I think I lost some fans this week. Upon hearing that Natalie Portman (nee Hershlag), possibly the most famous successful va-va-voom Israeli-born Jewish celebrity, became impregnated and then engaged (in that order) to a ballet dancer she met while filming her current film, “Black Swan,” I posted this on Facebook: “I am not sure if I should share my feelings about Natalie Portman getting pregnant and engaged.”
Oh, the comments: 59 in as many minutes! Most saying variations of the following: “Who are you to judge!?” (As a matter of fact, I am not judging.) “Wrong order; right intention.” (I’ll agree with that; STILL NOT JUDGING- just stating my personal preference…) “Who cares about her personal life?” Well, funny you should ask…
I don’t follow the lives of celebrities at all. I don’t watch any TV show that might clue me into who’s dating who or who’s married to or divorced from who. I don’t read the newspaper since I had my first son 5 years ago, and the only radio I listen to doesn’t regularly report this sort of stuff.
My husband has elbowed me in the ribs numerous times when in conversation with friends or “Hollywood” types I make horrendous errors in who’s dating who and who I assume is still married when even he knows they broke up years ago (i.e. the Ben Affleck, JLo, Jennifer Garner thing never got straightened out for me). Once we are in a safe place, my husband will shriek, “Really!? Are you serious!? Where have you BEEN!?”
But I do care about Natalie Portman. Why? Here’s a hint: I also care about Sacha Baron Cohen (and now Isla Fisher too). I care about Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, and Jon Stewart. Get it?
They are all Jews. I love Jews, celebrity and not.
Am I a hater of gentiles? Of course not. I simply feel linked to my fellow tribe-members in an inexplicable and, admittedly, bizarre way. If you want to get technical about it (and I tend to like to), me, Nat, Sacha, Babs, Woody and Jon all stood at Mt. Sinai together thousands of years ago. We share some genetic connection, even if it goes back all those years. Heck, if I descended from Cohens, with access to a genetics lab, I could prove that he and I share more than just a little DNA! We may not celebrate Tisha B’Av the same way, or even Chanukah for that matter, but I don’t care about that. They are as Jewish as I am and that rocks hard.
I’m a little bit like my Grandparents who lived during a war that ripped our people to shreds and saw families and a chunk of our culture and language float through furnaces and into the air of a world that seemed to not know exactly how to show that they cared. I am a little bit – okay, a lot bit, fixated on Jews. I want them to succeed; I want to know what their Seders are like; and I want to know if they love being Jewish as much as I do.
In the interest of full disclosure, I just realized that the Jews that I listed here are all not in relationships with Jews (Isla Fisher became pregnant with Cohen’s child while still a gentile and converted before their wedding). Hmmm…This is not the time or place for me to discuss intermarriage; as a young woman, seeing Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever” did a lot for me in understanding the complexities of racial, ethnic, and religious relationships. So maybe go rent that.
This is also not the time nor place for me to discuss social conservatism or the wrath of Facebook fans who are quick to judge me for assuming I was judging Ms. Portman. I wish Natalie a beautiful pregnancy, an empowering and smooth labor, and a fantastic wedding (I assume she will not be visibly pregnant at her nuptials, and who can blame her? I was the size of a small fishing village in both of my pregnancies).
Natalie Portman’s children will be Jewish by halachic law, an if it’s a boy, I will be the first to try and find out if there is a bris. And if it’s a girl, will she do a Brit Bat/naming? I would kvell!
No matter what, I will say a “Mazel Tov” to my Jewish relative Natalie Portman (if thousands of years distant) for being part of an amazing generation of Jews to succeed in America despite an historical past rife with challenges. And I am happy to bring over a freshly-baked vegan challah (she’s vegan like me!) for your first Shabbos post-baby. Isn’t that what family’s for?
**If you find yourself wrapped up in the Natalie Portman baby craze, check out Raising Kvell’s Name Natalie Portman’s Baby Contest and start brainstorming names today!**