Sarah Silverman and the Florida Jews

I have no formal training in comedy but, as Jews are wont to do, I consider myself something of a … Continued

I have no formal training in comedy but, as Jews are wont to do, I consider myself something of a comedian (and a tragedian too!). These talents notwithstanding, the only insight I have about Sarah Silverman’s recent pro-Obama video entitled “The Great Schelp” is that it is: 1) funny, 2) refreshingly anti-PC, and, 3) based on the rather questionable surmise that Jews might actually be able to tilt the vote in Florida.

As for funny, well, just watch the clip. That young African-American men and Jewish grandmothers have in common a love of track suits, Cadillacs and their grandchildren is perhaps the only joke from the video that I can recount on the august (web) pages of The Washington Post.

With cringe-inducing reliability, Ms. Silverman always manages to say the most offensive and unconscionable thing imaginable. Here, she clearly shares a twisted strand of DNA with her co-religionist, Larry David. The star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, who sets nightmares to comedy, has left in his wake scads of outraged Jews, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Muslim-Americans, gays, lesbians, rabbis, visually impaired people, Evangelical Christians and a small armada of people in wheelchairs.

And many others.

Aside from being skilled at their craft, both understand that in this great nation of ours skewering must be performed democratically. All groups must, perforce, be mocked. No one shall be spared–this is America, after all! We should consider ourselves fortunate to have these foul-mouthed patriots in our midst.

My only concern lies with the significance that Ms. Silverman and her fellow schleppers attribute to the Jewish vote in Florida. Don’t buy those plane tickets just yet, kids. Aside from the fact that air travel isn’t what it used to be, please recall that Jews compromise a scant 3.6 percent of the Sunshine State’s citizenry (about 655,000 out of a total Population of about 18 million).

True, a very large population of elderly Jews who are more hawkish on Iran than Obama, may find the McCain-Palin ticket more attractive. True, some of these grandparents could swing to the GOP after having lived through the unraveling of the Civil Rights coalition with all the Black-Jewish urban tensions that it entailed (for an intriguing look at this problematic I would recommend Grace Paley’s short story “Zagrowsky Tells.”)

But bear in mind that Obama’s views on the war in Iraq, abortion, the economy, public school curricula, gay marriage, the environment and other issues are far closer to those of the Jewish liberal mainstream. This is a mainstream that has not given a Democratic presidential candidate less than 76% of its vote in the last 4 elections.

If tomorrow were November 4th my surmise is that Obama would lose a few of those Jews who voted for Kerry in 2004. But not enough to tilt the race in any substantive manner. And that’s because Jews are bit players in the Florida electoral drama.

Yes, I know: hanging chads. I get it. To that I say, the shleppers might do more good for their candidate by brushing up on their Spanish and reaching out to the state’s massive Latino population (“Me llamo Shlomi. Yo soy por cambio!“). It is also estimated that roughly 4.5 million Evangelicals (with many Latinos to be counted among them) reside in Florida.

Think of Ms. Silverman rushing out to Jacksonville First Church of Christ with her video camera and inspirational messages for undecided gentiles. Then think of thousands of Obama operatives being flown in from 36 neighboring states and the Island of Guam to make sure that no such meeting ever occurs.

By Jacques Berlinerblau | 
October 1, 2008; 9:59 PM ET


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  • Athena4

    Sarah Silverman is funny? That’s news to me!

  • Farnaz

    Jacques,And this is important….because? Are you going to update us soon on liberal comedians appealing to elderly Catholics, Protestants, animists, Bahai, Buddhists, Hinudus, Muslims, et al?M’guess is Protestants and Catholics would be most significant since they make up the majority, and, do not, as you well know, overwhelmingly vote Democratic year after year, unfailingly in presidential elections.But y’know, I’m not really interested in hearing more about sectarian comedian appeals to the elderly, regardless of sect. I mean, well, who cares. (Sorry, but you really can do much better than this; you often do.)

  • Jim

    I am glad that Obama is running for president. Being a sixty-six year old black man and having endured stereotypes all of my life the airing out of black feelings towards whites and jews and Latinos and asians because of Obama’s racial makeup is refreshing.Obama is part black and part white. In order to honor his father and his mother Obama must be fair towards each race. Blacks do not hate Jews. Blacks do not smile in the face of whites and Jews and then go home and hate them. When we go home we talk about Judge Judy with our wives. We talk about paying bills. We talk about all kinds of things mainly through reaction to what has been said.Any black that has been blessed to interface with whites, Latinos and Asians know that there are good and bad in all races with the good usually out numbering the bad by a significant number. We blacks just want to be welcomed into the human family.

  • sam

    Sarah Silverman (kapo) is part of a movement that is setting up the Jewish community to take the blame if Obama loses. By the way, elderly Jews are in a unique position to have lived through the Holocaust era and may not take a positive view of “adoring children singing the praises of their leader”.

  • Francisco Cardenas

    Silverman oftentimes vulgar humor, I think, turns off more people than not.

  • oberst

    The ” other ” Sarah is funny, she’s a joke

  • Farnaz

    sam:Sarah Silverman (kapo) is part of a movement that is setting up the Jewish community to take the blame if Obama losesSam, I wouldn’t worry. Like the poor, bigoted morons will always be with us. Jews are fragment of this population. To anyone who would dare raise an accusing finger at Jews, I would quietly explain that it is the Christians (including Catholics) who are to blame. The reason, of course, would be their numbers. They, not Jews, will elect the next president. Keep in mind that “they,” the multinational Christian corporations also own the media, the products advertised there, etc. We have Born Again as President, Born Once (too often) Cheney, a Protestant House, Catholic Senate, Christian EXXON, BP, etc. Christian bigots find this information palliative, even curative. Now, there is of course, a great deal to be said to bigots of other persuasions, but I deal with one set of A holes at a time. Speaking of which….Shleppers, isn’t that yiddish? Such a splendid language. A triumph of Americanism.You are partly correct, partly in error, my friend. Yes, it is a splendid language, and many writers did remarkable things with it. I suspect you are thinking of IB Singer, Joseph Singer, Perelman, etc.? Kafka’s obsession with Yiddish perhaps?Are you familiar with Uriel Weinreich’s ground-breaking work? Let me know.Your error is in thinking it has anything to do with Americanism, whatever that means.It is, of course, older than the US, as you must know…

  • Farnaz

    Disgusting:Do you, perhaps, have Ruth Wisse (Harvard)in mind?

  • Janet

    Farnaz, Paganplace-”Disgusting” is a germ. Good to see we have doctors on this blog. -)

  • Anonymous

    “My only concern lies with the significance that Ms. Silverman and her fellow “schleppers” attribute to the Jewish vote in Florida.”To those who wrote “schlepper” is a Yiddish word. Since Yiddish to my knowledge is mostly German + a bit of Hebrew written in the Hebrew alphabet, the word “schlepper” is found also in German.The word is also commonly used in German as a verb “schleppen” = drag, haul, to tote, to tow…In German as a noun the word Schlepper has many meanings = tout, tugboat, tractor, hauler, smuggler…

  • Anonymous

    BTW, it was a non-German, non-Jewish take.

  • Anonymous

    I understand that in Yiddish the German words used can sometimes have very different meanings.E.g. Schmuck = ornament in German and pronounced as “shmook” as in “cook” has a less flattering meaning in Yiddish.

  • Ed in Miami

    Respectfully, Mr. Berlinerblau, you miss the point. The reason Sarah Silverman wants to persuade her Jewish grandmother in Florida to vote for Obama is because her grandmother is: 1. Jewish, 2. lives in Florida, and 3. doesn’t want to vote for Obama.Last time I checked, Jewish voters and Evangelical Latino voters are each allowed exactly one vote per person. Oy!

  • Anonymous

    Anyone wondering why Governor Palin seems to wink, it is the glasses stupid. No other candidate wears glasses.

  • Anonymous

    It was really smart to sidestep the issue of religion in the VP debate.There should not be a religious test for public office. The personal integrity of the candidates – lack of greed and corruption – and the policies they propose is the fruit of their religion. That should suffice as proof.

  • here

    m/watch?v=Ii9UXFxwnO8

  • Anonymous

    “Schlepping *for* Jews” is wrong use of the verb “schleppen” in German.The better usage would be “Schlepping Jews” or even better “Mitschlepping Jews”

  • Anonymous

    Why a religious debate is somewhat inappropriate in a political campaign:It is one thing to say prepared answers about economics and foreign policy or any political issue, but quite another to parrot prepared answers about religious conviction, since politicians are known to have speech writers who say what the public wants to hear. Only God is true witness of a person’s relationship with God and the authenticity of their faith. The personal integrity and the merit of their policies reflect the religion of politicians. Scrutiny should therefore be directed to the merit of their policies and integrity and generosity in their personal lives – lack of greed and corruption, the good deeds they have done outside of their paid political roles, good deeds done not as a political stunt to win votes or power, dance to lobbyists…

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    From Concerned the Christian now Liberated:Once orthodox Jews come to grips with the flaws and errors of Judaism, there will even be fewer orthodox Jews in that 655,000 Florida Jewish population. A synopsis of the flaws and errors of Judaism:Abraham founder/father of three major religions was either the embellishment of the lives of three different men or a mythical character as was mythical Moses, the “Tablet-Man” who talked to burning bushes and made much magic in Egypt. Many of the 1.5 million Conservative Jews and many of their rabbis (e.g. Rabbi Wolpe) have relegated Abraham to the myth pile along with most if not all the OT. Current crisis:Realization that the Jews are not god’s chosen people and never were since we are all children of the “Singularity”.www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/ConservativeTorah.htm

  • Anonymous

    test

  • Anonymous

    Hence in ?Yiddish “Jews mitschleppen” is a slightly better expression than for “Schlepper for Jews.”(mitschleppen in German = to carry sth. along; to drag sth. along; to haul sth. along; to cart sth. along

  • Anonymous

    Sorry the title on the main page was “Schlepping for Jews.”"Jews mitschleppen” is the better expression, at least in my humble non-German opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Unless Juden (pronounced yoo-den) is used, the expression “Jews mitschleppen” remains non-German, at least only partly German as Yiddish is. (Yiddish is the Yiddish form of German ‘Judisch’ – pronounced yoo-dish.)

  • Anonymous

    Btw, Judisch in German actually means Jewish, NOT Yiddish.

  • Anonymous

    A book on Obama by Gwen Ifill is to be released in January 2009. Better to pick a more non-partisan moderator for debates next time, although Gwen Ifill did a splendid job.

  • Anonymous

    Roe vs Wade is perched precariously on an arbitrary definition of personhood. The same arbitrary definition claims that life that depends on another for its survival has no rights to personhood. Hence pregnancy, a normal physiological reproductive state, is redefined as a life threatening disease of the mother, but ONLY when she does not want the child, when in fact the real threat is to the child’s life.

  • Anonymous

    Roe vs Wade is perched precariously on an arbitrary definition of personhood. The arbitrary definition implies, with life threatening consequence for the child in the womb, that it has no right to its life because it is dependent on its mother for its survival; and that personhood and right to its life will be granted only when it can survive independent of its mother.It does not take rocket science to worry seriously about the sinister consequence of such an arbitrary definition of personhood – dependency equals losing the right to one’s life.Out of such a court decision, which awarded a mother the right to kill her unborn child arbitrarily, has issued the most “creative” definitions for a completely defenseless, innocent, unborn child: “parasite,” “clump of cells,” “an invader in the womb who deserves to As once slavery was the law of the land and yet was abolished, because many would not rest until it was, so should the law that gives a woman the “right” to kill her unborn child be overthrown because of the work of those who cannot rest in the knowledge more innocent children get killed each day because the law remains in force. If only one more child gets to live when the law is overturned, that one child’s life is worth fighting for.

  • Anonymous

    I’m convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that deeply religious politicians (without having to prove their faith by talking about it in public) committed to peace, justice and human rights around the world can work miracles in a way no other can. When Caesar strives to establish God’s kingdom on earth with the power that he/she wields (without establishing a theocracy of any particular religion), they can move mountains in which God is truly a part.Voters should learn to judge politicians by their good works, not by the eloquence with which they express their religious beliefs. Politicians are not pastors and should not be pushed to play such roles. Politics is a full time job. All religious people must pray for politicians, that politicians may seek God’s wisdom and guidance in prayer in the privacy of their chambers and express it through their policies.

  • Anonymous

    Attitudes may have changed, but human embryology has not – not since Hippocrates, not since the beginning of human existence.

  • Anonymous

    As long as “only” The Hippocratic Oath, some physicians, conservative Jews, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Conservative Evangelical and some atheists are against abortion, overturning Roe vs Wade is going to be a tough fight, mostly because the “right” to abort is perceived as a feminist “achievement” that is supported by some physicians and all the other religious communities, except the ones listed, and most atheists.The argument with human embryology had been made in 1973, but the invention of the term “personhood,” a word non-existent in the Constitution, canceled the merit of hard core medical science that supported the right to life of the unborn child. Similarly, the word “conception as a process” was introduced. Conception is a layman’s term, hence it cannot be used in the legal context when it tries to present the scientific viewpoint. Fertilization is not a long drawn process. “Human oocytes (unfertilized eggs) are usually fertilized with 12 HOURS after ovulation (release of the egg) . In vitro observations have shown that the oocyte cannot be fertilized after 24 HOURS and that it degenerates shortly thereafter.” (Moore and Persaud) Implantation of the zygote “fertilized ovum” starts six days after fertilization and is complete before the woman even suspects pregnancy. If implantation is to be the layman’s equivalent of conception, then it occurs BEFORE the woman misses her period due to pregnancy, *before* the pregnancy test shows a positive result.

  • Anonymous

    Moderator of Presidential Debate II was brilliant and non-partisan. Congratulations!Keeping the debate focussed on policies was good strategy. Politics should be primarily about policies and how it affects the people. People should learn to focus less on personalities and more on merit of the policies that affect them.Both Senators did their best and revealed their respective strengths.

  • Anonymous

    There is plenty of opportunity for candidates to put their personalities on display and appeal to the emotions of voters during their individual campaigns. The national debates must focus on policies which gives the voters, including the international community, a chance to compare important policies proposed by both sides, since the individual campaigns focus only on individual strengths and focus on issues that suits each candidate best.

  • Anonymous

    Since abortion has remained a hot topic for thirty five years and is not about to go away any time soon, it is vitally important for all four candidates – Senator Obama, Senator McCain, Senator Biden and Governor Palin to get embryologists to brief them on important scientific aspects of human development, so that none of them make any public blunders with regard to the science, and are able to expressed informed opinions on the topic.Question: What would the candidates do to reduce abortions?Do they believe overturning Roe vs Wade would have a positive impact on reducing abortion?Will social support alone help in reducing abortions? If they believe that alone is sufficient, how do they explain the situation in Europe where social support is very good. In Europe, the laws restricting abortions does seem to have an equally important impact.What sort of sex education would they provide to reduce abortion? Abstinence alone has not worked as successfully as it was supposed to; but neither has unlimited availability of contraceptives with very lax abortion laws worked in a country like Sweden with very generous social support. In Germany, on the other hand, tough laws with sufficient flexibility, comprehensive sex education, generous supply of contraceptives seem to produce better results. On the other extreme of abortion laws is Irel

  • Anonymous

    Since abortion has remained a hot topic for thirty five years and is not about to go away any time soon, it is vitally important for all four candidates – Senator Obama, Senator McCain, Senator Biden and Governor Palin to get embryologists to brief them on important scientific aspects of human development, so that none of them make any public blunders with regard to the science, and are able to expressed informed opinions on the topic.Question: What would the candidates do to reduce abortions?Do they believe overturning Roe vs Wade would have a positive impact on reducing abortion?Will social support alone help in reducing abortions? If they believe that alone is sufficient, how do they explain the situation in Europe where social support is very good. In Europe, the laws restricting abortions does seem to have an equally important impact.What sort of sex education would they provide to reduce abortion? Abstinence alone has not worked as successfully as it was supposed to; but neither has unlimited availability of contraceptives with very lax abortion laws worked in a country like Sweden with very generous social support. In Germany, on the other hand, tough laws with sufficient flexibility, comprehensive sex education, generous supply of contraceptives seem to produce better results. On the other extreme of abortion laws are two Catholic countries which outlaw abortion: Ireland and Poland. Abortion rates are extremely low, not many women are known to be dying due to back alley abortions, although many go to other countries for abortions, the numbers do not run into hundreds of thousands.What can US learn from all of this?The WHO is pushing abortion as a population control measure. While applicable in desperately poor countries, does the richest country in the world, the US, with a Christian majority, with the highest percentage of practicing Christians in the Western world, need to resort to such eugenics?

  • Anonymous

    The medically important obstetricians could provide the candidates is:How often is the life of the mother actually at stake due to a pregnancy?How often does an obstetrician have to decide to abort the child in order to save the life of the mother?How has modern medicine, read:obstetrics, improved the health of the mother during pregnancy?How has the medical specialty of fetology improved the life of the child in the womb?How has the life of the prematurely newborn been improved by advances in neonatal pediatric medicine/surgery?

  • Anonymous

    In the lead up to the enactment of Roe vs Wade, the American Medical Association in its report on the matter, had this to say:”With strange inconsistency, the law fully acknowledges the foetus in utero and its inherent rights, for civil purposes; while personally and as criminally affected, it fails to recognize it, and to its life as yet denies all protection.” Id., at 75-76.”What does Senator Obama, trained in law at Harvard, and as one who taught Constitutional Law at the University, have to say about the strange legal inconsistency referred to by the AMA in its report on abortion?

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