The two Silverman sisters–the comedienne Sarah and Reform rabbi Susan–appeared together at Boston University last night. Rabbi Silverman, who lives in Israel, is an alumnus of the school. The goal of the talk was to increase awareness of, and enrollment in, BU’s Judaic studies program.
Yet despite her popularity, the decision to invite Sarah was not a no-brainer, at least not for Michael Zank, director of The Other Within Program, which sponsored the talk. Zank referred to Sarah as the “self-absorbed poster child of Generation Me,” in the student paper, the Daily Free Press. Yet to attract students, “he said he was faced with three options: having a lecture on Israeli-Palestine [sic], bringing in a Jewish comedian or offering free food. The department opted for comedy.” (For the sake of the students, I hope that they also provided some free nosh.)
Both sisters talked about the difficulties of growing up Jewish in a small New Hampshire town. Proving that funny runs in their family, Susan responded to allegations of Jesus killing not with denials, but with a threat. “If I killed your God,” she said, “just imagine what I could do to you.”
The sisters reported feeling more comfortable once they moved away, Sarah to New York and Susan to Boston.
“I felt like a goat in a sea of . . . dogs,” Sarah joked of life in New Hampshire. “But I moved to New York and there were other goats.”
First, I would assume that goats are more plentiful in New Hampshire than in New York. And secondly, in this equation, are goats a euphemism for Jews? And if so, are dogs a reference to non-Jews? Someone needs to get on the phone to the Christian equivalent of Abe Foxman.