Let’s talk about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. In the long-awaited second season (which opens with a Barbra Streisand song and is finally streaming now on Amazon), Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is trying to navigate being a single mom, her job at B. Altman’s, and her burgeoning stand-up career.
But forget that whole “work-life balance” thing for a minute (… right, moms?). We’re here to talk about a particular moment in the season’s third episode, in which Midge busts out with some biblical Hebrew. In a scene in a church (yes), Midge recites the “Mi Sheberach,” the Jewish prayer for the sick that asks for healing. (There’s a good chance you know the Debbie Friedman’s beautiful version.)
Here’s the story: Midge insists on helping her friend, Mary, plan her wedding. They go to the church, Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, where the ceremony and reception are to be held. There, a priest and a nun speak with the duo a dreary, windowless reception room in the basement — which Midge, to her horror, learns is called the “Punishment Room.”
Midge sets about negotiating for something better. In a ploy for sympathy, she mentions how Bill — Mary’s fiancé — served in Korea, and obliquely alludes to some sort of trauma or injury he endured.
“Mary just told me about Bill,” she says dramatically. “Well, I guess I was the only one not to know.”
“I’d suggest we say a prayer for him now,” Midge tells the priest. “But your prayers and mine, they differ.”
She then breaks into the first line of the Mi Sheberach (Amazon Prime subtitles call it the “Mi Shebeirach, but we’re going to stick with our spelling.)
Mi Sheberach avoteinu: Avraham, Yitzhak, v’Yaakov…
This translates to “May the One who blessed our ancestors: Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
“You’d like a lot of our stuff, Father,” Midge tells the priest after reciting the first line prayer. “We’ve got some real barnburners.”
Just how does this all turn out for Mary? Well, let’s just say that even Catholic priests aren’t immune to a good, old-fashioned Jewish guilt trip.