I maxed out on “reality” TV about 12 years ago, when my addiction to the then-new Survivor and its ilk bordered on unseemly. When you’re sneaking out of your law firm job in the evenings to watch “Temptation Island” at someone’s apartment, or cooking elaborate French dishes to serve at your “Joe Millionaire” finale party, (hypothetically speaking, of course) it’s pretty clear that you need help.
But now, I am in love.
Fourteen-year-old Edon Pinchot–an adorable blond Orthodox Jewish boy–is taking the reality competition “America’s Got Talent” by storm with his terrific singing voice and piano playing. He’s now one of 24 semifinalists out of hundreds of contestants, and is being called “the Jewish Justin Bieber” for the soulful clarity of his voice and sweetness of his demeanor.
If you check out any videos of Pinchot, it’s clear that the kid does have talent, to say nothing of extremely pinchable cheeks and an adorable smile. In fact, Pinchot makes my inner bubbe bubble up from the depths of my Jewish mother self. I find myself struggling with an almost irrepressible impulse to cover him with lipsticky kisses and to arrange a marriage between him and Baby G, who is a mere 13 years younger. It could totally work.
But what truly impresses me more than this young boy’s talent and stage presence is his kipa. Pinchot, an Orthodox Jew from Skokie, Illinois, is an unapologetically observant Jew who literally wears his observance on a national stage.
In a telephone interview with The Jewish Channel, Pinchot said “If I was going to do this, I was going to do it with my kipa on.”
“So far everyone’s been really accepting of it,” Pinchot said.
I kvell over young people like Pinchot and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. But I’m not kvelling just because they are Jewish. I’m kvelling mainly because they wear their Judaism–regardless of their different degrees of observance–with happiness and pride.
Both Raisman and Pinchot have stood in spotlights that would be intimidating to adults, let alone young people–and they do so with tremendous dignity and awareness of who they are and where they came from. Raisman paid tribute to the murdered Israeli athletes of Munich 1972 after her gold medal victory. Pinchot, whose vocal victory is hopefully forthcoming, makes a statement every time he takes the piano bench with a yarmulke on his head.
May we be blessed to see more and more talented young Jews who are proud of who they are. Hopefully, we’ll even raise a few of them ourselves.
Speaking of Jewish pride, read why Mayim Bialik is insisting on wearing a mezuzah to the Emmys this year.