Heeb Publisher Comes Clean On Barr Brouhaha

Many have been up and arms over our recent photo of Roseanne Barr as a “Nazi domestic goddess” in our Germany Issue, questioning how, as Jews, we could ever find any humor in such a subject. When I hear such sorrowful pleas, I want to cry from remorse, but I’m afraid the ensuing suds would cake the lenses of my glasses.

Yes, the story of this infamous satirist/Jewish grandmother pulling a tray of burnt “Jew cookies” out of an oven has been making its way around the Internet–stirring up all sorts of bizarre accusations towards her and completely ignoring the very particular context in which the image was created. So, for all of you coming to this website who haven’t yet seen the issue–or are unfamiliar with what we do in our magazine–allow me to explain.

Heeb is a satirical Jewish culture magazine that interrogates stereotypes and ideas (hopefully in creative ways) that many hold sacred in order to represent the complex and nuanced perspectives that many Jews have about their identities. When we depicted Sarah Silverman behind a hole in a sheet or Jonah Hill dressed as Moses holding two kegs as if they were tablets, we weren’t trying to be shocking–we were trying to communicate something truthful about contemporary Jewishness. Yes, that may sound impossibly high-fallutin, but it’s the truth and while we kind of don’t give a shit whether the magazine wreaks havoc on smug and sanctimonious visions of Jewish life, we do care when our intentions (or those of our collaborators) are distorted.

Virtually every pitch we received leading up to the publishing of our Germany Issue circled back to the Nazis and the Holocaust and almost all of them were humorous in nature. Naturally, our editors couldn’t help but wonder whether something new was happening in the culture— whether the taboo against joking about the Holocaust and the Nazis exerted as much power as it used to. Certainly Jews have been joking about the Holocaust since the Holocaust (I believe it was the Warsaw Ghetto where the Jewish inhabitants referred to Hitler regularly as “Horowitz”), but these jokes have largely been uttered in private or underground. In recent years, they have been finding themselves in the most public of conversations.

Seinfeld‘s “Soup Nazi” is as much a part of American culture (and Jewish culture, specifically) as Fiddler on the Roof, and Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s “Survivor” episode is about as controversial as a Christmas Day screening of Annie Hall. And the trend seems to only gather momentum.

Just this month, Brüno (at one point, America’s number one box office draw) introduced the concept of “bleaching one’s Auschwitz” and the climax of theThe Hangover (which has now grossed over $247 million) revolved around a stripper (played by Heather Graham) returning the ring of the grandmother of one of the leads (played by Ed Helms). “I didn’t know that they gave out rings in the Holocaust,” jokes the character played by Zach Galifianakis.

And what better way to capture this moment in popular culture than by having the original “domestic goddess” don the Fuhrer’s famous mustache? For better or worse, hasn’t the Holocaust itself been domesticated?

What do you think?

About The Author

Josh became an editor-at-large after accruing exorbitant legal fees as the publisher of Heeb in his efforts to trademark the word "irreverent." Follow him on Twitter @joshuaneuman.

56 Responses

  1. ladyofargonne

    I am Jewish and have worked for a JCC and as a synagogue administrator. The first time I saw your magazine I wanted to cry. Is there a magazine for African Americans named “n*****”? Or one for gay men called “F*****”?

    Your choice of promoting RoseAnn

    Reply
  2. username1

    When I first saw these pictures, I was shocked beyond words. After looking at the magazine website and seeing that this was all made by Jewish people and a Jewish magazine, I was even more disgusted. The “domestication of the Holocaust” is something that

    Reply
  3. jewish39

    I don’t know what’s worse, this disgusting pictorial or the fact that it was conceived and done by fellow jews. We may make fun of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and if anyone deserves that treatment it’s them. But portraying our people as “Jew Cookies” bein

    Reply
  4. jewish39

    I don’t know what’s worse, this disgusting pictorial or the fact that it was conceived and done by fellow jews. We may make fun of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and if anyone deserves that treatment it’s them. But portraying our people as “Jew Cookies” bein

    Reply
  5. guyww

    I am a 35 year-old Israeli, third generation to holocaust survivors. I am totally disguisted from this artile. There are levels of “black humor”. The soup nazi episode did make fun of the whole nazi thing. But if you compare the episode with what this

    Reply
  6. erikaherzog

    i think this is the funniest pictorial / article i’ve read by HEEB ever. great story, insane pictures, and i am still chuckling. i do jewish genealogical research and a lot of it makes me cry (yad vashem, stories about shtetls my family and extended mem

    Reply
  7. mrnhghts

    ladyofargonne wrote, Or one for gay men called “F*****”?

    Kinda.

    http://www.queermagazine.se/

    username1 wrote,

    The “domestication of the Holocaust” is something that we Jews should be trying to stop and fighting against it

    No.

    Reply
  8. mrnhghts

    ladyofargonne wrote, Or one for gay men called “F*****”?

    Kinda.

    http://www.queermagazine.se/

    username1 wrote,

    The “domestication of the Holocaust” is something that we Jews should be trying to stop and fighting against it

    No.

    Reply
  9. mrnhghts

    ladyofargonne wrote, Or one for gay men called “F*****”?

    Kinda.

    http://www.queermagazine.se/

    username1 wrote,

    The “domestication of the Holocaust” is something that we Jews should be trying to stop and fighting against it

    No.

    Reply
  10. jtiller

    You are an absolute jacka**. How can you compare a generalization about the character of the Soup Nazi to the incineration of people? You can’t!

    The Soup Nazi’s character is a depiction of the harshness of the Nazi’s. Showing a Hitler character pull

    Reply
  11. mrnhghts

    The Soup Nazi’s character is a depiction of the harshness of the Nazi’s

    jtiller, that is a completely absurd understanding of the Soup Nazi. Why are all the OFFENDED(!) commenters here such tards?

    Reply
  12. Davidk14

    Making jokes about serious matters might help some with the pain caused. Jokes turn into laughter. Laughter for some turn into denial. For those that laugh at nazi jokes or feel its time not to be so sensitive…search holocaust / nazi extermination of

    Reply
  13. Galp

    I’m surprised at seeing how many of the comments are negative. If I understand Heeb’s editor’s intentions, they set out to pictorialize the “mainstreaming” of holocaust humour. They didn’t condone it or make any value judgement, as far as I can tell. A

    Reply
  14. Cyn777

    I’m not Jewish and I’m not amused. I don’t see anything funny about the picture…nor do I think contemporary Jews help their cause, are more elightened, or even show a better sense of humor than their counterparts by choosing to laugh or create satire

    Reply
  15. carmitipapiti

    Perhaps you can explain coherently how jokes in reference to jewish practice and tradition are comparable to ones about genocide. I will not give any more time to excuses or arguments justifying an image that bears no intelligent or artistic valor. The pi

    Reply
  16. fornat

    Joshua Neuman said “Certainly Jews have been joking about the Holocaust since the Holocaust”.

    HUH? I’m your typical American Jew. I can’t remember hearing a single joke about the Holocaust from gentile or jew. Sorry, 6 million deaths? Taboo my bru

    Reply
  17. FayeKane

    This finally smashes forever the glass box of sadness and anger that the Jewish people have been trapped in since 1945,

    Free, at last.

    Reply
  18. kojaknga

    I am not a Rosanne fan, however for her to be a part of this satire was offensive to not only all Holocaust survivors but to Jews everywhere. Now for you Heeb to hide behind the 1st Amendment and say”but it was satire” is cowardly. Also to say that you

    Reply
  19. thedogman

    i have been involved in comedy for decades, and i have a very open mind. this attempt at whatever it is you are trying to achieve is simply beyond belief. roseanne barr is an offensive human being, and no advertiser should ever support your endeavors. any

    Reply
  20. ThePriest

    I don’t find making the trivalization of geniocide not a good thing. I have never heard a single joke, or any joke about the holocaust. I would be really interested for the Editor to give me the top 10. Using Rosanne makes it even sadder and sick. The

    Reply
  21. LamestMagazineEver

    GIANT NIPPLES!

    (I didn’t write that to get you to read my post, I just did it to satire sexual perverts)

    I opened this publisher comment expecting to read the cunning of a suave editor, wording a compelling argument to justify these atrocious pictures.

    Reply
  22. JewishAndProud

    Never again. This is the promise we made. This is a promise we will keep.

    Your attempt to be provocative has, once again, provoked attention and while your twisted minds may believe that all attention, good or bad, is actually good, be clear – that is

    Reply
  23. MarcBrukhes

    Open Letter to Heeb Magazine:

    The Roseanne Barr photos JUST DON’T WORK; they aren’t funny and they aren’t provocative–they’re just insensitive and dumb. What’s worse, they give comfort to anti-Semites by treating anti-Semitism as just another joke: “see

    Reply
  24. MarcBrukhes

    The photos don’t work, as satire, humor, or even provocation. Admit you made a mistake, issue an apology, even an insincere one, and move one. There’s no betting on this pony….

    Reply
  25. phillberg

    “Naturally, our editors couldn’t help but wonder whether something new was happening in the culture— whether the taboo against joking about the Holocaust and the Nazis exerted as much power as it used to.”

    Well now you know the taboo still exists giv

    Reply
  26. shayna19

    I am Jewish. And I am only 17 in my senior year of high school. But you know what? I think I have a whole lot more sense than all of Heeb’s editors combined. I have a question for your Jewish editors, such as Joshua Neuman. Have you ever lit a vigil in ho

    Reply
  27. Puck

    Carmitipapiti…your comments regarding Roseanne’s “conversion” are far more offensive and tasteless than anything I’ve seen come out of her mouth.
    Your apparent belief of genetic superiority of “real” Jews as opposed to “converts” have far more in commo

    Reply
  28. shayna19

    And also, the joke in the Hangover was funny because it obviously didn’t happen. The joke in Bruno didn’t make sense. This ‘joke’ is a clear portrayal of something that actually happened.

    Reply
  29. Puck

    So humour is defined by whether or not something makes sense…erm…or whether it happened (not sure how that applies to the Hangover scene…the Holocaust did happen, if you’re saying they didn’t give out rings, well, they didn’t make people out of Ging

    Reply
  30. boychik

    Is it just me or are the people with the most antipathy towards the shoot also the people with the poorest grasp of syntax and grammar?

    Reply
  31. Norman_Fell

    You guys do realize those were cookies and not real people, right?

    Reply
  32. shayna19

    No..not exactly. The portrayal of Roseanne wearing a swastika and holding dead Jews isn’t funny because it’s not far from the truth, it’s like laughing at a reenactment of the Holocaust. So what if she’s not Hitler, she’s dressed like him.
    I do understand

    Reply
  33. Puck

    Ok, well then I encourage you to go call a black person a nigger, a homosexual a faggot and a Jew a Heeb…and see which one of them kicks your ass first.
    Shayna, you’re a numbnut…the rings were a joke about the Holocaust…it happened…true there wer

    Reply
  34. shayna19

    Well I wonder why, Heeb isn’t a very common insult, it’s only known as a magazine title, and why would a magazine have slur as it’s title?
    Obviously there were no Gingerbread Jews during the holocaust, but that is not the point of the photos. It doesn’t m

    Reply
  35. Puck

    Well, gee Bambi, they didn’t hand out rings at the Holocaust…but apparently that’s funny…despite it (presumably) also reminding you of something that is not funny.
    You keep contradicting yourself so much…I hardly need to be here.

    Reply
  36. boychik

    I just don’t understand why people don’t think it’s funny to ridicule the Nazis? Or do you think Hitler would be honored to be likened to a chubby housewife? I get that it’s a dark joke, but it’s a joke nonetheless.

    Reply
  37. Liz

    What’s wrong with appreciating bad taste? This is no different than Springtime for Hitler in “The Producers,” which was also deemed immoral in the press when it was released in 1968.

    Reply
  38. casper01

    Quoting Heep publisher Joshua Neuman discussing the complaints about Rosanne Bar: “When I hear such sorrowful pleas, I want to cry “. The only sorrowful aspect of this is you, Joshua Neuman for not having the common sense to know what Not make fun of.

    Reply
  39. leah

    I think you make a very good point about a cultural shift. Has enough time passed for it to be okay to start making Holocaust jokes? And are some Holocaust jokes okay, and some not okay? If Heeb and Roseanne crossed a line, what is that line?

    I tried

    Reply
  40. mrnhghts

    casper01 wrote,

    If I was ever going to read your magazine, I will never now.

    Shouldn’t you pretend that you were a regular reader like everyone else who is shocked and offended?

    Shit…looking at all the bruhaha online and the denunciations of

    Reply
  41. jaimzkatz

    Can anything original be added this far down the thread? I’m too lazy to read all the comments to find out, but has anyone pointed out “Many have been up (and) arms over our recent photo”? Please tell me that was a typo.

    Reply
  42. sammyg

    You’re a Nazi Jew! You should hang your head in shame. Yom Kippur will be here soon and the Lord our God is watching and listening. You don’t deserve to be a member of our tribe. Sinful!!

    Reply
  43. Puck

    Aah Sammy, I wonder what the Lord our G-d would think of you determining who deserves to be a member of our ‘tribe’ or not.
    Sinful indeed.
    One wondered how long it would take for some loser to drag out the “You’re a Nazi!” defence…given the subject ma

    Reply
  44. sunsmasher

    Joshua, if you actually believe that pyrotechnic sophistry that you wrote as a justification for this revolting, unfunny rubbish, then you are an Idiot. (Burnt Jew cookies?!!!!) Where is the humor?

    Reply
  45. Crayon

    if it’s offensive if said or done by someone who is not Jewish, how is it ok from someone who is Jewish. To be Jewish and anti-semetic is far worse, to spread this filth and condone it for all Jews is not something I expected to see in this day and age

    Reply
  46. Anonymous

    I can’t believe how lame the American Jewish community is. THis is NOTHING if it were to happen in Israel.

    Reply
  47. Anonymous

    But it’s a lot more close to home for Jews in AMerica. THink of all the people who died in Scarsdale.

    Reply
  48. Puck

    After re-reading my comments I think we can all at least agree on one thing: that I am both eloquent and witty…and ruggedly handsome.

    Reply
  49. Susan Conner

    When I saw this image and it’s blurb I laughed. Even though there is nothing funny about any murder of any innocent person, let alone 12 million, laughter is the ultimate healing elixir and obviously people like me who have born children from the survivors children and replenished the lines that the German and Polish and Russian government tried to eradicate, we have the right to laugh at them. How silly they all were with their black magic and ridiculous racism. They are laughable. We live in a world where anyone who can get a laptop and a signal has no color or race. Sucked in, Nazi’s. The children’s children of the few jews who lived win. We reseeded the planet with jewish children, and they all married non-jews, so go figure out who is and who isn’t, as if you really even cared. DNA testing is about to prove to you that you too carry Jewish blood. We are all family. We are all connected. When we laugh it is bittersweet, but we do have the right to laugh, to heal, and to move on, even if it means taking back the swastika. I say, take back every thing that the Nazi’s corrupted and make it beautiful again.

    Reply

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