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Good Bye, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, and Kisses to the Little Gentiles

A whopping 58% of Jews married between the years 2000 and 2013 have non-Jewish spouses. That's up from 17% in 1970.
the stewarts

I adore Jon Stewart, have been watching him on Comedy Central since his very first Daily Show episode, when he was replacing Craig Kilborn. At that very first show, Stewart signaled his plan to become an influential voice on latenight TV by announcing—in Killborn’s face—that he was getting rid of most of the show’s silly stuff, like the clever and absurd 5-questions posed to the guest, and the rest of the rubber chicken gimmicks that endeared the show to its scant followers, but also kept it small. The only remnant from the Killborn era today is the “Moment of Zen” at the end of the show.

I also recall the moment in time when Stewart transformed himself from a very funny and exceptionally well read host of a fake news show to a moral force in America. It was in October, 2004, when he destroyed CNN’s “Crossfire.”

Stewart came out with both guns blazing, and in half an hour turned “Crossfire” hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson from fairly respected political talking heads into cantankerous buffoons. I cheered him, along with most of America, because, hey, we all love to see blood spilling on national television, but also because those two represented—precisely as Stewart put it—a class of verbal gladiators entangled in a tiresome string of daily clashes for the sake of fighting, not for, say, discovering and exploring ideas.

Poor Carlson, who looked so white, so upper class, and so pythonesque in his humiliation (the bowtie, remember his bowtie?), said something like: “Aren’t you supposed to be funny?” which sounded exactly like something Abe Lincoln would have said to John Wilkes Booth if he had better writers.

CNN canceled “Crossfire” practically that afternoon (or so it seemed), and although Stewart did not actually manage to change the way our cable news networks debate politics, he killed two of the most offensive practitioners, and that’s something.

I’m well aware of Jon Stewart’s faults as a host. He tends to cater with the freckled open face of a schoolgirl to left-wing guests, and comes prepared and biting to his encounters with right-wingers. He sometimes makes me gag when he applies his puckered lips to the less glorified side of the high and mighty. He had Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf pushing his book on the show and pitched him so many softballs, it started to look like an evening with the NAGAAA. Needless to say, murdering Benazir Bhutto did not come up.

The most troubling influence Jon Stewart—born in New York City to Marian and Donald Leibowitz—is on the cultural landscape of American Jews.

Stewart is probably the most popular Jewish man in America today. He’s also one of the top 10 men of any ethnic background. He is unabashedly Jewish, to many of us he is the ideal American Jew: aware of his ethnic identity but careful not to let it dominate his career; respects Jewish tradition but not to the point where non-Jews become uncomfortable (unlike, say, The Jewish Press). He has religious and traditional Jews on his writing staff, he promotes countless Jewish-identified entertainers, he is openly and proudly pro-Israel (albeit from his distinct political point of view—which is his prerogative). I can’t imagine anyone suggesting that Jon Stewart is bad for Jews.

Jon Stewart is bad for Jews.

Because he is so very sane, reasonable, moderate, benign, respectable and cheerful about Jewish and Israeli issues, he presents a model to be emulated – and therein lies the badness.

I hate to write the next few paragraphs, because they’re about a person’s private life which he has not done much to expose. I wouldn’t have dreamed of digging behind those bushes if not for the new study that’s being discussed by every Jewish media outlet in north America: the Pew “Portrait of Jewish Americans,” which suggested with the same breath that there are almost 7 million Jews living in America, and that many of them, and certainly the offspring of the vast majority of them, can’t really be considered Jewish.

A whopping 58% of Jews married between the years 2000 and 2013 have non-Jewish spouses. That’s up from 17% in 1970.

Woody Allen as a rabbi in "Annie Hall," using his Jewish heritage for the comic effect while, in reality, having precious little to do with anything Jewish.

Woody Allen as a rabbi in “Annie Hall,” using his Jewish heritage for the comic effect while, in reality, having precious little to do with anything Jewish.

What happened between 1970 and 2013? Jon Stewart happened. Obviously, I don’t mean the person Jon Stewart, who was only 8 in 1970, and probably not a major influence yet on Jewish life in America. But the paradigm of the successful, charismatic Jew, who is unafraid to be identified as Jewish while not going crazy with the Jew thing – that paradigm was well in the making. Allan Stewart Konigsberg, aka Woody Allen, comes to mind. And, alas—inevitably—that paradigm also turned the previously shocking marrying of a gentile spouse more and more commonplace, until it is what the vast majority of Jews are doing.

That’s not marriage, that’s ethnic cleansing.

From Wikipedia:

In 2000, Stewart married Tracey Lynn McShane, his girlfriend of four years. The couple met on a blind date set up by a production assistant on Stewart’s film, Wishful Thinking. On June 19, 2001, Stewart and his wife filed a joint name change application and legally changed both of their surnames to “Stewart.” He proposed to his wife through a personalized crossword puzzle created with the help of Will Shortz, the crossword editor at The New York Times. The couple had their first child, a son named Nathan Thomas Stewart (after Stewart’s grandfather), in July 2004. Their second child, a daughter, Maggie Rose Stewart, was born in February 2006. They own a cat named Stanley and two pit bull terriers, Monkey and Shamsky (named after former Major League Baseball player Art Shamsky).

What can possibly be wrong with the above paragraph? From this Jewish person’s narrow, nationalistic point of view, what’s wrong there is that only one out of the three persons in the perfect American family being described is Jewish.

(Obviously, I apologize if Mrs. Stewart quietly went and converted to Judaism, just to make me eat my hat. But you understand I’m discussing her and her husband as paradigms.)

The Pew study breaks this tragedy into subject matters and numbers, but the crux of it is that the Stewarts and the Jewish nation are in the process of parting company. They, along with several million other Americans of Jewish descent, are disappearing into the gushing river of history, while the rest of us are left on our own once again, to continue the divine adventure begun in the mid 1200s BCE in Egypt.

Here’s a curious fact: the verse in the Torah describing the Israelites’ exit from their house of bondage in Egypt goes: “V’chamushim alu Bnei Israel m’eretz Mitzrayim,” which is translated straight-forwardly as “The Israelites went up out of Egypt equipped for battle.” But the classical commentator Rashi offers an alternative reading of the word “chamushim,” which can also mean one-fifth, meaning that four fifths of the Israelite slaves did not follow Moses’ instructions, did not grab a lamb, did not slaughter it, did not smear its blood on their door posts, and did not roast and eat it, and so they perished along with the Egyptians during the plague of Darkness.

Based on Rashi’s suggestion, as well as based on Jewish history, a loss of 58% of a Jewish community to the larger culture is an exceptionally optimistic outcome – it should have been 80%. Indeed, four fifths was the common rate of intermarriage and cultural merging for European Jewry before WW2 and again, today, 70 years after the war. Give it another 30 years and we’ll hit the historically proper 80% in north America as well.

So that, in the end, Jon Stewart is not to blame for America’s demographic holocaust (Too dramatic? Maybe go with “demographic catastrophe?” Demographic anguish?” Nah – I’m sticking with the H word). He merely represents its most highly focused arrowhead.

He is the schpitz  of assimilation, to use a Yiddish word, since peppering one’s speech with Yiddish is so adorably neuvo-Jew these days.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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39 Responses to “Good Bye, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, and Kisses to the Little Gentiles”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    Here's a lovely couple with two adorable little kids, and all Yori Yanover can think about is that the children are half-Jewish.

    Why do you have a problem with that, Yori? Haven't you said, right here in this newspaper suitable for lining birdcages, that Reform and Conservative Jews aren't really Jewish to begin with, so what's the big deal that Jon Stewart is "intermarried," because he's already a goy?

    Who knows? Maybe the little girl will grow up to be another Andrea Buchdahl.

  2. Dan Silagi says:

    Speaking of cantankerous buffoons, Yori…

  3. Justa Ju says:

    Maybe that’s why Ezra the Scribe made the Jews divorce their gentile wives when they came back to Jerusalem. To make sure they won’t disappear.

  4. Dan Silagi says:

    Speaking of cantankerous buffoons, Yori…

    Here's a lovely couple with two adorable little kids, and all Yanover can think about is that the children are half-Jewish. It's another Holocaust! Oy!

    Why do you have a problem with that, Yori? Haven't you said, right here in this newspaper suitable for lining birdcages, that Reform and Conservative Jews aren't really Jewish to begin with, so what's the big deal that Jon Stewart is "intermarried," because he's already a goy?

    Who knows? Maybe the little girl will grow up to be another Andrea Buchdahl.

  5. If you're going to disagree with someone's opinion at least do it with some class and try to refrain from making yourself look like an enraged and spiteful moron red in the face with anger

  6. Dan Reitman says:

    David Austin Sauer

    You know, the birdcage line may have been uncalled for, but methinks you doth protest too much; if I had to guess, I'd say you resent the underlying message much more than the messenger. The truth hurts?

    Here's my take: Just because the author professes his love for "Stew-Beef," it does not give him a free pass to then criticize JS' personal life – even the author's readily contrite acknowledgement of doing so doesn't make that approach any less gross or contemptible.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's religiously and culturally elitist dogma, just like what's presented in the above article, that pushes young people like me away from Judaism – or any religion, I would suspect.

    Finally, I wonder if occurs to the author that Jon "Bad Jew" Stewart may have done more good for the perception of Jews – even as an unwitting (or at least unwilling) representative – by just being his thoughtful, respectful, engaging, erudite, loveable, passionate, hilarious, and gernally awesome self, than any number of zealots, pundits, navel-gazers, and wall-wailers? No, my guess is it likely does not.

  7. Spiritual "holocaust"? Intermarriage?! Change the holocaustic roman era halacha that smite everyone not dropping from jewish vagina!!!! Even the latest DNA researcjes on the majority of Jewish nation denies validity of your back exit "Roman rape" made halacha! There is no more roman soldiers to rape and impregnate the jewish woman as well no need for that unreasonable halacha falselly ascribed to Moshe!!! It seems to me that those in halachic charge are responsible for the "spiritual holocaust"…

  8. Geoff Short says:

    According to this latest research 58,% of Jews are marrying out. But what exactly were they “in” that they married out of? How many of these people, I wonder, were Jewish in any meaningful sense? Whether you see the rate of inter-marriage as high or low depends entirely on how you define a Jew.

  9. Golum says:

    In matters of the heart it’s hard to have hard & fast rules….intermarriage is a tough subject……where I get riled is when the Christian side takes over and the kids leave Judaism behind! We have survived way beyond any other culture who started out with us (?) because we are a stubborn tribe….if you must intermarry at least hang on to as much Judaism a possible….and it wouldn’t hurt to lose the x-mas tree!!!Funny in trying to hide their Judaism how the Jewish Movie Moguls en masse divorced their Jewish wives and married W.A.S.P.S……….then continued to speak Yiddish among themselves and at Hillcrest kept the goyem out??????????Who were they fooling???….themselves????They enjoyed being Jewish but were afraid it wasn’t good for business…therefore the ultimate charade…The Goyish Pose!!!!

  10. sorry to say but you are soooo right!!!

  11. Justa Ju says:

    Geoff Short - That’s not really up to us, is it? We all have highs and lows in our spiritual paths. But when a Jew marries out — he or she deprive themselves in a clear and serious manner of the opportunity to come back.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The children are not "half-Jewish." They're 0% Jewish. That's the point of the story, Dan Silagi. Gevalt, indeed! EVERY Jewish neshama is important to K'lal Yisrael. Despite your "U of chicago" moniker, you're totally ignorant about what it's important in Judaism, namely Torah and what G-d said for the Jewish People to do…and what we agreed to do for all time at Sinai.

  13. Anonymous says:

    p.s. Whether one is a Jew or not is not determined by one's level of observance but, rather, who one's mother is and/or– if the person is a convert to Judaism– whether or not the person had a Halachic conversion (meaning according to Jewish Law). So therefore a Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Traditional, Yeshivish, Chassidic, Haredi, or even a totally non-practicing, totally unaffiliated Jew, or even someone who calls himself an "atheist," is a Jew if his/her mother is Halachically Jewish. Not only that, someone who is Halachically Jewish who "converts" to another religion is still a Jew. If you have (or obtained through proper conversion) a Jewish neshama, you always have a Jewish neshama, in this lifetime and all lifetimes: past, present, and future!

  14. Boy does this get old. First, Stewart is a clown. He maybe a literate, intelligent clown but he is a clown none the less. He gets paid to make you laugh. Since when did Judaism depend on Tummler’s for their role models and heroes? Did the Jewish world really turn over when George Burns or Irving Berlin married non-Jews? Second, as to who is a Jew? If you look at the Bible, being Jewish was passed down on the father’s side. If the matrilineal mode were truly the way that the Jewish line is passed from generation to generation then the House of David ceased being Jewish somewhere around 850 BCE when Ahaziah, the son of Athaliah, the Baal worshipping daughter of Jezebel took the throne! Third, for some of us, being Jewish is more than biology. It is what you do with your life. Seriously, do you count the former Senator from Virginia whose mother was Jewish (a fact he did know) who was raised a Christian as Jew? Finally, the House of Israel has a lot more to worry about than who marries whom. I would think that you consider it more of threat when we find the flagship Orthodox university engaged in a major cover-up of sexual impropriety or Jewish men failing to follow the admonition in Perke Avot about having a job and being professional schnoors under the pre-text of being “students.” The John Stewart bit is an easy cheap shot. The real problems facing the Jewish people require introspection and looking at the behavior of some of those that are closer to your home.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The intermarriage is not so bad, bad is that the jewish religion has to change and reform, for example has to begin making proselytizing, many christians ask me how they can be jewish, I send allways to speack to a rabi, the answer was if this christian has jewish relatives, is the only stuborm religion that has not proselytizing, why?, look the envalegists, mormons, even bahai, what is the problem?, the people converted to other religion are more religous from the forfathers religion, it is interesting, but is truth.

  16. Geoff Short says:

    Justa Ju Geoff Short Those who wish to come back will doubtless find a way to do so. My point is that the vast majority of those who marry out do not want to come back because they were never in something that is worth coming back to.

  17. So what's new? Why do Russian Jews look light haired and blue-eyed often as do Polish Jews and English Jews… On the other hand Moroccan Jews are hard to distinguish from the muslim-Arabs there just as Indian Jews blend in perfectly with the others in that country. What a contrived kerfluffle….

  18. Dan Silagi says:

    It was Yanover who wrote the mean-spirited article, not me. It is Yanover who implied that intermarried Jews, of which I am one, are responsible for the "demographic holocaust" (his term not mine).

    So if you want to call someone an "enraged and spiteful moron" you need to look further east than New Jersey, where I reside.

  19. Rina Gray says:

    Jon Stewart is a spitiful greedy and disgraceful person. Just because he was born in Jewish family, doesn't made him a Jew. He is typical self-hating Jew. I can bet with some exaption most American Jews are lost to Jews forever. They are too greedy, self-centered, self hating lefties retards. They most of all didn't live in real life, but in the world they create in their sick mind. This disgracefull man lost his marbles, cassing from national TV, like some drug thug. Good readance to jews like that. We are Israely didn't need this kind of people. They are not good for Israel. Let them all rot in Hell, which is USA became. They are more cared about their stupid rights, than about their country or other people.

  20. David Blatt says:

    Like this should surprise anyone

  21. Please go learn the privileged of being born a Jew is passed down from the MOTHER.

  22. Jerry Blaz says:

    What a mealy-mouth excuse for not researching a person's life to find out if his wife converted or not. Then, maybe you would have examined the tzitzit of the converting rabbinical court. Who knows? John Stuart is your object of a "put-down" because his is a paradigm? Shame, shame.

  23. Dan Silagi says:

    So you have taken it upon yourself to be the arbiter of who and who isn't Jewish, Rina?

    Others have traveled that road. "Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich." — Hermann Goering, who should have stuck to being a fighter pilot until he became too fat to seat in the pilot's seat.

  24. Yeremiahu Rueben Yonteff says:

    Its fair to go after stuart he is a public figure. But he really isnt the problem, the problem is the countless people in all of our lives who we might have influenced rather than turned a blind eye. So, those in your lives today not leading a full and jewish life who haven't gone so far as stewart that they cannot be brought back, reach out and DO SOMETHING. We are all responsible for one another, do not stand idly by the blood of your brother be it physical OR spiritual.

  25. Yeremiahu Rueben Yonteff says:

    Its fair to go after stuart he is a public figure. But he really isnt the problem, the problem is the countless people in all of our lives who we might have influenced rather than turned a blind eye. So, those in your lives today not leading a full and jewish life who haven't gone so far as stewart that they cannot be brought back, reach out and DO SOMETHING. We are all responsible for one another, do not stand idly by the blood of your brother be it physical OR spiritual.

  26. Yeremiahu Rueben Yonteff says:

    so Ishmael was jewish? i guess you just solved the Israel-Palestine debate…

  27. Yeremiahu Rueben Yonteff says:

    This halacha is not "ascribed to moshe" it is taken directly from the torah. So maybe you should try another argument. There are two prohibitions of intermarriage in the torah, one to jewish women and one to men. The prohibition to women states "do not take…. for they shall teach your children to follow other g-ds" In other other words goyim will teach jewish children to become idolators. Here no punishment other than this is offered, presumably most of would think having idol worshipping offspring would be bad enough. The prohibition of jewish men intermarrying makes no mention of the resulting offspring (because they are not jewish) and carries with it the devastating punishment of kares since the man failing to have jewish children has destroyed his own lineage.

  28. Dan Silagi says:

    I'm not ignorant at all. I just reject holier-than-thou Toy-reh tHUMPERS like you.

  29. Might be… I'm not opposing Torah, chas v'shalom! Only think loud… Id it realy so? Does ben adam decides on the matters of incarnating the souls?! Can we be 1000% sure that HaShem sometimes doesnt decide things going beyond our comprehesion

  30. Yair Ben-Zvi says:

    Rina,you're a waste of life that shames Israel with your continued existence. Ahavat yisrael clearly means us much to you as it did to Goering, good company for a Jew to be in. Stop sublimating your massive inferiority complexes for your own wasted existence on Jews you've never met. You're beneath pathetic, and so is Yori Yanover for writing garbage like this.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Jon Stewart is Pro Israel? I have almost never heard him say anything positive about Israel, instead he goes over to Egypt trying to suck up to the Arabs, and he has Roger Waters as a guest on his show who is the #1 enemy to the Jews and the Israelis in the world

  32. Anonymous says:

    Jon Stewart is Pro Israel? I have almost never heard him say anything positive about Israel, instead he goes over to Egypt trying to suck up to the Arabs, and he has Roger Waters as a guest on his show who is the #1 enemy to the Jews and the Israelis in the world

  33. mydogpeter says:

    From the time we were little kids, my Mother would scold us if we were bad, but always ended with:  “Never mind, just marry a Jewish girl”.  I wouldn’t have dreamed of walking into the house with a non-Jewish potential mate.
    My brother married once; I’ve married three times..  My brother  fathered two gorgeous JEWISH GIRLS, My two sons are ,menchen in the worlds of law and architecture, my grandchildren are beautiful (of course!!), intelligent (of course!) and knowledgeable, practicing Jews (thank you, G-d!)  
    As it says in one of the songs in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”:  “you have to taught when you’re six or seven or eight…”

  34. mydogpeter says:

    If the Jews have to depend on a two-bit comic(?) like Jon Stewart for the continuation of their history, then we Jews are truly badly up against it.  Fortunately, Jews of all stripes, nations, races, politics, etc, have been around for several millennia, and show no signs of disappearing from the world stage.
    (Q.)   Who needs John Stewart? 
    (A)   Who is John Stewart that anyone should even ask?
    He will be remembered – by his family, friends, and those to whom he owes money, as a “nice Juish boy.”..
    And five minutes after he passes from the scene, someone will ask the question in all innocence:  WHO IS OR WAS JOHN STEWART? 
    Ah, fame!…how fleeting!
    Sooo…whut’s f’r dinner t’night?

  35. Golum says:

    mydogpeter …Sooooo what’s your problen with Jon???…you got “Shiksa Envy”????

  36. andyacademia says:

    “It’s easier to get the Jews out of Egypt than to get out Egypt from the Jews”
    Forty years ago there were 400,000 Jews in
    Argentina. Today they are less than 200,000. If I’m not mistaken, at the
    beginning of the XX century there were around 13 million Jews in America. Today
    there are less than 6 million. We should say thanks that at least Jon Stewart
    defends Israel (a little) and is proud of his Jewish heritage, unlike some popular
    Jews in Argentina.
    Probably there won’t be Jews in the Diaspora
    by the next century (except for Orthodox Jews)… and who cares? The important
    thing is that the Jewish population in Israel is constantly increasing (and
    making itself more religious), because they assimilate to a Jewish environment where they are a majority,
    instead of a Gentile environment. There will be Jews only in Israel, the Jewish
    nation and our original land, and I couldn’t be happier. I wish most of
    American Jews would make Aliyah, that would be great. It wouldn’t be awesome if
    Jon Stewart has his own show in Israel?? (better than Latma).
    Last one out turn off the
    lights. Israel is our national home, not America.

  37. Stewart Schwartz says:

    poor Dan.

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