January 19, 2019

Jewish community remembers Sid Caesar

Responding to today’s news about the passing of comedy legend Sid Caesar, Los Angeles community members praised the veteran comic’s ability to win over an audience.

“He was an awfully funny guy,” Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) said, “and an awfully incredible convener of funny guys.”

Feinstein was not the only VBS clergyman to have a soft spot for Caesar.

“He was a great artist – not just a comedian. He made comedy into the highest elevated art,” Cantor Herschel Fox told the Journal.

Fox recalled seeing Caesar perform at a 1996 Hanukkah event in Orange County, where Caesar wowed audiences with his still finely-tuned chops.

“He did improvisational things on the spot. I think he did a wider range of characters and directions than anybody in his time,” Fox said.

Caesar made an impression on stage and off. As seen in the documentary “Lunch,” he was a regular at Factor’s Famous Deli, where he and group of showbiz pals ate lunch every Wednesday.

Caesar, who was born to Jewish immigrants in Yonkers, was 91.

A knack for physicality, as opposed to wordiness, distinguished Caesar from the prototypical Jewish comic.

“It's especially sad to lose Caesar because he's less quotable than most of his fellow comedy gods,” Josh Lambert, academic director of Tent: Encounters with Jewish Culture, told the Journal. “Words can't do justice to the faces he pulled or the gibberish he spouted. 

“But he'll live on forever for those who know where to look: in the traces of Catskills shtick still echoing in contemporary sketch comedy, and in any big comedian who still sells a joke with every muscle in his body,” he said.

Meanwhile, other Caesar fans, including Rabbi David Wolpe, tweeted a shout-out to the funnyman who was known for classic TV shows, “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour.”

“Sad to hear of the passing of the great Sid Caesar. May his memory be a legacy of laughter and blessing,” the Sinai Temple leader said.

Sid was a warm, kind, sweet man who loved his lunch buddies. A true brotherhood,” factors co-owner suzee markowitz said.