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A Jewish Joker: From The Catskills To Gotham City


The Joker’s humor is that of a twisted, embittered individual. Luckily, we real-life mortals are more likely to use humor to help overcome our misfortunes and maybe even make the world a better place. Humor has always been the way Jews have dealt with hardship and looming terror, going back to the book of Proverbs (“A joyful heart is good medicine, a broken spirit dries the bones”).

Humor as a coping mechanism has aided Jews throughout the ages; Emil Fackenheim, a noted philosopher and survivor of Auschwitz, observed, “We kept our morale through humor.”

Heath Ledger’s tragic death may well cast a pall over the film and prevent audiences from embracing the charismatic villain in greasepaint this time around. While the Joker’s gift for the memorable one-liner is enviable, one wishes – as with all comic-book bad guys – that he’d use that power for good instead of evil.

About the Author: Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, an internationally known best-selling author whose first book, "Up, Up and Oy Vey!" received the Benjamin Franklin Award, has been profiled in leading publications including The New York Times, The Miami Herald and The London Guardian. He was recently voted New York’s Hippest Rabbi by PBS Channel 13. He chairs the Religious Affairs Committee at Pratt Institute. His forthcoming book is “The Case for Children: Why Parenthood Makes Your World Better.”


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