NEW YORK (JTA) – Soap opera plots are built more on the selling points of sin than on the healing powers of redemption, but one of the main characters on "The Young and the Restless" is about to do some Jewish-style repentance – just in time for Yom Kippur.
The character, Brad Carlton, who entered the Y&R scene about two decades ago as the gardener to the wealthy Abbott family in the fictional Genoa City, is not what you’d call a saint. He’s a womanizer who worked his way into the social elite in part by marrying a succession of rich women, the first of whom was the insecure Abbott daughter Traci.
But last year the soap dropped a bombshell: The upwardly mobile stud was actually a Hebrew hunk. It turns out that Brad had been hiding his Jewish identity to protect himself and his mother, who had drawn the ire of Nazis because of her work as a Holocaust art restitution investigator.
"For 20 years there was a complete mystery as to Brad’s background," said Don Diamont, the actor who plays Brad, during a phone interview with JTA. "He knew that he was Jewish, but he lived as someone else a long time."
Diamont says that in his mind the character had celebrated some Jewish holidays in secret, but this year Brad will have his first opportunity to celebrate one openly – and he will do so on the show’s Sept. 21 episode.
According to Y&R sources, Brad not only will attend services for Yom Kippur, which falls the day after the show airs on CBS, but will openly ask forgiveness from two characters he has wronged during the past year: his daughter Colleen, played by Tammin Sursok, and Genoa City’s wealthiest man, Victor Newman, played by Eric Braeden.
Here’s why: Colleen, a college student, is dating her former professor, who is offered a job at a Paris museum. Brad manages to nix the deal – and keep his daughter from moving overseas with her scholarly beau – by bribing the museum with a coveted piece of art. Colleen finds out and cuts off communications with her father.
Just before Kol Nidre services, Brad will try to make amends with Colleen, sources say.
"The start of Yom Kippur – for Jews it’s the holiest day of the year," he’ll say. "We fast, consider the wrongs we’ve done and try to make amends."
Brad tells Colleen that he wants to have her by his side on the first Yom Kippur he can attend in public since his childhood. But will Colleen agree?
Things with his soon-to-be ex-father-in-law Victor are a little more complicated. In something of a love octagon involving blackmail, adultery and an attempt to keep Victor’s son Nick – the son of a former stripper, Nikki – off the board of Newman Enterprises, Brad gets Victor’s daughter-in-law, Phyllis, thrown in jail for six years. He also cheated on his wife, Victoria – Victor’s daughter.
So Brad plans to apologize to Victor. But will the mustachioed millionaire accept?
For good Yom Kippur measure, Brad also will ask forgiveness from his lover, Sharon – both are married to other people.
"Jews think Kol Nidre is a mystical time," Brad will tell her. "The gates of heaven are still open. You can repent to the Almighty in temple and to people you’ve wronged in person."
Will Sharon buy it?
Brad’s hidden Jewish identity resonates with Diamont, whose birth name is Donald Feinberg. The actor grew up in Los Angeles as a secular and unaffiliated Jew, and only had a bar mitzvah in his early 20s after his father died and his brother, Jack, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. The brothers studied together.
Now 44, he belongs to a Reform synagogue and celebrates some Jewish holidays, including Chanukah, with his sons.
Diamont says his fans have responded well to Brad’s Jewish coming-out.
"I know it means a lot to people who watch the show who are Jewish, especially because the character is not stereotypically Jewish," Diamont said. "He’s not an attorney or a bookkeeper. He’s a womanizer and a very physical guy. He was a Navy Seal. He is a force to be reckoned with in every aspect of his character."
Brad has not gone completely soft since his Jewish rebirth. He has killed three people in the past year, though they were Nazis who had come after his mother because of her art restitution work.
Will he do teshuvah for those deeds?
"No," Diamont said. "They deserved it."