According to the latest internet fooferah, Gwyneth Paltrow is totally getting into her Jewish roots.
The headlines border on sickening. “Welcome home to the Jewish people, Gwyneth Paltrow!” chimes the Jerusalem Post.
Why didn’t they give such a hearty welcome to the hundreds of non-celebrity baalei teshuvah and geirim over the last few years? Or the thousands of new olim to Israel? Oh, right. We're not famous.
(Okay, there are skeptics as well, like one headline that pleads, “Haven’t the Jewish people suffered enough?” and a Reform rabbi who insists that her conversion will confuse people who rely on that movement’s teachings on patrilineal descent.)
In interviews, Gwyneth has said that she wants to raise her children, Apple, 10, and Moses, 8, in a "Jewish environment." She’s also said that she considers herself a "Jewish princess" because of her rabbinical ancestry.
Think all this speculation is trivial?
I did, when I first saw it.
I really couldn’t care less about what actors do in their own private spiritual lives… unless it affects me.
It turns out this does.
Because just a few years ago, Gwyneth and her husband Chris Martin (of the band Coldplay) were
raising funds for a front organization that funded Palestinian terrorism. [edited to avoid sketchy source and reworded to read] strongly supporting the Palestinian cause without any awareness of the actual situation on the ground. Heartbreaking pictures of children are heartbreaking, but tell you little about the reality of the situation. Indeed, he has shown no sign of letting up on this activity, attending a fundraiser for a Palestinian charity as recently as last year.
“I am the original Jewish mother,” she told a reporter at one point. “Oh my God, if you could see how much food I make.”
Nice… except that Judaism isn’t about food.
At this time of year, what Judaism is all about is teshuvah, which doesn’t mean “repentance,” the way it’s often translated. It means “return.” As in coming home. Here, to Israel.
The best way to prove that she has turned her back on any past misguided attempts to undermine the Jewish people’s foothold here in Israel… is to come to Israel.
To see the realities on the ground and be able to defend them as articulately as the late Joan Rivers did during Operation Protective Edge. Now there’s a celebrity I can get behind.
(If you haven’t watched Joan Rivers’ rant yet, I must interrupt this post to demand that you do so immediately.)
Notice Joan said, “I have been over there. That’s how I know. And I wish the world would know.”
So when is Gwyneth coming? When is she moving here?
I’m not holding my breath.
As the child of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, Gwyneth is certainly entitled to claim her stake here in the holy land. She could join the thousands of non-Jewish Russian olim, many as blonde as she is, in working hard to build the land.
But for some reason, claiming Israel seems like a pretty low priority for most people – particularly celebrities – who are “discovering” their Jewish heritage. Maybe because it’s hot and smelly and difficult to pull up stakes and move your entire life to another continent?
Israel is a highly inconvenient fact of Jewish life.
Call me a hypocrite if you want to. Israel was a low priority for me, too. For years. In fact, Israel was a low priority for my entire family.
My grandparents travelled here, of course, but my parents never bothered until they were in their 60s. My own plans to study here for a year in high school went awry when I decided that high school itself was an idea whose time had passed. After that window closed, I didn’t get here, even for a visit, until I was in my late 30s.
Yet today, it is my entire life. I am literally surrounded by Israel, on all sides, and cannot go anywhere without thinking about it: its history, its fate, its destiny.
All Jews should be so lucky.
As for Gwyneth… I’ll believe it when I see her on the ground at Ben Gurion airport.
Tzivia / צִיבְיָה