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MSNBC Host Ari Melber Makes Seinfeld-Santos Connection

Melber said he was reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry wondered if his dentist “converted to Judaism for the jokes.”
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May 19, 2023
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) speaks with members of the press as he leaves Federal Court on May 10, 2023 in Central Islip, New York. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Ari Melber linked Jerry Seinfeld to a different George.

The host of MSNBC’s “The Beat” gave a nod to “The Yada Yada” which is the 19th episode of Season 9 of “Seinfeld.” In the episode dentist Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston) tells Jerry he has converted to Judaism. Tim jokes that he went to the health club but he only used the sauna, which he called “more like a Jewish work-out.”

“The guy’s Jewish two days he’s already making Jewish jokes,” Jerry tells Elaine.

When Jerry goes to get his cavity filled, Tim jokes: “Did you hear the one about the rabbi and the farmer’s daughter? Those aren’t matzah balls.”

Jerry questions whether he should be making those jokes, but Tim tells him “Jerry, it’s our sense of humor that’s sustained us as a people for 3,000 years.”

Jerry corrects him to say it’s 5,000 years and is annoyed that Tim tells his assistant to get him a “shtickel,” or a bit,” of fluoride.

Jerry tells Elaine he believes the dentist converted to Judaism “just for the jokes” and also complains to a priest, saying he is offended, not as a Jew, but as a comedian.

Melber was interviewing documentarian Blake Zeff, who taped conversations with U.S. Representative George Santos, the New York Republican who has been indicted on 13 counts, including fraud and money laundering. Santos has pleaded not guilty.

On one of the recordings, Santos is heard making derogatory remarks about Jews.

Santos told Zeff “if you sit in a room with a lot of Jews, you’re f—-ed. It’s funny when the ‘isms’ start coming out. Oh, he’s such a mensch. He’s such a mensch  …”  Melber notes that in another conversation, Santos says he doesn’t rule out running for president, but there is some “mishigas” or craziness, regarding ethics concerns.

Listening to the recordings, Melber said he was reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry wondered if his dentist “converted to Judaism for the jokes.”

This is not the first time Santos has made questionable comments about Judaism.  In addition to lying about his education and his career, Santos claimed to be Jewish. When it was pointed out that was not the case, Santos claimed he was misunderstood, he said he was “Jew-ish.” He said grandparents fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine and later during World War II; this was also disproven.

In a December 21, 2022 article in The Forward, Andrew Silverstein reported that Santos had previously said his mother was Jewish, but the Facebook page of his mother, Fatima Alzira Caruso Horta Devolder, revealed shared images of Jesus and no mention of being Jewish. The same article disputed Santos’ claims that his grandmother fled either Ukraine or Belgium.

The Republican Jewish Coalition in December said in a statement that Santos “deceived us and misrepresented his heritage.”

In another odd parallel between Santos and “Seinfeld, ” The New York Times reported that prior to politics, Santos’ had a dog charity that was not registered as a nonprofit or a rescue organization and there were questions regarding funds and the number of rescues.

In “The Strike,” an episode from season 10, George Costanza gave people holiday cards telling them he made a donation in their name to “The Human Fund.” When “The Human Fund” is exposed as a fake, George explains he gave out fake cards because he doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but instead celebrates Festivus. “They drove my family out of Bayside,” George says, referring to the Queens, NY neighborhood.

Santos’ district in New York includes areas of Queens as well as Long Island.

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