Sarah Silverman – Unfit Mother? Unfit Jew? Just ask her Dad.

Sarah Silverman is many things: a comic,  an actress, and a political activist, to name a few. But, according to a recent op-ed in The Jewish Press, Silverman shouldn’t be commended for what she’s accomplished, so much as admonished for what she hasn’t: Gotten married and had kids. At least, so says Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt. Rosenblatt, who has perfected the art of admonishing celebrities (here and here) sees Sarah’s career as the flawed result of her misguided decision to refrain from motherhood.

Scratching your head? Here are a few observations from Rabbi Rosenblatt:

You are in show biz. I am in the rabbi biz. You entertain people. I serve people. I believe I have your number. You will soon turn 42 and your destiny, as you stated, will not include children. You blame it on your depression, saying you don’t want to pass it on to another generation.

That medical reason for not wanting kids? Bullshit!

You said you wouldn’t get married until gay people can. Now they can.

Well, he’s 9/50ths right.

You have made a career making public that which is private, making crude that which is intimate, making sensual that which is spiritual. You have experienced what traditional Judaism taught long ago: when you make sex a public thing it loses its potency…that is why you have had trouble forging a permanent relationship – the most basic desire of the feminine soul.

Watch out ladies! He knows your soul! 

…for you, nothing is holy; in your world, nothing is permanent. Your ideology is secular. Your culture may be Jewish, but your mind is not.

I think you have latched on to politics because you are searching for something to build. There is only so much pulling down one can do without feeling utterly destructive. You want to fight for a value so you take your belief – secularism – and promote it. As an Orthodox rabbi, I disagree with just about everything you say, but respect your right to say it. All I ask, respectfully, is that you not use traditional Jewish terminology in your efforts. Because doing so is a lie. (EMPHASIS MINE)

TRANSLATION: “I disagree. Therefor, you’re not Jewish.”

And finally, the kicker:

Nothing you say or stand for, Sarah, from your sickening sexual proposal to a Republican donor to your equally vulgar tweet to Mitt Romney, has the slightest thing to do with the most basic of tenets which Judaism has taught the world – that the monogamous relationship is the most meaningful one and that a happy marriage is the key to wholesomeness.

Got that, folks? All of Sarah’s comedy, political activism, and overall success is totally antithetical to Judaism, and will continue to be until she gets married and pops out a few kids. It’s an absolutism of authenticity  in which orthodoxy is the sole model of a Jewish life. Any deviation, and you’re automatically in stark contrast to, what is in effect, Zero-Sum Judaism.

But wait! Just when we’d lost all hope, a ray of reasonable light comes bursting through the cloud of stink wafting off this ridiculous load of garbage. Who’s that with the very first entry in the comments section? Why, it’s none other than Donald Silverman, Sarah’s dad, who starts his reply with “Hey Rabbi Idiot”. Evidently, in the Silverman family, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We won’t spoil the fun, but the whole op-ed – and the ensuing comment section – is worth a look.

What do you think?

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Heeb's Managing Editor knows more about Iggy Pop than you. You can follow him on twitter (@Thejewishdream) if you'd like.

13 Responses

  1. Linden

    I think it is great that you have at least published the Rabbi’s view, and the Rabbi even stated that he respected her right to say it. He just layed out in very plain english why he believes she isn’t “Jewish”. The thing that I think is wonderful is that he didn’t yell or call her any names and he didn’t call for all Jewish people to kill her and her family, like some of the more fanatical religions do.

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  2. Jeff

    Jesus, what a fucking loser. I left a comment thanking him for validating my continuing assertion that Orthodoxy has nothing of value to contribute to humanity.

    This rabbi is in Houston. It’s a good place for him; I’m sure he feels right at home among the Christian fundies, neo-cons and gun-toting bubbas. They all believe the universe is 6,000 years old.

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  3. Andrew Benjamin

    Mostly the rabbi is correct in his observations about a woman who is making oodles of money with her criticism of her own religion, her own background, her acceptance of deviance and improper use of language, on her insulting tradition and traditionalism, and we all know, what some of her fans deny, on her personal failure to be what most women want to be. Moms. Which she is not and is not likely to be unless she adopted a poodle.

    That’s just the way it is, even if you’re a proto-lesbian and love the effete BETA guy in the White House because he’s non-threatening as a man (as opposed to a gay man.) To anyone even remotely knowledgeable about psychology, it so happens because she’s a public persona, all is on the table, in the vernacular laying naked in open sight.

    Silverman is a post-Jewish woman whose love-affair with the most anti-Israel president in history is only harming her people BIG TIME.

    She has the mentality of a 19 year-old brat who is, by virtue of comedic talents (arguable), she knows all about history, civics, politics which, without historical context is meaningless, and everything. Here’s a 19 year-old mentality who is advising her grandparents for whom to vote. If you don’t see the irony is this comedy, you too are beyond help.

    Those of you reading this, consider: Who is better suited and equipped to make decisions about Israel’s future, destiny, enemies, friends, and security: American Jews or Israeli Jews?

    If you had answered this question correctly, you’d see the obvious.
    Israel’s Jews reject Obama’s Israel policy by over 90% today.

    Clear enough?

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  4. Mike Shapiro

    What do I think? That’s easy, I think that the one who is not in line with normative Judaism and should be taken to task is…Rabbi Rosenblatt.

    Sarah Silverman has made a series of decisions that indicate that she has actually thought about Judaism, what it means, and how to best follow what she sees as valid purposes in life.

    Rabbi Rosenblatt seems to have simply taken the vile and anti-Jewish path of Loshon Hora.

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  5. David

    The Heeb editor’s analysis is shallow. The Rabbi did not say she was not Jewish or a Jew. It’s about values, both secular and religious, ethical and moral. That’s the issue. Sarah does what she does as an expression of her secular, ethical values. She casts it, sometimes, in humorous Jewish speak. The Rabbi merely challenged her to embrace Judiasm as an expression of religious and moral values where peace on one’s heart is achieved through monogamy and the creation of children within a family unit.

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  6. Jeff

    I just read Rosenblatt’s letter to Matisyahu, linked to in the article above.

    If this guy’s tongue were clucking any harder, I think he’d sprain it.

    @Andrew Benjamin:

    “on her personal failure to be what most women want to be. Moms”

    Uh huh.

    “someone has the mentality of a 19 year-old”

    Yeah – someone has the mentality of a 19 year-old.

    Reply
  7. Andy

    I think she is a nice girl and should get married and get a career. Her main problem is her ambition to be a comedian and she doesn’t have it. She is not funny. I don’t know about Rabbis and Priests and Mullahs. They are nice people so long they don’t make from nobody a holdup.

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  8. Raphael

    Well, it’s obvious many of the above commentators didn’t actually read the op-ed.

    What this is really about — much more so than Sarah Silverman herself, whose politics are generally good, even if a bit shrill and Liberal in that pejorative way that we Socialists use when talking about well-meaning people who just don’t understand narratives of capitalist hegemony — is the complex encounter of self-identified Orthodox Jews with modernity. This dialectic is now about a couple of hundred years old (recall that “Orthodox” Judaism itself developed as a reactionary response to what many viewed as excessive secularism and assimilation by members of the Reform movement) and what is happening in Judaism currently is very similar to what is happening in Christianity and Islam: as the acceleration of communications technology, scientific discovery and innovation, and Western-style capitalist consumerism all make further inroads into traditional communities and alter their way of life, some of the members of those communities, such as this person Rosenblatt, respond in ways that are predictably reactionary and purport to defend a way of life they (he) see as being under threat.

    All cultures change over time; traditional or “Orthodox” cultures just tend to change much more slowly. The conflict I describe above cannot be resolved through hostility or criticism, as that only emboldens the reactionaries by giving credence to their belief that they are under attack. Only through constructive, meaningful dialogue are we able to gradually pry up their eyelids and show them that the world outside their shtetl is not to be feared.

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  9. Oz

    There are a lot of really, really good reasons to not like Sarah Silverman, I like to think a handful of them are why I’m not particularly fond of her and her whole act. That said, we’ve reached a point as a culture within a larger society, as has always been our place in this era, that we cannot afford to hold with such rigidity to the idea that individuals have a small place they cannot leave without being accused of no longer being Jews.

    The danger of that, I feel, is a death from irony. If, for the sake of saving it, a “Jewish life” is made something so rigid, so structured, so nigh-impossible to live in a modern world without completely cloistering yourself from that modern world, then I can only imagine a flight from all Jewish life. I agree with many Orthodox Jews who think the Progressive movement sometimes goes too far, is sometimes a little too loose, and I say that while practising Reform.

    Yet, if the spectrum of Jewish life is too broad, then what we lose, if we lose anything, will only be lost around the edges, the finest details of our heritage might be tarnished, but that can be reclaimed. If the spectrum is made too narrow, too hostile to anything that dares to feel remotely foreign, then we risk losing everything. I would hope these most aggressive and most staunch of rabbis could perhaps see the worst-case scenario that could from people listening to them.

    Reply

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