by Joel Yosef Busner
A Jewish woman aged 81 years old just died peacefully. Let her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion.
I confess, I felt saddened by the announcement of the death this evening (Israel time) of comedian Joan Rivers, born Joan Alexandra Molinsky.
Those of us who I believe rightfully choose to live observant lifestyles in Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) can find a lot to criticize about Joan’s way of life and how she portrayed herself. We can find many, many, subjects about Joan that I whole heartedly believe we should aspire not to emulate.
Although she was obviously very talented and funny, it is also true that much of her comedy routine was laced with tasteless jokes about sex and other unmentionables. I confess that when I saw a glimpse of her completely restructured face from cosmetic surgery, I felt sorry that she deemed it necessary to live such a vain life. It also tempted me to go to You Tube and watch some of her post 2000 comedy routines and compare them to those of the 80’s era on Carson’s Tonight Show. For me and a lot of us nostalgics, less mentioned was often funnier than today’s “anything goes without borders” trash talk.
In her private life she was also very far removed from the traditional Jewish day to day values that many from her generation came from. One could argue that Joan and virtually the entire Jewish born membership of the American entertainment industry live and practice little if any form of authentic or even traditional Judaism. So why do I feel so sad? Why did I sit down to write my feelings about Joan Rivers?
Joan Rivers never stopped being a woman. She didn’t pretend to be a man like today’s version of feminism. She was a woman and she didn’t want affirmative action to advance her career because she was a woman. She worked herself to the bone and proved herself to be one of the great comedians of her day – man or woman.
The big issue that will forever define Joan Rivers that sets her apart from most of the Hollywood Jewish click is that of being a proud Jew, no excuses necessary. I remember her pitching for some Jewish charity in the 70’s when she wasn’t that big a star yet. She used her fame to encourage others to help the Jewish needy of that era. Whether one agrees with the organization(s) she supported is not the issue. Who knows if she was properly informed about the different organizations? We know that she got on TV and and, as a Jewish entertainer, asked the Jewish community at large to support the Jewish needy. She did it as a Jew, no hiding it.
Even though, as I mentioned earlier, her comedy routines lacked Jewish content and often went off the proper Jewish way, Joan Rivers came on that stage and always left that stage perceived by those who loved and hated her as a Jew, and a proud one.
Throughout her career, Joan Rivers was always an outspoken supporter of the State of Israel. It is only fitting that her last major statement on the subject occurred during the recent conflict with Hamas and the Arabs of Gaza. Unlike the cowardly and cowering Israeli politicians and Jewish Establishment types both in Israel and the Diaspora, Joan didn’t flinch when asked about the poor people in Gaza that were killed by the Israeli Army and Air Force. Straight faced and straight forward, she proudly declared how when you start a fight you deserve what you get. They fire rockets and we hit back, period. “Don’t come crying afterwards,” she warned them. She didn’t apologize like a lot of other big name Jews repeatedly do after the press begins its pressure tactics.
Joan Rivers knew that Jewish survival is first, and the rest of the world could take it or leave it, but the Jewish Nation must and will do what is necessary for our survival. If only we had Jewish leaders today with the unabashed pride of Joan Rivers.
Rest in Peace Joan