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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Thursday, May 05, 2005
 
Forward Newspaper Online: Tinseltown Rabbi Saves a Prayer for Prime-time Show
My wife and I are into this new show, Grey's Anatomy. It's the new ER, I guess. Nothing too heavy, just a slighty interesting little show with attractive people to look at.

The episode profiled here is sure to be cringe-worthy, however, as the article implies. I am already wincing in anticipation. Not just the part about an orthodox girl consulting a female rabbi. (It's not the female part in and of itself that's odd, but the fact that since she's female she must be a non-orthodox rabbi. People not in-the-know might not care, and even those of us who know the scoop could easily imagine the scenario mentioned in the article but not in the script, that the woman is the girl's previous rabbi or something similar.)

No, the cringes, for gentiles and Jews alike, will be when the rabbi starts singing the prayer. That kind of stuff can make a show stand still, and not in a good way.

Regarding the issue in the show, about the kid's reluctance to accept a heart valve from a pig, I can't imagine that would really be an issue (although a kid, especially newly-religiously observant, might think it is). Not only is she not gonna eat it, but pretty much anything goes if it's gonna save a life. If you're literally starving and the only food around is bacon, you can eat that bacon.

Always fun when a TV show gets all Jewy.
Comments:
There's so many actual medical situations where a religious Jew may have a conflict between good medicine and Judaism (like issues of brain-death, withdrawal of care, how to maintain Sabbath observance as a patient...), and instead they made up a situation that no religious Jew would have any problem with.

The scene would go something like this:
Doctor: So you need a new heart valve, and I think the best one for you would be one taken from a pig.
Jew: Do I have to eat it?
Doctor: Eat it? Are you crazy? No. It's a major open-heart surgery. All you do is go under genereral anesthesia. I saw through your sternum and take out your valve and put in this one. How would eating it help?
Jew: Never mind. Is next Wednesday OK?
Doctor: Sure. If you want, I could get Rabbi Sally to sit with you now and sing you a blessing.
Jew: What? How would that help?
Doctor: Never mind. I saw it on a TV show.

Why don't they hire us to write this stuff?
 
The Rabbi on Babylon 5 was played by Theodore Bikel. Now THAT was a good rabbi show.

And as far as I know, the only show with a Jew in space.
 
I long ago decided that it is better for Jews never to be seen on T.V. The writers always get it wrong. Either the scenario is bogus, or they just add a little Hanukkah to a Christmas theme. It's all cringeworthy. The one exception is "The Soprano's." They used a very realistic portrayal of an ultra-orthodox Jew who got peripherally involved in organized crime. First of all, I bet this happens a lot and second of all, he got the #@$% kicked out of him. Very satisfying.
 
I'm having a tough time coming up with a tv or movie reference in which an orthodox Jew was portrayed as just a regular person, not specifically as part of a "jewish" storyline. I think there was some dumb movie in the 80s, like weird science or something, where a pair of kippah wearing jews were secondary characters at a geek-fair or something.
 
Well, possibly what viewers will come away with is a "positive vibe" on Judaism, despite the ludicrous plot. It is disappointing in a way, because I caught a couple of episodes of that show and found it reasonably intelligent. Of course, a rabbi will usually visit any congregant who is in the hospital, so how hard is it to work a rabbi into a hospital show? (When I was in the hospital, my rabbi visited while I was still coming out of sedation and apparently we had a conversation which I don't remember at all.)
 
We used laugh watching bits and pieces of old cowboy and Indian movies. They had Native American's all wrong.
 
wickwire - definitely true that pretty much all ethnicities and religions are done wrong in popular entertainment. Except Klingons - them they get down pat.

PsychoT - now that you mention it, I vaguely recall some sort of cop show where one of the regular actors wore a kippah, yet it wasn't a focal point of any storylines... dang, I can't think of it. Any ideas?
 
I just saw the episode in question. I found the whole episode to be gawdawful. But the Jewish stuff was just plain insulting. And there are so many valid Jewish issues in medicine! Why couldn't they pick one of those.
 
Thanks to Ralphie for answering the question I posted on Cross-Currents!

Dr. Bean wrote:

"There's so many actual medical situations where a religious Jew may have a conflict between good medicine and Judaism (like issues of brain-death, withdrawal of care, how to maintain Sabbath observance as a patient...)"

On the contrary, there is never a conflict between good medicine and Judaism. Medical procedures to save lives take precedence over all other areas of Jewish law -- "other" because saving lives is Jewish law.

In the first two cases Dr. Bean mentions, many doctors would allow the patient to die while Judaism requires preservation of that life. Regardless of where you sided on Terry Schiavo, that's not good or bad medicine, because it's not a medical decision.

How to maintain Sabbath observance as a patient is also pretty simple: if it's a matter of potential loss of life, you do it, period. The things we actually need to avoid are too picayune to make good TV.
 
PsychoToddler said...
The Rabbi on Babylon 5 was played by Theodore Bikel…And as far as I know, the only show with a Jew in space.

Completely off-topic, but Joss Whedon’s Firefly (which will re-air on Sci-Fi channel this summer) also has an Orthodox Jewish character in space (episode titled “The Message”).
 
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