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Dec 31 2010

Black Swan, Jewish Spawn

By at 9:15 am

Natalie Portman and her beau, Monsieur Millepied

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!**

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

8 Responses to Black Swan, Jewish Spawn

  1. Allison says:

    I had always hoped for a Natalie Portman – Zach Braff chuppah wedding :( so disappointed!

  2. Cat Harper says:

    I have to agree with you…on all counts. I don’t think she got pregnant to be “fashionable” fact it may have been an unplanned pregnancy. However, she and the father seem overjoyed at the impending birth and I can only express happiness over that. A welcomed baby is a joyous thing in my eyes, no matter what the marital status.

  3. Julie Wiener says:

    Dear Mayim,

    I just blogged about you and Natalie Portman (and intermarriage!) in the same post — you may want to check it out!


  4. Jean Thomure says:

    How many instances does the Bible give of pregnancy before marriage? David, right? He suffered for that sin, yes, children, sin.
    Premature pregnancy has been around for a long time. Doesn’t make it right. Just means lust prevailed.
    Regardless of who the person is, young eyes see what they do and emulate that behavior when it’s readily accepted as “their right” to do what they want.
    Sets an example because the news media plays it up.
    Doesn’t make it right.
    We need to get back to godly practices and examples. God will judge. The way America is going, seems like He might be in that process right now.

  5. raphael a says:

    As a rabbi’s son, I too share a curiosity as to whether Ms. Portman’s kids will be raised Jewish. And though Ms. Bialik did not share specifics, I gather the flak she received on Facebook was of a postmodern variety; i.e. over the sin of casting judgment or holding anyone to a standard of any kind.

    I stumbled onto this blog via a link on the “20 Most Stylish Jewish Housewives” from another website. The vast majority of whom turn out to be intermarried or products of an intermarriage themselves, and not associated at all as public advocates of things Jewish.
    Put another way, if Katherine Graham is a Jewish housewife, then Dolly Parton is a gangsta rapper.

    Which makes the concern over Natalie Portman’s intermarriage seem puzzling at best.

  6. Woody who? says:

    Ah, the obsession with Woody Allen, everybody’s favorite Jewish version of Stepin Fetchit, continues (well, Stepin, to be fair, was a lot more flattering).

    This despite the fact that, when asked by a New York Times reporter in 2010 whether he should be wishing him a happy (Jewish) new year, Allen replied no, “that’s for your people”.

  7. Brian Biederman says:

    excellent article. Mazel Tov and Good Shabbos. I’ve made Vegan Challah, it’s okay. I’m sure yours is better


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