Question for the reader: Which well-known Jewish figure is the author of the following recently-penned lines?
[T]here is no reason for a famous person who just happens to be Jewish to command special respect, particularly if that person is not a practicing Jew.
Sadly, many of today’s Jewish stars are not committed Jews. The book Stars of David, a collection of interviews by Abigail Pogrebin, highlights sixty-two “Jewish celebrities,” many of whom have only incidental connections to Jewish life and tradition. Author Nora Ephron expresses mostly contempt for Judaism and for Israel; she takes delight in the fact that her two sons chose not to become b’nai mitzvah. While most of the other “stars” do express some pride in being Jewish, it amounts to little more than ethnic nostalgia. Sarah Jessica Parker, for example, has some interest in Judaism but also finds Unitarianism attractive and provides a Christmas tree for her child. Gene Wilder “feels” Jewish and remembers suffering from anti-Semitism but sees no merit in Judaism as a religion. Natalie Portman finds little evidence of Jewish teen involvement in social justice; the value young Jews are taught, she suggests, is the importance of getting a nice car for their sixteenth birthday. And Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a noted champion of Jewish and minority rights who credits Judaism for stirring her passion for justice, did not insist that her children continue their Jewish education and was angry when no rabbi would assure her daughter that a baptized child would still be considered Jewish.
It is appalling how little these celebrities know of the Judaism that they discredit and discard. If they were to reject Judaism after serious learning, so be it; but to reject it out of ignorance and laziness is simply disgraceful. There are, to be sure, some serious Jews in this group. . . . who demonstrate that fame is not inconsistent with living a committed Jewish life. I suggest, then, that we save our admiration for them, and for all others—famous or not—who live their daily lives devoted to Jewish learning and to the transmission of our precious heritage from one generation to the next.
The identity of the writer is sure to surprise. It’s also simultaneously heartening and saddening (on which, more in the next post.)
Oh, and don’t be thrown off by the obvious tone of dismissiveness and judgmentalism: — e.g., use of words like “appalling” and “disgraceful” and accusations of “ignorance and laziness” regarding Jews who have simply chosen to live their Jewish lives (and read G-d’s love letter to the Jewish people) differently from the writer — the mystery writer is not, in fact, Orthodox.
Anyone? (Honest guesses, now, not Googling.)