Secret Jewish Origins of!

While Moses may sound like an Egyptian name, did you know that Moses was portrayed in the move History of the World, Part I by noted Jew Mel Brooks? What about Moe of the Three Stooges, birth name Moses Harry Horwitz? Oh, and bartender Moe Szyslak from The Simpsons is voiced by Hank Azaria… a Jew!

OK, I made that quote up. But let’s be honest, you’ve probably seen a lot of these articles over the past few years. Jewish media need to be on top of trends, and you can’t let a story go cold… or even a body. Did a beloved musician die tragically? Read The Forward’s “The Secret Jewish History of Chris Cornell and Soundgarden.” (There is none.) What about a terrorist attack? Look, it’s The Forward again with “Can Kabbalah Help ‘Broken’ Ariana Grande Heal After Concert Bombing?” (Only if Madonna counts the sephirot backwards.) Maybe it’s time to get political? Tablet screams: “Ivanka Trump Mistakenly Identifies the Western Wall as Judaism’s ‘Holiest Site.'” (The pedantic author also gets it “wrong.”) And these are only from the last month!

But this star-kaker trend may have reached its nadir with an article from Haaretz, the reputed gold standard of Jewish/ Israeli media.

I refer to Nathan Abrams’ “The Secret Jewish Origins of Wonder Woman,” which is so much the epitome of anti-journalism I expected to see it in The Qwardian.

It starts off with a tiresome retread of the international hand-wringing over Gal Gadot: Is she white? Is she Zionist? Why does that matter? Actually, Abrams glosses over the third question, because he needs to get to his thesis, which is about Diana of Themyscira, not Gal of Rosh HaAyin–that she is secretly Jewish!

Wait, Wonder Woman had Jewish creators? No, but lots of Golden Age comic-book superheroes did, so…

Wait, the character is Jewish? Sure, she was molded from clay, and that’s got to be a Golem of Prague reference, because there’s no precedent in Greek mythology, right…

But her publisher, MC Gaines, was Jewish, so that counts via the Sandler Standard (“So many Jews are in showbiz/ Tom Cruise isn’t, but I heard his agent is!”).

I mean, tikun olam, fighting Nazis, feminism all seem Jewy, so… Case closed!

What really sticks in my Golden Girdle of Gaea is the rank ignorance and laziness of this piece. You see, there is a Jewish comic book legend who wrote Wonder Woman longer than anyone, a stunning run of over twenty years, from #22 in 1947 to #176 in 1968. His name is Robert Kanigher, son of Rebecca and Ephraim from Romania. You don’t need to strain to make Bob Kanigher Jewish. Not only did he shape Wondy’s story from the late Golden Age to the height of the Silver Age, he created iconic superheroines Black Canary and Rose & Thorn (not to mention Wonder Girl). He also created Ragman, the vigilante from Gotham City who actually turns out to be Jewish (and inspired by the Golem).

Jews have a lot to be proud of, in terms of our culture, art and science. The desperate need to make every hot celebrity or cause “Jewish” belittles that proud heritage. So raise a glass to Bob and Gal, but don’t try to dunk a superhero made of clay in the mikveh!

About the Author
Yoseif Bloch is a rabbi who has taught at Yeshivat HaKotel, Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah and served as a congregational rabbi in Canada. He currently works as an editor, translator and publisher. As a blogger and podcaster, he is known as Rabbi Joe in Jerusalem.