Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Is Yoda Jewish?

The short answer is yes, but I'll elaborate.

Last month, the perpetually annoying, self-obsessed, and over-exposed-in-every-way writer and actress Lena Dunham caused a stir when The New Yorker published an unfunny humor piece she wrote called "Dog or Jewish Boyfriend?"

The Anti-Defamation League was all up in Lena’s shit about it, and everyone was calling her an anti-Semite (although she's part Jewish herself, I guess), and the internet lit up with commentary and navel-gazing. But like lots of other Jewish people, the thing I found offensive had nothing to do with the Jewish stuff. What offends me is that Lena Dunham, far from being funny, is SUPREMELY annoying, and yet she continues to consume valuable media real estate all over the place, for no reason. 

Also, I'm not a big fan of throwing the "anti-Semitism" accusation around willy-nilly. Like all bigotry, I think anti-Semitisim is terrible and very much alive and well, which is unfortunate, and that also like all other bigotry, it should be fought against vigorously. But I also think that sometimes, that card gets played by some very crazy assholes to justify some very crazy and inhumane agendas and that it does not necessarily make you an "anti-Semite" if you call some of that craziness out as the straight-up bullshit and craziness that it is. But that's a thorny controversy I don't want to get into here, so back to Yoda.

Anyway, Paige asked the other day whether Yoda from Star Wars is Jewish. I’m not sure what prompted her question, but a friend of mine who is a rabbi said that Yoda’s face was based on Albert Einstein and he was voiced by Frank Oz, both of whom are Jewish or part-Jewish, so yes, on the authority of a rabbi, Yoda is Jewish. 

Since my children are perpetually concerned with who else isn't going to get a Christmas tree and visits from Santa and The Easter Bunny, I was happy to report back to Paige that the revered Yoda was, in fact, one of the chosen Tribe of Israel. 

When you think about it, it’s obvious that Yoda is a little old Jewish man. He looks like half of the little old Jewish men in my family. He’s got the bald head and big hairy ears and wispy white hair, and the wisdom of the ages. And like any good rabbi teaching his disciples the ways of the Torah, Yoda busts out on the regular with wise quotes about The Force and practicing and learning and figuring shit out in a calm and mellow and deliberative way. 

He tells Luke to study hard and complete his Jedi training. Kind of like how my grandpa was all about me remaining a student as long as possible ("If you end your training now--if you choose the quick and easy path ... you will become an agent of evil" and "Do or do not. There is no try."). I still might be an agent of evil in life though, I'm not sure.

Similarly, while teaching me to drive, my dad explained what his father had told him: "small moves," as he patiently drew a diagram and conducted a visual lesson of how stick shift works and what's under the hood of a Honda Civic.

Also, Yoda sometimes sounds like a rabbi delivering a paraphrase of the mourner's kaddish: ("Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss then do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is."). That's Yoda. Not the kaddish, by the way.

Finally, Yoda's sweater/robe. Totally Jewish old man style. So yep, Yoda is definitely Jewish.

1 comment:

  1. This is the first time I have had any desire to see Star Wars.

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