Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

SuperJew

June 17, 2013 9:20 am 8 comments

Superman. Photo: DC Comics.

For my shekels, the question of whether the comic book character Superman, is Jewish or not shouldn’t even be questioned.

Born and named Kal-El by his father Jor-El, “El” is one of the ancient names for God used throughout the bible and found in great prophets such as Samue-el, Dani-el and angels Micha-el and Gavri-el and of course, Isra-el.

As Simcha Weinstein in his entertaining book, “Up, Up And Oy Vey“ points out, “Kal” is the root of several Hebrew words meaning, “with lightness,” “swiftness,” “vessel” and “voice.”

Our hero was also dreamed up by two Jewish boys; Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both born in Cleveland’s Jewish Glenville neighborhood back in the 1930s.

Together in issue after issue, they infused allusions to his true-Jew identity that are sewn into his DNA tighter than the stitching of his super suit. And over the last decade, countless books have been written about the early days of comic books and the role Jews played in them from, “Men of Tomorrow“ and “Comic Book Nation“ to the fictional brilliance and Pulitzer Prize winning, “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay“, a story inspired by a magazine article the author Michael Chabon read on how Siegel and Shuster lost control of their creation.

You see when the boys were trying to break into the comic book industry, there were all sorts of barriers up and just like country clubs and Ivy League colleges, they were excluded from newspaper strips or ad agencies that wouldn’t hire a Jew back in the 30s and 40s. Comic book publishers, as Al Jaffee of MAD magazine fame said, were mostly Jewish and so that’s where the boys wound up.

Unfortunately, the boychiks still got the shaft because in 1938, Detective Comics was looking for a hero for their new pub, Action Comics and wound up paying Siegel and Shuster a paltry $130 for the first 13 pages of Superman. It’s now, of course, a multi-billion industry and if you’ve got a copy of that original edition it’s worth half-a-million.

But back to Superman: From the time of his birth and like Moses, hidden in the basket by Jochebed and sent down the Nile; or needing to hide his true identity and fitting into the general populace as Clark Kent (the same way many Jews have had to assimilate); or in Action Comic #7 (1938) that reads, “Friend of the helpless and oppressed Superman, a man possessing the strength of a dozen Samsons”, on and on, etc., it’s hard to argue that what they were making was anything but a Jewish hero.

Yet, in this latest installment “Man of Steel”, out this weekend, headlines on The Drudge Report, Brietbart and other sites this week read, “Superman as Jesus.” Some reasons given were that the film has his alter ego Clark Kent seeking counsel in a church from a priest along with a stained glass image of Jesus hovering behind him. We also see Superman floating arms extended as if on the cross.  Moreover, The DR’s link brings you to an article on the U.K.’s Metro newspage that provides 20 reasons why he is Jesus, along with an interview with Director Zack Snyder, who says, “I think the relationship between Jesus and Superman is not a thing we invented in this film, it is a thing that has been talked about since the creation of Superman…” Hmm…

Now yes, we all know Jesus was a Jew and so if in this new movie, Superman is symbolically Jesus, he’s still a technically member of the tribe. But I don’t think Snyder or Hollywood is talking Jesus the rabbi here. They’re referencing Jesus the savior⎯the messiah⎯and there are some that would beg to differ and question that take on Superman’s lineage. In fact, The Forward has a piece, “10 Reasons Superman is Really Jewish“ (some of which I already mentioned) by Larry Tye who is the author of a biography of Superman, “Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero” providing plenty of cred to S’s Yidness.

So what do you think dear readers? Or, as Adam Sandler liked to say, “Jew” or “Not a Jew”?

Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant. This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

INSP, Nielsen Ratings,    CBS on Iran, Supreme Leader

8 Comments

  • I’m a high function autistic. If you have time could you run a google search on German Hybrid Super jew boy and read the related story on my website?

    My favorite is the link to Louie Armstrong performing on You Tube “When the Saints go Marching In” with Jewel Brown performing the vocals.

    The old wizard is pretty cool. too.

    Enjoy!

  • Jim Crozier

    Sorry to rain on your parade but Superman was actually first printed in Canada and is originally a Canadian creation.

    • Gerry Conetta

      I don’t know about the printing, but Joe Shuster was born in Toronto and only moved to Cleveland as a ten (?) year-old boy where he met Siegel.

  • I think that for Jews, the Superman as Moses story holds,a and always will.

    But, for Christians, yes, the story has to be Superman as Jesus, because that’s their trope; it’s the story they tell and buy tickets to see.

    A more creative question would be to ask if Superman holds for Muslims — is he seen as Moses? Surely, the Mohammed of the vast conquests and expansion doesn’t match the narrative.

  • JESUX FAILED IN ALL THINGS.
    TO COMPARE THE WORLD TO JESUX MAYBE ACCURATE BECAUSE… THE WORLD IS IN A TURMOIL, THE POLITICIAN ARE THIEVES, AND ISRAEL FORGOT THE ‘ONE G-D’.

    Mr author you say this jeusx association has been spoken about forever?…NOT TRUE…only by Jewish writers who have notihng else to say dig in the muck then bring up this character.

    Your name is Abraham father of our nation and this is what you think of?
    I AM HURT NOT DISSPOINTED THAT THIS IS WHAT JEWS FALL TO.
    Ever since jesux the world had more wars, more death, more torture, more destruction then before jesux and this is all yuou can think of to write about…
    HASHEM IS CRYING…
    You Mr author need to adjust your values and priorities and DEBT to your former people that you seem to have forgotten to appease the material world of filth.

    ALL THE HEAVENS ALSO CRY FOR YOU.

  • I guess the question is was superman circumcised and bar Mizwa?

    • Bar Mitzvah has come to mean “Drinks on the House!” The Brit Milah had to have been performed back on Krypton. What a ‘Gas’ THAT simcha would have been!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    JNS.org – Nine months ago, Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine, were schmoozing about the “vibrancy of Tel Aviv and soul of Jerusalem,” as Lane put it. They dreamed about how they could bring young and innovative millennials to the so-called “start-up nation.” From April 3-7, Forbes turned that dream into a reality. Israel played host to the first-ever Forbes Under 30 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) […]

    Read more →