web analytics
June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Books »

Title: Up, Up, And Oy Vey! – How Jewish History, Culture And Values Shaped The Comic-Book Superhero

Title: Up, Up, And Oy Vey! – How Jewish History, Culture And Values Shaped The Comic-Book Superhero
Author: Rabbi Simcha Weinstein
Publisher: Leviathan Press, Baltimore, MD

 

 

I grew up with a cousin who was always escaping from shul in order to read his comic books. It turns out he was still learning Torah – according to Simcha Weinstein.


Rabbi Weinstein, who in his “previous life” was a film location manager in Great Britain (credits include “Tomorrow Never Dies,” a James Bond film), is now a rabbi and chaplain serving a collegiate population in downtown Brooklyn. He is also the organizer of the International Jewish Film Festival presented annually in Brooklyn Heights, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.


Apparently he spent his youth also reading – and collecting – comic books and graphic novels (notably including Will Eisner, whose work is now gaining worldwide attention).


The comic book was the “port of entrée” to employment for hundreds of young Jewish artists and illustrators during America’s depression years. They were unable to gain access to better paying jobs at advertising agencies and major firms, due to anti-Semitism.



New York City, central to immigrant Jewish life in the early and mid-20th century, was home to most of the comic book industry, although significantly, “Superman” was born in Cleveland, Ohio (to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). Many of the artists (and the writers who originated the stories) drew their fantasies to escape “the ghetto,” but the plots, storylines and characters still resembled the Jews they left behind on Delancey Street. It wasn’t so much Nietzsche who “invented” the superman character as much as our Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel in Prague who created a golem. Many of the comic book characters, including “The Hulk,” are almost entirely based on the Jewish concepts of teshuva, tzedaka and tikkun olam.


Weinstein points out that most of the comic book characters have dual identities (Clark Kent is Superman and Bruce Wayne is Batman) just like many Jews had for many centuries. Evidence the anglicized names of many of the comic book artists, who changed their names to suit American society – which during the pre-war era was almost as anti-Semitic as Europe. Just as we take off our shirts to reveal our tzitzis underneath, Clark Kent stripped off his suit to reveal his skin-tight uniform (where would he ever find a telephone booth today?), enabling him to spring into action.


The book reveals that although many of the authors and artists were trying to escape a Jewish milieu, you could take them out of the Jewish neighborhoods they grew up in, but you couldn’t take the Judaism out of their souls. “Captain America” was born in 1938, with a front cover depicting him smacking Adolph Hitler square on the jaw. This was a comic book reply to America’s isolationists and all through the Second World War, nearly one of five pieces of literature mailed to our fighting men in both “theatres” were comic books and graphic novels. In fact, Will Eisner spent the war years writing and illustrating graphic, how-to manuals for the armed forces to assist the Army in instructing barely literate recruits on how to operate and maintain military equipment.


So if you still have your old comic book collections up in the attic somewhere, take them down and look at them in a new light, as Rabbi Weinstein has done. They’re not only often rare and collectible (some valued at as much as a half million dollars each), but they contain Jewish concepts and storylines adapted directly from the Bible.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Title: Up, Up, And Oy Vey! – How Jewish History, Culture And Values Shaped The Comic-Book Superhero”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Pro-Israel Group: Tell Chuck Schumer Not to Cave [video]
Latest Sections Stories

Anna Henriques, who hopes to one day head back to Jamaica, says, “Rabbi Raskin must be willing to respect what exists in Jamaica. The way to the future is to gently bring in the traditions of the past and at the same time embrace the idiosyncrasies of the Jamaican people.”

Food-Talk---Eller-logo

The Silver Platter has it all: gorgeous photography, oodles of useful tips and, more importantly, incredible recipes that you will find yourself making again and again.

Respler-062615

It is very hard to build a healthy marriage when you do not have good role models.

My best book is one that hasn’t been published yet.

We tend to justify and idealize this division with pride attributing these tendencies as demonstrating a higher level of kedushah.

Everyone in the kehilla can get involved, she added, and mothers can network with each other.

On her first ever trip to Israel last week, popular radio talk-show personality and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy Browne, whose spirited broadcasts regularly attract millions of listeners across North America, paid a visit to OneFamily headquarters in Jerusalem in order to learn more about the physical and emotional challenges faced by victims of terror in […]

With the famous Touro Synagogue, a variety of mansions, each with its own distinct personality, as well as the beautiful coast, Rhode Island makes for an excellent vacation spot.

To avoid all this waste and unnecessary anxiety, let’s break the task down step by step and tackle each one at a time.

While there are those who insist they need full-color photos to be truly entranced by a recipe, I suggest you get over that particular requirement because the written word here will draw you in and cause you to salivate as you peruse the recipes scattered throughout The Well-Spiced Life (Israel Book Shop).

For those who couldn’t go off base, a personal parcel was priceless in its ability to convey a feeling of home.

With the danger of being discovered always a possibility, the partisans not only moved around in the forest, but also eliminated any collaborators.

We never cease to be students, even when we are no longer in school. Therefore, everyone can learn from these elements of thought.

More Articles from Aharon Ben Anshel
book-Lincoln

It’s almost pointless to try to summarize all of the fascinating information that Holzer’s research unearthed.

book-disambiguation

While still a student in a small Midwest college she learns that her aunt in New York has passed away, resulting in her life turning topsy turvy.

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Green was an American volunteer in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, but something happened In Israel that has haunted him ever since.

Witnessed by Theodore Herzl, who was a journalist for a Viennese newspaper covering the trial, the cause célèbre became the spark that eventually caused the rise of the State of Israel in modern times.

These eleven nursing home residents and their accompanying staff from the Connecticut nursing home could represent any of us or our own loved ones…

There are three kinds of travelers: there are tourists, there are businesspeople, and then there are historians like Ben G. Frank.

The last kind doesn’t simply go from here to there. They try to relive history and find the real meaning behind what they experience.

Behind “the news” there’s almost always a story that isn’t being reported, and certain kinds of phenomenon occur almost simultaneously all over the world in almost every era.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-up-up-and-oy-vey-how-jewish-history-culture-and-values-shaped-the-comic-book-superhero/2006/05/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: