. Or Streisand.

Ironically, the fact that you bring up Cho and Chapelle sort of lends credence that these celebrities represent their minorities in some way. Maybe they don't "speak for" them but to many people, they do represent them...which then by extension means they do speak for them. To take it back to the yeshiva, it's the whole kiddush/chillul Hashem concept.

Great screen name by the way.

RonMossad said...

Micha:

Thanks - I agree...the implication that all of our grandparents are racists smacks of the faux-liberal practice of guilting people into making amends for crimes they never committed. It's ridiculous.

dlevy said...

Jews aren't monolithic, and no one speaks "for the Jews." But by the same token, you do not have the right to write them out of the story, either. To take just one of your examples, Streisand faced discrimination in her profession because she wasn't "conventionally" pretty enough (meaning: she looked "Jewish") and received death threats for kissing Omar Sharif on screen. She's raised money for Israel and included both her rendition of Hatikvah and her phone call with Golda Meir on her retrospective CD boxed set. She hasn't had an "authentic" Jewish experience? Who made you the arbiter of authenticity?

Ron said...

dlevy - you misunderstand. I'm no arbiter...my whole issue is with the Jews that claim they are. When you act as if you are the representative of a community you hold yourself to a pretty serious spotlight and had best be able to stand up to the scrutiny.

HOWEVER. There is a pretty basic formula for authenticity. Again we're not talking about who is authentically Jewish or not, that's ridiculous because anyone born to a Jewish mother is by definition authentically Jewish.

If we're talking about a representative or leader - they should at least have knowledge of Jewish laws and culture and should be proud of their Jewish heritage. The fact that Streisand is married to a guy who isn't Jewish automatically disqualifies her as a representative of the community. The fact that she devotes as much of her time to supporting the Democratic Party as opposed to focusing on Jewish issues further proves that she is not qualified to speak on our behalf.

Her on-screen romance with Omar Sharif means exactly ZERO to me. Every Jew worth his salt has taken flak for what they were born into. Most of us haven't been paid millions in exchange for it.