It was the Jewiest episode of Glee yet!
Rewind. Glee is one of the only television shows I watch on a regular basis. Don’t judge. It’s amazing.
This week’s episode elevated studly muskeljuden Noah “Puck” Puckerman to the top of my list of Jewish heroes and sealed diva Rachel Berry, AKA Lea Michele, as the heir to Barbara Streisand.
Puck, AKA Mark Salling (Is he Jewish in real life? Who knows? Who cares!?), opened the episode (a poignant and critical look at religion, spirituality, faith and God) with everybody’s favorite Jewish piano man, Billy Joel, after praising Jesus as his “No. 1 heeb.”
Billy Joel’s not-so-nice-Jewish-boy ode to chaste Catholic schoolgirl, Virginia, in “Only the Good Die Young,” is a particularly apt choice for Puck; last season he impregnated the uber-Christian head of the celibacy club, Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Remind anybody else of Mark Zuckerberg and the plethora of nice Jewish boys rejecting nice Jewish girls as potential partners, lovers, Friday-night hookups, etc.? He may have problems, but he’s still my hero.
And Rachel’s rendition of “Papa Can You Hear Me?” from Yentl is stunning (OK, so she’s no Streisand yet. Little more schmaltz, Lea). Clearly, there’s a Jew on the writing staff! Not that I’m jumping on the Jews-control-the-media-conspiracy bandwagon, New Voices, so please don’t do me like CNN did Sanchez.
But it was plucky Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) who spoke most to Jewish identity construction (or maybe he was just speaking to my Jewish identity … it’s possible). I’ll try not to spoil too much for those who may not have seen the episode yet; but, throughout the episode, Kurt struggles with faith and belief in a conscious, tangible god-concept and, more importantly, his well-meaning friends’ attempts to foist their religious beliefs on him.
It was relatable. Kurt’s questioning and his ultimate appreciation of community and understanding of his relationship with his father as divine struck me as a very Jewish intellectual struggle and understanding of the world. He’s sort of like Job, if Job had lived in the real world.
So, is Glee the new it show for heebsters and all the nice Jewish boys and girls? Could be.
On a side note: If you haven’t already, check out David Wilensky’s excellent letter to the editor of the New Jersey Jewish Standard, which this week apologized (apologized!) to those few orthodox Jews who had their homophobic feathers ruffled at the publication of a gay wedding announcement. We must continue to call out bigotry wherever we see it, we know what the consequences are of not standing up. My letter to the Standard concurring with David will follow soon. I hope yours will too (firstname.lastname@example.org).