fbpx
Monday, August 3, 2020

The Halacha* of Mayim Bialik

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

*Halacha (noun): set of Jewish religious laws

“It’s my job to be a public person and I get that,” actress Mayim Bialik told a packed crowd at the Barnes & Noble book-signing of her third book, Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular (Penguin), a manifesto, of sorts, for girls going through puberty. Somebody in the audience had just asked her how she dealt with the pressures of fame.

“But,” she continued, “it’s not my job to be super-anything.” (Still, it might be noted that she is donning a superhero cape on the cover of “Girling Up.”)

The actress-comedian-author-neuroscientist-feminist-Zionist is somewhat of an anomaly. “I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a celebrity who wants to be as authentic as I do. Like I literally posted a photo of me holding a toilet bowl brush,” she said, referring to a Facebook post where she’s holding aforementioned toilet bowl accoutrement.

“I posted that because I don’t want to be that celebrity who’s like, ‘I’m supermom!’ I’m not.”

Bialik, a real-life scientist, plays a neurobiologist in what’s being hailed as the most watched show on television today: “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS. But, in a culture downright obsessed with celebrity, she’s the polar opposite of a Kardashian. She wants (and makes a solid effort) to display her humanness, her Jewishness, her flaws.

In some ways, the 41-year-old actress wrote her newest book for herself, although perhaps a younger version of herself. “I think I basically wrote the book that I wish I had when I was in this age range and going through all those changes,” she told the Journal.

Bialik is still going through changes – not to mention a divorce in 2012 to her now ex-husband – but, when undergoing major life events, she turns to Judaism for answers. On Kveller, an online community for moms, grandparents and women, Bialik wrote a post about Rabbinit Alissa Thomas-Newborn of B’nai David-Judea, the first woman to be hired as Orthodox clergy in Los Angeles.

Well, when I was getting divorced, I spoke to male rabbis. I spoke to their wives. I spoke to therapists, and mentors, and other women who had been divorced. But there were questions I longed to ask a woman who was trained in halacha. I needed her then.

“The Big Bang Theory” star said if she weren’t acting, she probably would’ve pursued a rabbinical career. She first became aware of this yearning at the age of 15, she wrote on her website GrokNation. Bialik admits that had her life path been different, she could’ve easily pursued a rabbinical education at Yeshivat Maharat, the first yeshiva to ordain women as Orthodox clergy.  

I am now a PhD-holding divorced woman and a mother of two sons. I support myself and my children by being a full-time actor. My chance to be a rabbi is gone; my life is meant for something different. But I still remember, understand and feel the desire to lead.

“How do you balance your religion with your science?” It’s a question raised time and time again with Bialik. To her, science and religion go hand-in-hand. During the author’s Q&A, it was, inevitably, one of the questions asked. “The snarky answer is: I just do,” she quipped, before delving into the physics of faith. There’s a hint of sermonizing in the way Bialik speaks. As one might expect, there’s science, fact and logic embedded in her diction. And also, there’s something deeply Talmudic. Listen to her full response here (with a gratuitous animation):

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

What This Tisha B’Av Meant for Me

Next Tisha B’Av may be different. We may be commemorating the loss of something much more meaningful.

Why We Should Care How Seth Rogen Went from Jewish Day School to Saying ‘WTF’ to Israel

Rogen is not just an A-list celebrity with a platform and a captive audience. He also is the product of Jewish and Israel education.

Ukraine to Let in at Least 5,000 Uman Pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah Chief Rabbi Says

The quota may rise as high as 8,000, but the pilgrims will have to wear face masks in crowded places and refrain from gatherings of more than 30 people.

The Israel File: Numbers, Graphs and Extras

This post is part of The Israel File, our new Sunday newsletter that summarizes everything you need to know about the last week and...

Nick Cannon Read Bari Weiss’ Book on Anti-Semitism During Tisha B’Av, Calls it ‘Powerful’

"Today is a new day of improving our own words and actions towards clarity and compassion."

A Bipartisan Protest Movement is Rocking Israel and Growing by the Week

As the protests have widened in focus, demonstrators have faced harsh crackdowns by police, who have drawn criticism for using water cannons and tear gas.

Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum Says She Won’t Stand for Authoritarianism in Portland

When reports emerged of federal agents seizing protesters from the streets of Portland and putting them in unmarked vans, Rosenblum sued to get federal officers off the street.

The Pandemic’s First High Holy Days Season Has Synagogues Wondering: Will People Pay Dues?

Across the country, synagogues are bracing for a significant reduction in revenues.

Seattle’s Only Freestanding, Certified Kosher Restaurant Closes Amid Pandemic Pressure

There are a handful of kosher restaurants in the Seattle suburbs.

Shalhevet Institute Explores Black and Orthodox Jewish Identities

The four panelists were invited to give a constructive rebuke to the Orthodox community for the way that it deals with issues of race.

Culture

Shalhevet Institute Explores Black and Orthodox Jewish Identities

The four panelists were invited to give a constructive rebuke to the Orthodox community for the way that it deals with issues of race.

NY Comedy Club Owner Al Martin on What Stand-Up Will Look Like Post-Pandemic

I want to make sure we can get ready to open. It’s going to be a whole new comedy world.

This Penny Picture Frame Just Makes Cents

Have loose change rolling around in your house? Turn them into an art project!

A Jew’s Brazilian Journey Revived in New Translation of ‘On a Clear April Morning’

Marcos Iolovitch’s “On a Clear April Morning” is an especially exotic version of the Jewish immigrant experience.

Wiley Apologizes for ‘Comments That Were Looked at as Anti-Semitic’

"My comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people."

Latest Articles
Latest

What This Tisha B’Av Meant for Me

Next Tisha B’Av may be different. We may be commemorating the loss of something much more meaningful.

Why We Should Care How Seth Rogen Went from Jewish Day School to Saying ‘WTF’ to Israel

Rogen is not just an A-list celebrity with a platform and a captive audience. He also is the product of Jewish and Israel education.

Ukraine to Let in at Least 5,000 Uman Pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah Chief Rabbi Says

The quota may rise as high as 8,000, but the pilgrims will have to wear face masks in crowded places and refrain from gatherings of more than 30 people.

The Israel File: Numbers, Graphs and Extras

This post is part of The Israel File, our new Sunday newsletter that summarizes everything you need to know about the last week and...

Nick Cannon Read Bari Weiss’ Book on Anti-Semitism During Tisha B’Av, Calls it ‘Powerful’

"Today is a new day of improving our own words and actions towards clarity and compassion."

Hollywood

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

‘Expecting Amy’ Highlights a New Comedy Dynamic of Jewish Mothers Making, Not Being, the Jokes

Jewish moms like Amy Schumer, who were once the material, have become the premier comics of this age.

Podcasts

Pandemic Times Episode 74: A Test of Jewish Resiliency

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday and Friday. Rabbi Nicole Guzik shares her thoughts on "opting in" to communal life during these pandemic times. How do...

Seth Rogen’s in An American Pickle

Esther's already seen "An American Pickle" and Erin is still waiting; until the Bagels are brined and ready to discuss it, they join in...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x