Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Stars of David (or My Mother Will Find This Funny)

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On Wednesday, November 15, 2005, the 92nd St. Y, one of the premier cultural institutions of New York, presents a special program titled "Stars of David" — Jason Alexander, Leonard Nimoy and Kyra Sedgwick:  Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish.

Jason Alexander, Leonard Nimoy and Kyra Sedgwick:  Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish.  The "Stars of David," some of America’s most prominent Jews talk about their Jewish identity (or lack of one) and reveal how they became who they are today. Jason Alexander played George Costanza in Seinfeld. Leonard Nimoy, most famous as Mr. Spock in Star Trek, directed Three Men and a Baby and The Good Mother. Kyra Sedgwick is known for her film roles in Born on the Fourth of July and Something to Talk About and stars in TNT’s Closer. Celebrity guests subject to change.

As one of the premier Jewish bloggers in the Blogosphere,  Citizen of the Month was invited to sit down and have a pre-program discussion with the three prominent Jewish celebrities.

Neil:  Hello, all.

Leonard, Jason, and Kyra:  Hello, Neilochka.

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Neil:  Let me start with you, Leonard.  What was it like playing Spock, the only Jew on the Starship Enterprise?

Leonard:  Spock was a Vulcan, not Jewish.

Neil:  I always heard that the Vulcan hand sign was a Jewish thing?

Leonard:  It’s actually based on a special priestly blessing gesture I once say in temple with my father…

Neil:  Interesting.  So, what was it like being the only Jewish actor on the set?

Leonard:  Actually, William Shatner is Jewish.  Every year on Passover, I throw this celebrity seder and…

Neil:  Is Chekhov Jewish?

Leonard:  Yes, Walter Koening is…

Neil:  Thank God he wasn’t a Russian Russian.  They’re a bunch of anti-Semites. 

Leonard:  Walter is not really…

Neil:  I was wondering about this recently — do you think there will be anti-Semitism in space?  Wherever we go, there always seems to be.  With our luck, the Jews will be blamed for every meteor shower.

Leonard:  I don’t know, but like I was saying, every Passover at my celebrity seder, Bill and I…

Neil:  Bill doesn’t really use Priceline, does he?  Because it just feeds into that "Jews are cheap" thing.

Jason:  Excuse me, Neil, if I can step in for a sec.   I really think we should focus more on the positive issues of Jewish identity.

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Neil:  Yes, yes, thank you, Jason.  Actually, I was always wondering, was George Costanza Jewish?

Jason:  Well, Larry and Jerry never really specified…

Neil:  But they’re both Jewish, right?

Jason:  Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld are both Jewish, yes.

Neil:  So, why didn’t they specify that George was Jewish?

Jason:  I think NBC was too worried that the show was too Jewish.

Neil:  I see.  I guess Jerry was Jewish.  And Elaine was Jewish.

Jason:  No, Elaine was Catholic.

Neil:  Yeah, right.  Elaine was like totally Jewish.

Jason:  In the show, she was supposed to be Catholic.

Neil:  Sure.  But you know and I know that she was really Jewish.   (to Leonard)  Just like we all know that Sulu was always gay.  Right, Leonard?  You could see it in the way he held his phaser.

Leonard:  Actually, I didn’t know about him.  But I have this very funny story where one Passover, George Takei came over to my celebrity seder and he never had gefilte fish before and…

Jason:  I throw a celebrity seder, too.  A lot of Jerry’s friends come over.  Comedians.  You should hear Bob Saget read the Four Questions!  Kyra, you were once at my celebrity seder, right?

Kyra:  Yes, I was, Jason.  It was a wonderful celebrity seder.

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Neil:  Kyra, I had no idea you were Jewish.

Kyra:  I am.

Neil:  You have one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood.  But remind me again, what have you been in?

Kyra:  I’ve been in many films, including…

Neil:  But basically, you’ve most famous for being Kevin Bacon’s wife?

Kyra:  Well, maybe is some circles, but I’ve also…

Neil:  Don’t you find it ironic that someone Jewish marries someone named Bacon?

Kyra:  I think that comment is a little rude.  Kevin deeply respects the Jewish people.

Jason:  Kevin attended my celebrity seder, also.

Leonard:  Your little shindig sounds very nice, Jason, but my celebrity seder recently got a write-up in Los Angeles magazine where they called it the A-list celebrity seder.

Jason starts laughing.

Leonard:  What’s so funny?

Jason:  I’m sorry, Leonard, but George Hamilton is just not A-list any more.

Leonard:  Listen, shmendrick, how kosher are those KFC drumsticks you hawk?

Jason:  At least I’m not a pervert.  I’ve seen those sick photos you call art of naked Jewish women wearing prayer shawls.

Leonard:  My photos have been displayed in museums, you shlemazel! 

Jason:  Do you know who you’re talking to?  I’m friends with Jerry Seinfeld!  Jerry Seinfeld!

Leonard:  Like I’m scared of your scrawny nebbish friend.  And, by the way, how many failed sitcoms are you going to be in before you realize that you’ll always be George Costanza.  And he wasn’t even Jewish!

Jason and Leonard stand, ready for a fight.  Kyra runs in between them.

Kyra:  Men!  Men!  Please!  We’re all mishpocha here!

Jason:  How would you like a Vulcan hand sign in your eyes, Nimoy?

Leonard:  Your last sitcom was awful, you little pisher!  Awful!

Jason:  I spit on you, you alter kakher.  I spit on your celebrity seder!

Leonard picks up a chair, threatening Jason.

Leonard:  I’m going to break your head in half, like the afikomen!

Jason:  (in Galican Yiddish)  Sie haut gevain a courva in de momma’ s bouch.

Leonard: (in Lithuanian Yiddish)  Shainera menchen haut me gelicht in drert.

Jason wrestles Leonard to the ground and they start fighting.  Kyra runs away screaming.

Kyra:  Kevin, Kevin, help me.  A farbisener and a kvetch.  Get me away from these crazy Jews! 

Neil:  (to you, my dear readers)  Remember  —  Wednesday, November 15, 2005, the 92nd St. Y — "Stars of David" — Jason Alexander, Leonard Nimoy and Kyra Sedgwick:  Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish.

69 Comments

  1. I remember last year when I went to Nimoy’s seder. He had the fish cut to look like Spock ears. I guess he thought it was funny, because he kept pointing it out to everyone and laughing hysterically. Every time. I swear, that man left his sense of humor on his Vulcan homeworld thirty years ago.

  2. Neil Hon,

    This should be a script or comedy sketch, not a blog. Get your tushie out there and sell it!!!

    I loved it by the by.

  3. Hilarious.That’s one fight I’d pay to see.

    Ted.

  4. I couldn’t stand “George Constanza” … and I realize that’s a very lame comment, but it’s all I can think. I hated that character…

  5. leonard nimoy’s sister belonged to cancer care and hadassah with me and all she talked about was her rich brother and how wonderful was his passover seders, so everything that goes around comes around, whatever that means.

  6. OMG Alecia, you hate George Costanza?!??!?! I totally love him. His character is based off of Larry David, I was actually going to write about how I have so many George Costanza moments. Larry David is a comic genius and George Costanza is a great character, my favorite on the show to be exact.

    Neil, Great Post, yet again. 🙂 You never cease to amaze me and how you come up with this stuff. I even had a conspiracy theory that you were Larry David ;). You’re fuckin’ hilarious Neil.

  7. Neil, du bist a klug Yid; du bist a shreiber mit a bissel shmaltz…but I’m lovin’ it. (find someone to translate this German/Yiddish)

    Could you imagine some of these celebrity seders: Melissa Manchester singing “Chad Gadya” solo; Fran Drescher — nasally Fran — doing “Ma Nishtana”; Bob Blumer serving up some matzo ball/leek/chicken soup…and Neil Kramer sitting quietly in the corner, taking notes for his Pesach post!

  8. “Neil: Don’t you find it ironic that someone Jewish marries someone named Bacon?”
    My patient is wondering why his doctor is cracking up in her office! That is PRICELESS.
    Namaste.
    ~HDJ

  9. I’m with McCoy on this one — Bacon and Kyra is hilarious. Had no idea she was jewish — I assumed she was shiksa like me. Love love love this.

  10. Neil,
    Why do you keep doing this to me huh? Damn I am embarrasing myself again laughing at this shite. I swear you are a little meshugganah. Bacon and Kyra was priceless I’ll laugh at that on my death bed.

    Genius. Absolutely Genius

  11. I agree with Tovah, Neil, the Bacon bits are great, as is the rest of it.

  12. Absolutely brilliant interview, Neil. You asked the hard-hitting questions that we’ve all been dying to hear. My god, that Nimoy has an ego – it’s almost unbearable!

  13. I wish Shatner was there so he could explain winning two Emmy’s

  14. Mom, you know Leonard Nimoy’s sister from Hadassah? That’s funny in itself!

    By the way, Leonard, I do like your photos! Beautiful, if not a little weird.

  15. Don’t you find it ironic that someone Jewish marries someone named Bacon?- best line, hands down. Hee hee.

    Great post Neil!

  16. Please tell me why you’re not on the A-list again? Stephanie Klien has nothing on you. Nothing.

  17. Yeah, the bacon thing was good.

  18. Neil, how can I wangle an invitation to one of those celebrity seders? I could bring the chicken soup.

  19. Oh, Neil, get on a plane to NYC and go. Of course, it will not, in reality, be half as entertaining, as what happened in your imagination.

    You are fricking hilarious.

  20. Thanks for the giggle this morning, Neil. Absolutely hilarious!

  21. I should send this to my dad – he recently declared that he’s “part Jewish” (see: living with his Jewish girlfriend) and didn’t seem to understand when I said, “I don’t think that’s how it works…”

  22. Oh…my…God. I’m crying from laughing so hard and the tears are falling into the crevices of my keyboard. This is too good.

    Oy, those Leonard Nimoy photos, who knew? I used to be in a Jewish study group with him led by this great woman rabbi. One year we went to her high holiday services and sitting behind me was Jerry Seinfeld (just before he became super famous) and Sandra Bernhard who sang all of the prayers loudly into my ear (I loved it!).

    Kyra Sedgwick a Jewess? I’ve always LOVED her but I thought she was the quintessential shiksa. But she was great as the Jewish lesbian in love with Julianna Marguilies in the movie “What’s Cooking?”

  23. Very funny, Neil 🙂

  24. This has to be my favorite post hands down. By the way, RM, I had always heard that Kramer’s character was based on Larry David, not Costanza’s…maybe I was misled.

    Bacon marries a jew …toooo funny

  25. Good ol’ Leonard trying to get a word in edgewise… awesome.

  26. Another good one from the premier Jewish blogger in the Blogosphere. 🙂

  27. Hey Neil for my site how about “Fried Chicken and Matzo ball soup”?
    Teehee

  28. Could have warned about the obese naked people at Mister Nimdy’s. Praying Naked Robe types I could have handled, but now breakfast is over before it began.

  29. You mean that didn’t actually happen? I could totally see it all in my mind’s eye!!! 🙂

  30. Neil, what’s a shmendrick? Should I be offended that it rhymes with my last name?

  31. Boxen, the Merry Flesh society is the only truly pleasant series there is, especially the “Dance” and “Three Graces”. They stand on their own despite the pretence.
    The rest is so phony, narcissistic, uninspired and dirty(in a bad way), I’m not surprised “they have been displayed in the museums”.

  32. Priceless, Neil, just priceless – LOL

  33. I never saw any of you at Nimoy’s seder. Must have been off in search of. Nimoy is a nice guy, used to listen to him read Torah years ago.

    BTW, as one of the premier Jewish bloggers in the blogosphere let me remind you that your check for the building fund is over due as is your contribution to the Israel bonds drive.

    Such an example you set.

  34. I love your interview style. You have absolutely no interest whatsoever in what the interviewee has to say. Let’s face it, they rarely have anything interesting to say anyway.

  35. Thank God he wasn’t a Russian Russian. They’re a bunch of anti-Semites.
    Such a Russian Jewish thing to write. Made me smile.

  36. I’ve been hosting my own seder for about 8 years now, and I have yet to have a single celebrity attend. But now that I’ve read this enlightening post, I’ve decided that even if I ever become famous (I don’t really want to be, but I’ll take the money that comes WITH the fame), I will try to make sure as few celebs come as possible. Of course that would probably be none, since how could it not be possible to keep celebs out? Thanks!

  37. ha…oy, that bacon comment was a hoot.

  38. That was great!
    This, what you got here, this is talent.
    (That sentence works best said slightly under your breath with a Yiddish accent).

  39. You know, seders sound like so much fun maybe I should throw one, but I dont think anyone would be interested in going to an Irish Catholic seder, except for guys looking for free beer.

  40. Akaky, if it’s an Irish Catholic seder, along with the beer, there might be communion wafers. I figure those take the place of matzah!

    It’s probably only celebrity seders that could be fun; other times they’re long, tedious, with everyone just waiting to drink wine or eat dinner, and mess with Elijah the Prophet’s symbolic cup of wine!

  41. Neil, Oy Gavault. I’m not sure that your mother thinks this is funny but I sure do. You know what? You’re like the Larry David of the blogosphere! Not the Seinfeld because that would be a little too much but you’re definately close to the Larry Davis of the blogoshpere. I hate to sound like a moyshe pupik but I think that I am the premier Jewish Blogger, you schmuck.

    Shalom.

  42. Oh, Neil, just think—one day, yours will be the celebrity seder mocked in some little pisher’s slog*…

    *satellite+blog. (Well, it will be the future!)

  43. I hate to sound like a moyshe pupik but I think that I am the premier Jewish Blogger,

    Just what we all need, a group of Yids arguing about who is the premier Jewish blogger.

  44. Gentlemen, I wrote “one of the premier Jewish bloggers,” leaving the door open for all of us. And frankly, I’ve been trying to be a little like Kyra Sedgwick and keeping my Jewish background hidden from my readers so I can obtain the widest audience possible. I also don’t want readers of other religions and faiths to feel left out at this “general interest” blog. So, as a service to my multi-denominational readers, please return soon when I tell the funny story about the Pope, the Mormon, and the plate of halal meat.

  45. “keeping my Jewish background hidden from my readers”???

    After reading your column for the last several months, I think I’m now completely Jewish. It’s amazing. And I went to church last Sunday. Or last month, I guess.

    Really, it’s more like being a Protestant with a Costanza attitude.

    Anyway, so, you’re Jewish, huh? Doesn’t that beat all?

  46. Could be worse, JJ; I thought that sitting Shiva thing had something to do with Hinduism at first. Imagine my surprise!

  47. Were there any Roman Catholics in the original Star Trek? Just wondering because I’m think there may have been in The Next Generation. I’m sure I heard Patrick Stewart speaking Latin to aliens on one episode.

    Not sure about Seinfeld though. Maybe the Soup Nazi? Was he RC?

  48. How can NBC be worried about them being too Jewish? Aren’t Will and Grace both Jewish?

  49. Grace is Jewish. Will is an “uptight Protestant.” Yeah, right.

  50. I’m waiting for the new NBC show Will and David, where both characters are Jewish and gay. Now that would be different.

  51. I like Will and David. hahaha
    ‘Just Jack!!”

  52. I wasn’t being literal with my comment – I was actually joking . . . I think I need to learn how to use my words. 😉

  53. Elaine Catholic??? No way. I don’t know any Catholics that use Yiddish on a regular – or even occasional basis. And single Catholic females usually don’t hang out will all Jews becuase – hello! – they’re looking for a nice Catholic boy to marry. Kramer was more of a former Catholic schoolboy gone awry!

  54. […]Citizen of the Month wonders what the 92nd St. Y’s upcoming Stars of David Panel will look like.[…]

  55. Jason Alexander? Hmmm..shouldn’t he be busy sitting shiva for his dead career?

  56. The autograph from Jason Alexander was a nice touch.

  57. The Jewish marrying Bacon line was pure genuis!

  58. I don’t think there’s enough Jewish on the web. That’s the problem with the internet. Not enough Jews. Thanks for doing your part. I know I’m doing mine.

  59. Lon,

    Just what we need, more of us. 🙂

  60. George Costanza was Jewish? Are you saying you want a piece of me???

  61. definition of Chutzpah

    A Jewish man is standing trial for murdering his parents – he asks for mercy from the jury because he’s an orphan

  62. Hi,
    I loved the part in the book about Fran Drescher. I wish you interviewed Linda Lavin. Fran is incredible and The Nanny proved just how funny and fattening Jewish life could be. One question I have, is Fred Savage Jewish?

    Thanks,
    Phil
    Jewish in Margate

  63. Uh, Phil, I never wrote a book, but if I do, I’ll find the lowdown on Fred Savage.

  64. This is hilarious. Its making a sexy senior citizen’s day, who happens to be very tired, feel great. A great picker upper. This should be a comedy skit as someone said.
    Judy K

  65. I loved the little nimoy alexander shtick. What do you produce? My wife is planning a romantic comedy film festival in miami. Do you know producers of romantic movies?

  66. “I really think we should focus more on the positive issues of Jewish identity.”

    Enter George Costanza

    LMAO

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