What is it with rabbis and superheroes? First, there was Rabbi Simcha Weinstein’s “Up Up and Oy Vey!: How Jewish History Culture and Values Shaped The Comic Book Superhero.” Now, the New Jersey Jewish News tells us about Batman aficionado Rabbi Cary Friedman and his book, “Wisdom from the Batcave: How to Live a Super Heroic Life.”
Profiling the Caped Crusader-consumed cleric, the newspaper writes:
Friedman… doesn’t use Batman to preach, but he also doesn’t shy away from maintaining that the universal messages and lessons conveyed by the superhero’s exploits have decidedly Jewish origins. That doesn’t mean he’s targeting only Jews. Far from it; he believes the Batman ethos cuts across the entire spectrum of humanity.
“I’m careful not to buttonhole any of this,” says Friedman. “There really are many universal values that anyone can appreciate. I didn’t write this only, or specifically, for Jews.”
But it’s no coincidence, he says, that Batman’s creators — and, in fact, the creators of many of the superheroes — were Jews. While researching his book, Friedman met with assistants to several early Batman writers and was told his approach dovetailed with their vision. “They didn’t have the religious imagery,” says Friedman, “but they shared the values.”
Whether his 95-page tome will transform him into the next Shmuley Boteach isn’t clear just yet. But Friedman doesn’t seem concerned. He doesn’t always wear one of the many Batman kipot he has — “I’m mindful of not becoming a caricature” — and he’s not sure when he’ll dress up again as Batman for Purim, something he used to do regularly.
But he holds onto his memorabilia, still wears his Batman Underoos, and reads the Batman comics — religiously. “There are certain truths common to Batman and Jewish traditions. And if we’re mindful of them, we can change our world, even though we’re just ordinary people.”
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