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Who Stays on the Bus? The ‘Good Bye, Jon Stewart’ Debate

Do you know how many thumbs down Ezra the Scribe received when he announced, back in the 500s BCE?

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They are a brilliant billboard ad in favor of intermarriage. They're sane and attractive trailblazers in a new America in which Jew and gentile can live together in harmony.

They are a brilliant billboard ad in favor of intermarriage. They're sane and attractive trailblazers in a new America in which Jew and gentile can live together in harmony.

Friday is a little less crazy here, at The Jewish Press online, which gives me the free time I need to respond to some of the astute, biting, angry and reasonable reader responses. If I didn’t get to your response, I apologize, feel free to blast me in the comment section right below.

The article that got some reaction this week was Good Bye, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, and Kisses to the Little Gentiles, It followed the Pew report that has been at center stage the whole week, because of the complex light it threw on the Jews on north America. I chose to use Jon Stewart, an identified Jew who is nevertheless married to a Catholic woman, as the perfect example for my views on the matter.

Jerry Blaz, who works at Wal-Mart Supercenter, was very critical of one, largely technical aspect:

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.

Jerry referred to my line: “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.”

I entered that line with the apology just in case, because last time I discussed this, it turned out the nice Reform cantor in question had been converted in secret.

Attention, Jerry Blaz from Wal-Mart: I did research it. There is one statement from Stewart on the subject of his and his spouse’s religious tradition (on the David Letterman Show, Feb. 16, 2012): She was raised Catholic, I was raised Jewish. We’re raising [the children] to be sad.

I disagree that my article was an attempt to “put down” Stewart. It used him, for sure, and made his private life public – but that’s par for the course. I didn’t say anything the least bit disparaging. If anything, my strongest emotion, possibly taking after Stewart’s children, was sadness.

Rina Gray from Haifa, Israel, agrees with me, but I’m not sure I agree with her:

Jon Stewart is a spiteful, 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 exceptions, most American Jews are lost to Jews forever. They are too greedy, self-centered, self hating lefty retards. They most of all didn’t live in real life, but in the world they create in their sick mind. This disgraceful man lost his marbles, cussing from national TV, like some drug thug. Good riddance to Jews like that. We Israelis don’t need this kind of people. They are not good for Israel. Let them all rot in Hell, which is what USA has become. They cared more about their stupid rights, than about their country or other people.

Our resident assimilated Jew Dan Silagi was right on her:

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 (I decide who is a Jew)” – Hermann Goering, who should have stuck to being a fighter pilot until he became too fat to seat in the pilot’s seat.

Really, Dan? Fat jokes? When there are so many good, useful Nazi comparisons available?

Well, I say, Rina – you lose the graceful and charming reader of the week award by a wide berth (that’s not Bertha, Dan).

Dan, you lost, as you do most every week, the “first one to mention the Holocaust is out” rule for Internet discussions. Like Jerry Blaz says: Shame, shame!

On a more original note, Frankel process tech (signed in using yahoo) suggested:

The intermarriage is not so bad, bad is that the Jewish religion has to change and reform. For example, it has to begin proselytizing. Many Christians ask me how they can be Jewish. I send always to speak to a rabbi, whose answer was to inquire if this Christian has Jewish relatives. This is the only stubborn religion that has not proselytizing, why? Look the Evangelicals, Mormons, even the Bahá’í, what is the problem? The people who converted to another religion are more religious at it than they were at their forefather’s religion. It is interesting, and true.

Well, Frankel, I’ve always found the fact that we keep our faith to ourselves and not try to impose it quite endearing and special. Indeed, I find even attempts by various Jewish groups to proselytize fellow Jews a bit vulgar. Indeed, the fact that it’s so hard to be Jewish, with a stunning 80 percent dropout rate, is reassuring when it comes to evaluating the commitment level of any convert who has made it through the rigorous barricades our sages have put up. I couldn’t disagree with you more.

Dan Silagi, U of Chicago, before the shameful Hermann Goering note, entered a pretty funny comment, which is so rife with Jewish Press online insider humor, it’s heartening to read, even though I’m the brunt of it:

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. Gevalt! 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 Angela Buchdahl.

Uunlisted (signed in using AOL – seriously, AOL, so you KNOW they’re Jewish), responded before I had the chance:

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’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.

Thank you, Uunlisted, I basically agree with you.

Dan, throughout the article, I took great pains to say that it was the very loveliness—no quotes implied—of the Stewart family which makes it so bad for Jews. They are a brilliant billboard ad in favor of intermarriage. They’re sane and attractive trailblazers in a new America in which Jew and gentile can live together in harmony. All the Jews should follow their example, and those who don’t are just cantankerous blabbermouths whose work only befits lining birdcages.

Do you know how many thumbs down Ezra the Scribe received when he announced, back in the 500s BCE, that to return to the grace of the Lord, all the newcomers from Babylon had to divorce their gentile wives? You think it was easy? You think Ezra didn’t look like a total so and so, breaking up such loving couples – and the children, think of the children!

I’m not saying Jon Stewart or you, Dan Silagi, must divorce your gentile wives. I like both of you and I wish you only the best lives, with health and wealth and happiness all around – again, no quotes implied whatsoever.

But, at the same time, we’re saying good bye. You now belong to a different tribe. We can be civil and nice and even sweet about it – but we’re not headed in the same direction. There’s no room on our bus for you with your gentile family.

And, let me tell you, I feel our bus goes to all the coolest places…

Yori Yanover

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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