Jewish American Playmate

Is a nude Jewish centerfold really a watershed for American Judaism?

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If it only bothers them when Jewish girls do it, then they would have to admit that they really believe there's some kind of moral superiority that Jews possess. And we both know that's offensive. Because no community should propagate itself off of the premise that its members are morally superior simply because they've come from a certain gene pool.

Q: No "Chosen People" here...

No. You can be a Chosen People, but you'd have to really ask what that chosenness means. And if it means some kind of axiomatic or inherent superiority.That kind of chosenness, it's time to end. That kind of Chosen People doctrine emerged precisely because Jews were treated as less than human, because they were Jewish. The coping mechanism was to say back to the world, "You think we're less than human because we're Jewish? Screw you. We're actually more human because we're Jewish."


But now when you live in the world when hopefully we've grown past -- and certainly in America for Jews we have -- that kind of demonization, it's time to ask what does chosenness mean when you're fully equal.

Q: In 1945, Bess Myerson became the first--and only--Jew to be crowned Miss America. During her year as Miss America, Myerson encountered repeated instances of anti-Semitism. Then in 1969, Hollywood cast the non-Jewish Ali MacGraw to play the archetypical Jewish-American-Princess lead in the film adaptation of Phillip Roth's "Goodbye, Columbus." Does Lindsey Vuolo deserve to be a key event on this timeline?

No question that [the November Playboy issue] belongs on this timeline. Just look at the arc in the story it tells. In 1945, the central challenge did have to do with confronting anti-Semitism. And so that story is basically about being able to beat them at their own game. By 1969, we can begin to tell a story about a Jewish American who's beautiful. But she's only beautiful if you can cast a Gentile.which of course is not an accident. It's a Phillip Roth story. Because the whole Phillip Roth-Woody Allen syndrome was about Jewish boys who couldn't imagine Jewish girls who were so beautiful that they wanted to go to bed with them. And then by 2001, you finally have it set up -- it's a full corrective: you have Jewish men who will go home and they'll masturbate to a Jewish girl for a change.

Q: So this is a true watershed for American Judaism?

Absolutely. It forces us to put down all the weird self-loathing about Jewish bodies and all the Woody Allen-Phillip Roth routine about the fact that the Jewish mind of Jewish men, of course, are superior...but it's hot gentile bodies that we want.

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