Marty Kaplan takes this question up in his Jewish Journal article, "Waiting for Jewman."
Jon Stewart did his show, business as usual, on Rosh Hashanah this year. That night, when his interview guest, Meghan McCain, daughter of Senator John McCain, greeted him with “Happy New Year,” Stewart looked uncharacteristically nonplussed for a nanosecond, before replying, “What? Huh? See you in Times Square tonight.”Hollywood Jew blogger Danielle Berrin pursues the topic, "Jon Stewart’s version of Judaism," linking it somehow with the Jewish Standard brouhaha over a gay wedding announcement:
“Culturally Jewish, but not practicing” is what it’s called on the JDate profile form. Stewart grew up in suburban New Jersey with the name Jon Stewart Liebowitz. When radio host Howard Stern asked him about his real name, Stewart answered, “Actually, it’s ‘Jewy Jewman.’ ”
It’s hard to imagine someone who identifies more strongly with New York-style Jewish shtick. He switches into Jerry Lewis’ voice and gestures at the drop of a yarmulke. Yiddish intonations take up considerable space in his comic’s toolkit, as do mentions of obscure Jewish holidays, traditional Jewish food and top hits from the Torah. ..more...
Earlier this week, The Berman Jewish Policy Archive, a research and analysis outfit at NYU, offered their findings on the state of Jewish journalism in the aftermath of a controversy at The Jewish Standard in New Jersey. One critique, from Andrew Silow-Carroll, expressed a wish “that journalists would move beyond their serial habit of assessing the ‘Jewishness’ of various public figures.”We are puzzled at the linkage of topics. But we want to make it clear that sometimes asking if someone is Jewish is just that and nothing more. And sometimes it is more.
The sentiment seemed shortsighted, because “assessing” the Jewishness of others enables communal connection. For example, knowing Jon Stewart was born Jewish is one thing; hearing him crack self-deprecating Jewish jokes night after night is intimately endearing. A Jew can participate in Stewart’s jokes because there’s a shared reference point; Jews aren’t laughing at Stewart, they’re laughing with him...more...
Jon Stewart is a comedian. His profound impact as a cultural critic and political commentator is anything but funny. That's a big part of what makes him Jewish, no?
[repost from 10/16/2010]