Jon Stewart a relic of antisemitism? Ron Rosenbaum thinks so.
“Dear Jon Stewart,” he writes in Slate, “I want you to change your name. Back to Leibowitz.” He is referring to Stewart’s birth moniker, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz.
Many of us have stories about how our family names were hacked into Americanized semblances of the original after our ancestors left their old countries. My great-grandfather’s Rosenzweig became Rosen to fit on a New York boxing marquis, or so goes the family lore. Yarrow, my married name, might have once been Yarovetsky outside of Kiev at the turn of the century, but now, nobody knows for sure.
Rosenbaum is looking for high profile Jews, namely Stewart, to “reject the rejection of their ancestry and the WASP-ification of their names.”
Rosenbaum appeals to Stewart’s knack for stripping the pretenses from the personas of celebrities and political big shots on his show, then asks that he turn this strategy on himself by reclaiming his ethnic name. Rosenbaum goes on to say that Stewart asserts his Jewishness in every other discernible way in the name of comedy — his bar mitzvah referencing, bubbe-teasing, occasionally Yiddish-accented joshes pander to tribe members and the seculars alike.
Stewart was named the most trusted man in news in a recent Time magazine poll, though their 9,409-person sample of voters seems too small call Stewart the new Walter Cronkite.
Will Stewart make the switch? Slate has offered him a forum. We’ll keep you posted.