Idol Chatter

How Jewish is Jackie Mason? “As a matzo ball,” says the comedian. “Or kosher salami.” So Jewish, that when Jews for Jesus published a pamphlet suggesting that Mason had accepted Jesus, he let loose with a $2 million lawsuit.

The pamphlet, also known as a broadside, which is still available (but hurry) on this website, features a cartoon image of Mason on the front, and asks, “Jackie Mason… A Jew for Jesus?” Inside, a lesson is built around Jackie Mason’s famously politically incorrect shtik about the differences between Gentiles and Jews, punning egregiously on the titles of the comedians Broadway shows. “There’s one thing [the commission of sin] where there’s no difference between Jews and Gentiles,” the copy reads, causing the cartoon Mason to exclaim, “No difference! There goes my whole show!”

Two million bucks seems a little bit of an overreaction to what appears to be, in the words of Jews for Jesus spokesperson Susan Perlman, “good-natured,” if not to well-written, fun. But anyone walking around Manhattan this summer knows Jews for Jesus proselytizers have been out in force, and it’s difficult to imagine a person more dependent on his Jewish identity for his livelihood than Jackie Mason, unless it’s Ehud Olmert, or a rabbi–which, for the record, Mason is. Ordained at 25 following four generations of tradition in his family, he also became a comedian, his website says, because “somebody in the family had to make a living.”

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