October 20, 2018

Seinfeld Borrows a Talmud

On an upcoming “Seinfeld” episode, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) investigates her “shiksa appeal.”

‘Seinfeld’ Borrows a Talmud

By Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer

The Jewish Community Library is used to catering to the literary needs of groups of school children, Yiddish scholars and day-schoolteachers. But seldom does it get a call for Talmudic texts to grace the set of a sitcom. That changed a few weeks ago when library director Abigail Yasgur received a request from the “Seinfeld” art department to borrow a set of the sacred books. The 29-volume red Soncino Talmud filled the bill. The books, borrowed for a week, will appear in an episode scheduled to air next Thursday (Oct. 9) on NBC.

The story line centers around a bar mitzvah to which Jerry Seinfeld’s friend Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is invited, apparently as a kind of token shiksa. The bar mitzvah boy has a crush onher and, since he is now a man, figures he can grab a kiss. After he kisses her, his dad kisses her, and she ends up seeking the rabbi’s advice on what to do about her rampant “shiksa appeal.” The rabbi, in whose office the books appear, assures her that there’s no such thing.

In the past, the Anti-Defamation League has fielded complaints about other “Seinfeld” episodes that Jewish viewers felt traded on well-worn stereotypes — including a very high-energy mohel ata bris. But ADL-Los Angeles Associate Director Jerry Shapiro didn’t seem too concerned about this one, pointing to episodes that make fun of other ethnic groups, the disabled and the elderly. “I think everyone is fair game on that show.”

If “Seinfeld” or other TV shows have further requests for props from the library, they may have to wait awhile, since the library closed its doors last week in preparation for the Jewish Federation Council’s move to a new location in November. So far, a new spot for the library’s 30,000-piece collection of books, videos and software hasn’t been found. “This is a temporary inconvenience, I hope,”Yasgur said. “We’ll do whatever we can to maintain visibility in the public eye.” Maybe they should have the rabbi on “Seinfeld” make a pitch for space.