Cartoons have always held a special place in our hearts, a reminder of the carefree days of childhood. For many, Disney has been at the forefront of these cherished memories. However, in a surprising and heartwarming turn, Disney has found a unique way to connect kids with their Jewish heritage through the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashanah. In an exciting collaboration, Team Spidey of “Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends” is teaming up with none other than Ben Grimm, also known as The Thing from the Fantastic Four, in a special Rosh Hashanah-themed episode set to premiere on Disney on September 15th.
In this special holiday episode, The Thing, a beloved character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, joins forces with the kid-centric heroes Miles Morales and Peter Parker to embark on a mission to save and celebrate Rosh Hashanah. The episode unfolds as Gobby, also known as the Green Goblin, devises a nefarious plan to steal all the bees, putting at risk the cherished Rosh Hashanah tradition of celebrating the Jewish New Year with apples and honey. The Thing, alongside Team Spidey, thwarts Gobby’s sinister plan and preserves the tradition of love and celebration. But what makes this collaboration even more special is the rich history and personal journey of Ben Grimm, who is not just the Fantastic Four’s most popular member but also Marvel’s most prominent Jewish superhero. Ben’s Jewish identity was subtly hinted at for decades before it was officially confirmed in Fantastic Four #56, published in 2002, in a powerful and touching narrative about reconnecting with one’s roots.
In this issue, The Thing walks down Yancy Street, reflecting on his troubled past and his relationship with his Jewish neighbor, Hiram Sheckerberg. Ben’s life takes an unexpected turn when he saves Sheckerberg from the villain Powderkeg and recites the Sh’ma, a central declaration of the Jewish faith, when he believes Sheckerberg is dead. This moment raises questions about Ben’s reluctance to openly acknowledge his Jewish identity, leading Sheckerberg to wonder if Ben is ashamed of it. Ben’s reluctance to openly embrace his Jewish heritage stems from a deep-seated fear that people might judge all Jews based on his actions and appearance. He grapples with a self-deprecating belief that he is a “monster,” a label he wrongly applies to himself despite being a hero who has saved the world multiple times as a member of the Fantastic Four. This self-doubt highlights a common fear among many Jews – being unfairly judged or stereotyped based on the actions of one individual.
However, as the issue progresses, Ben begins to shed his self-doubt and realizes that he is not a monster. He’s a man who has defended others, stood up to bullies, and performed countless acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. His journey culminates in a touching moment where he publicly reads from the Torah, embracing his Jewish identity with pride. This act of self-acceptance is a powerful testament to the importance of celebrating one’s heritage and not letting fear or self-doubt hold you back.
The Thing’s journey from reluctance to pride in his Jewish identity is a heartwarming and inspirational story that resonates with people of all backgrounds. It reminds us that it’s essential to embrace who we are, no matter our differences or the obstacles we face. In the upcoming Rosh Hashanah-themed episode on Disney, The Thing’s character will undoubtedly serve as a symbol of resilience, self-discovery, and the power of celebrating one’s heritage.
This collaboration between Disney and Marvel not only provides a fun and exciting way for kids to connect with their Jewish roots during Rosh Hashanah but also delivers a poignant message about self-acceptance and the importance of embracing one’s identity, making it a must-watch episode for families of all backgrounds. So mark your calendars for September 15th, as The Thing and Team Spidey swing into action, saving Rosh Hashanah and inspiring us all to be proud of who we are, just as Ben Grimm has learned to be proud of his Jewish heritage.