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

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…

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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13 Responses to “Who Stays on the Bus? The ‘Good Bye, Jon Stewart’ Debate”

  1. Rina Gray says:

    Sorry, hon, I can't and don't want to sugar coat my opinion, like many of you do. "Well, I say, Rina – you lose the graceful and charming reader of the week award by a wide berth. " I will shaer this berth with you, and I don't need any awards for simply stating my opinion. If you don't like it, it's your problem, not mine. You just didn't like, when people telling you a truth, and sometimes, hear the truth is hard. American Jews long time ago left their Jewishness for greed and privilages. The thing, that many of them participated in all Anti-Jewish BDS alike activist movement, proving my words. It's not just because they marry not Jews. It's not that impotent to me. I was born in USSR, where interacial or international marriages was pretty normal thing. But the way they act, live, what they do, tells allot. The way they voted Muslim in White House twice, speaking louder, than anything. They remind me collaborators in Nazis era, who thought big money and doing everything for Nazi, whould save their life. The thing, that most mentally unstable people in USA and on the net thinking, that most Jews are millionaires and own the world, just show, how stupid they are. Jewish in USA didn't care about Israel, because Israel show them, that Jewish people can be proud of their Jewish herritage and simply be Jews without $$ millions, and can fight for what they think is right. Their survival. American Jews have no idea how we Israel Jews live, but they think, they have right to judge us, to tell us how we need to live and sometimes didn't give a damn if we will be alive or not. That's why I think American Jews are lost for us, because that people live in a different mentality and different land. They have no respect to people and Jon Stewart is represented everything bad and disgracfull, which can be in Jewish people. For money he would probably made fun of his own mother on TV, just to get paid. This man is very angry clown, who express his hatread on TV. He think he is funny, but he is not. Person, who think to cass someone on National TV, because they are Republicans is funny, have very low opinion about people, who watch him. It's okay for the people with very low IQ, which is prime fans of Stewars show.

  2. Dan Silagi says:

    Let me add an additional argument for assimilation, similar to the Jon Stewart saga: Years ago, there was a tall fellow who started a publishing company with a shorter guy who looked like Jeff next to Mutt, even though in this case "Jeff" was about six feet tall, my height, so he was "short" only in comparison to "Mutt," who could have been a small forward for the Knicks except that he had other talents, and in those days, pro basketball didn't pay all that well. In 1934, he married a lovely Catholic woman–in, of all places, an Episcopal church.

    The issue from that marriage between two talented musicians –he, a pianist, she, a singer–produced three beautiful and talented girls, the youngest of whom I had the pleasure of knowing when I was a kid.

    Whether or not you'd consider them Jewish or not is immaterial and irrelevant. Just as it is with Angela Buchdahl.

  3. Dan Silagi says:

    Let me add an additional argument for assimilation, similar to the Jon Stewart saga: Years ago, there was a tall fellow who started a publishing company with a shorter guy who looked like Jeff next to Mutt, even though in this case "Jeff" was about six feet tall, my height, so he was "short" only in comparison to "Mutt," who could have been a small forward for the Knicks except that he had other talents, and in those days, pro basketball didn't pay all that well. In 1934, he married a lovely Catholic woman–in, of all places, an Episcopal church.

    The issue from that marriage between two talented musicians –he, a pianist, she, a singer–produced three beautiful and talented girls, the youngest of whom I had the pleasure of knowing when I was a kid.

    Whether or not you'd consider them Jewish or not is immaterial and irrelevant. Just as it is with Angela Buchdahl.

  4. Dan Silagi says:

    Let me add an additional argument for assimilation, somewhat similar to the Jon Stewart saga: Years ago, there was a tall fellow who started a publishing company with a shorter partner who looked like Jeff next to Mutt, even though in this case "Jeff" was about six feet tall, my height, so he was "short" only in comparison to "Mutt," who could have been a small forward for the Knicks except that he had greater talents. Moreover, pro basketball didn't pay all that well back then. In 1934, he married a lovely Catholic woman–in, of all places, an Episcopal church.

    The issue from that marriage between two talented musicians –he, a pianist, she, a singer–produced three beautiful and talented girls, the youngest – one of the finest singer-songwriters alive today– who I had the honor of knowing when I was a kid.

    Whether or not you'd consider them Jewish or not is immaterial and irrelevant. Just as it is with Angela Buchdahl.
    By the way, that youngest sister wrote and recorded a song which was a classic putdown of one who’s arrogant and full of himself. Forty years after that song was a No. 1 hit, people still argue over who it was about. One hint was later given: There’s an “a,” and “e,” and an “r” in that person’s name. I always believed the guy who flew his Lear Jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun was Mick Jagger (not Jewish) but I realize now, Yori, there are other candidates.

    Good Shabbos, Yori, and may your horse always naturally win.

  5. Dan Silagi says:

    You might have left Soviet Union, but Soviet Union hasn't left you.

  6. Dan Silagi says:

    Let me add an additional argument for assimilation, somewhat similar to the Jon Stewart saga: Years ago, there was a tall fellow who started a publishing company with a shorter partner who looked like Jeff next to Mutt, even though in this case "Jeff" was about six feet tall, my height, so he was "short" only in comparison to "Mutt," who could have been a small forward for the Knicks except that he had greater talents. Moreover, pro basketball didn't pay all that well back then. In 1934, he married a lovely Catholic woman–in, of all places, an Episcopal church.

    The issue from that marriage between two talented musicians –he, a pianist, she, a singer–produced three beautiful and talented girls, the youngest – one of the finest singer-songwriters alive today– who I had the honor of knowing when I was a kid.

    Whether or not you'd consider them Jewish or not is immaterial and irrelevant. Just as it is with Angela Buchdahl.

    By the way, that youngest sister wrote and recorded a song which was a classic putdown of one who’s arrogant and full of himself. Forty years after that song was a No. 1 hit, people still argue over who it was about. One hint was later given: There’s an “a,” and “e,” and an “r” in that person’s name. I always believed the guy who flew his Lear Jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun was Mick Jagger (not Jewish) but I realize now, Yori, there are other candidates besides Jagger and Warren Beatty.

    Good Shabbos, Yori, and may your horse always naturally win.

  7. Yori Yanover. I find it strange that you find "even attempts by various Jewish groups to proselytize fellow Jews a bit vulgar" (how can you "proselytize" people who are already part of your religion?) I think you are referring to those "Jewish groups" who are trying to bring distant Jews closer to their own religion – which I would have thought you would be FOR – in order to keep fellow Jews on "the bus"!

  8. Anonymous says:

    In my comment I didn't mention that impousing proselytizing, the idea is voluntarely, I think that we are all jews and christians intermaried, that is why the most christians are judeo-christians, Moses when he crossed the Red Sea the Sinai there were 2MM, where are they?, they get intermariage with the christians, so we are now together 1.6 billions, is not to believe that we have dissapeared after almost 5.5 Mileniums billions of jews, the most interesting is happening today, not so much muslims converting in judaism, interesting, I am in favor for intermarriage and proselytizing.

  9. I was married for almost 20 years to a Jewish man, before his recent death. He was raised Jewish, adopted at birth, told his mother was Jewish (recent events make even this debatable!)-but he always was in his own mind, "a Jew" – period! We had no children between us-first wife supposedly converted but that, as is too often the case, didn't "take." Since I hold stubbornly and unaquivocally to certain beliefs, I would find it difficult, if not impossible to convert, perhaps Mrs. Stewart's delimma (who knows?). Judiasm, is, however, the real "stuff," an undiluted shot of the only one, true G-d, a belief Christians (and Muslims) share. For that, I am more than a bit jealous-and wish Christians shared at least more of the respect I do see in faithful Jews toward those of other beliefs…!

  10. Cheri Fistel says:

    Give the children of intermarriage a generation and they will look for their roots. And, given the atmosphere of animosity against Jews, if someone does not "come-out" themselves, someone will pull him out of the closet. It's best to first become the kind of person anyone would want to claim.

  11. regarding Frankel (article) suggesting Jewish proselytizing:

    The Jewish faith does not require a non-Jew to convert to "get to heaven".
    This seems to cause many people of other religions to think that Jews do not welcome them.
    The Jewish faith holds that G-d gave the non-Jew 7 laws (to the children of Noah), and He gave 613 to the Jews.
    (However, Not every Jew can fulfill all 613. Some can only be done by a Cohen, some only by a Levi, some only by Jewish women, some only by Jewish men. Everyone has a job to do, according to Judaism, even the non-Jew.

    The problem is that, if you believe in G-d, and you convert someone, and that convert eventually goes back to their former religion, you have caused that person to sin.
    Worse, it may call into question (in the heavenly court) the original conversion, and may cause the convert to lose their place in heaven.
    So, it is not optimal to convert everyone who says "make me a Jew".

  12. Dan Silagi says:

    I'd like to see some respect from the orthodox towards Jews who are less observant than they. The despicable actions of many of those 10,000 "Seminarians" who went to the Kotel to cuss out and harass WOW rather than pray proves to me that this is a dream for now.

  13. 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.

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