Where Art Thou Sarah?


In June last year, I attended the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, where one of the featured guests was comedienne Sarah Silverman. Many (including yours truly) thought it a strange decision to invite her, especially as a speaker on a panel on Jewish identity. So I started to prepare a post on my thoughts, but could not find the time nor motivation to develop it into much more than a stream of consciousness. So it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for over 6 months, apparently waiting to be brought out for this post.

Those who followed my tweeting from the 2011 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem would have seen I attended a panel discussion about Jewish identity, featuring singer Matisyahu and stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman.

Despite these “big name” panelists, I suspected the discussion may not be too enlightening. After all, Silverman has a foul mouth and has never shown that she feels particularly strongly about Jewish identity (despite her Jewish name and stage shtik). Yet my pop culture leanings ensured I would be attending this session.

As it turns out, my suspicions were realized, although there were some entertaining moments.

What the video does not show were Silverman’s use of the words “arse” and “a-hole” in relatively quick succession, Matisyahu getting up and walking out of the room a few times (he claims it was to stay hydrated ahead of his concert, but judging by his demeanour, I suspect he may have been smoking something outside), and the moderator’s inability to steer the discussion.

Update: This JPost reporter comes down hard on the panel discussion, and this one is even more critical of the decision to invite Silverman to speak at the conference.

At one stage, I found myself outside conversing with a foreign dignitary (who shall remain nameless) who was appalled at the decision to bring – and I quote –“such a crass and vulgar woman” to what is purportedly a respectable forum under the auspices of Israel’s president.

The reason I am resurrecting that lost post is not to relive the good old bearded days, but rather because her recent Twitter activity has just reinforced how she is the antithesis of a good Jewish role model. Take her new Twitter biography for example. 

Granted, one could conclude she is just “trying to be funny” (emphasis on trying), but her other tweets indicate she is making a real political statement.

While everyone’s entitled to their opinion, Silverman seems to be identifying herself with the palestinians. Which makes her choice as someone to speak about Jewish identity even more misguided and ironic.

I guess she’s more Silverstein than Silverman.

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