SuperJew

June 17, 2013 9:20 am 7 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

7 Comments

  • 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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’s memoir follows the classic form, telling the story of his years at the Pentagon during the Bush and Obama administrations. He focuses on what he did and experienced personally as secretary, neither writing a broad policy treatise nor recounting the entire history of the administrations in which he served. In so doing, Gates provides penetrating insights about the inner workings of US national security decision-making. Had I been George W. Bush, I would [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin (Pavilion Press, Philadelphia, Pa. 2013) Sophocles said, “What people believe prevails over truth,” Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z is ideal for the arm chair reader who would like a basic grasp of the terms used in the mainstream media’s presentation of the Arab-Israeli situation as is reported today. This is a book whose time has come. This is a book where the reader gains a [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    JNS.org – On Thursday, audiences around the country can feel what it is like to be William Shatner, the Jewish actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Shatner’s one-man show “Shatner’s World”—which was on Broadway and toured Canada, Australia, and the United States—will be presented in nearly 700 movie theaters nationwide for one night only on April 24. Sponsored by Fathom Events and Priceline.com (for whom Shatner has famously served as a pitchman), [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.