Shock Jock Howard Stern’s Orthodox Daughter Hosts Shabbat Dinners on Friday Nights
Instead of participating in New York City’s vibrant nightlife scene, controversial radio super-star Howard Stern’s eldest child spends her Friday nights hosting large Shabbat dinners as part of her decision nearly a decade ago to practice Orthodox Judaism, she told the New York Post in an interview on Sunday.
Emily Stern, 32, resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and studies Torah regularly at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, while working full-time as an actress and artist, writing plays and music.
She said that when growing up, she used to fast on Yom Kippur and enjoy family seders on Passover, but her Jewish parents were never particularly religious. She told the Post that her father and mother — Howard’s former wife, Alison Berns — instead practiced Transcendental Meditation. Emily said she received her first mantra at the age of 10 and still meditates.
According to the Post, Howard Stern, an ardent Zionist who often defends Israel on air, once admitted that he hates wearing the Jewish skullcap, also known as a yarmulka, and he joked that the theme of Emily’s bat mitzvah should be “I hate Jews.” Despite his personal complicated attitude toward Judaism, Emily said, he and her mother, who divorced in 1999, have no problem with her decision to live an Orthodox life. She even keeps her own set of kosher dishware at her mother’s house.
“Everyone in my family is evolving — no one has that resentment toward Judaism,” she said, before explaining her decision to become religious. “I was trying to figure out what to be in the world. I’d say, ‘God help me.’ The question was, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ It was a little bit of a crisis.”
Emily said it “took a lot of bravery” to become religious over the past nine or so years, adding, “F - - k it if [people] think it’s weird or doesn’t make sense.”
That she is still single she attributes to her father’s constant sex-talk over the airways — and to the trauma of her parents’ splitting up after 21 years of marriage.
“I felt like the divorce came out of nowhere,” she said. “I thought that sacred bond was so strong. He used to be one way, and then he marries a model.” She was referring to her father’s marriage in 2008 to Beth Ostrosky, 18 years his junior.
“It’s rare I go on dates [now],” Emily told the Post. And “my dad’s emphasis on sexuality [in his career] kept me out of the dating ring [when I was younger].”
But Emily is busy with an upcoming photo exhibit, opening Nov. 18 at the Hadas Gallery in Brooklyn, which focuses on Portugal’s water-retention landscape. She said she called it “Wells of Miriam” because the works remind her of a mikvah, the Jewish ritual bath associated with purity and renewal.