With 30 years and over 650 episodes, the Fox cartoon “The Simpsons” has become a bedrock institution in our entertainment world. The show makes fun of everything and everyone in America, including, not surprisingly, every aspect of Jewish life. On April 29, we’ll have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the Jewish-Simpsons connection as Mike Reiss, a four-time Emmy-winning writer for “The Simpsons,” speaks as part of the Boston Jewish Arts Collaborative. Mike will share stories about the making of “The Simpsons” and the influence of Jewish culture on the show (tickets and more information are available here).
Mike will have a lot to talk about. For non-fans, way back in the show’s 1991 third season, a central character, Krusty the Clown, was revealed to be Jewish, and the son of a rabbi. In addition to Krusty and his father, Rabbi Krustofski, there are a handful of other consistently Jewish characters. The show’s Jewish content ranges from a mix of one-off Jewish gags to meaningful Jewish parody. But the show goes deeper at times, too. They’ve covered Jewish views of intermarriage, keeping kosher and even once featured the golem, the medieval Jewish monster (portrayed as a Woody Allen-esque nebbish).
One of my favorite examples is a 2014 episode, when Krusty dreams of a Jewish heaven where even Portnoy has no complaints. There are free egg creams at Ebbets Field where the Brooklyn Dodgers play the New York Giants, and at the Oys ‘R’ Us store, a sign says, “The whole store is a complaint department.” Meanwhile, people line up at the Joe Lieberman Presidential Library.
In the universe of “The Simpsons,” Jews and Judaism are surely something to joke about, and also something to think about.
Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
For 20 years, Brian Rosman has maintained The Homer Calendar website at homercalendar.net. The site is a Simpsons-themed guide to counting the Omer, the ritual counting of the days between Passover and Shavuot, and also lovingly tracks Jewish references on “The Simpsons.”
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