The Arty Semite

Rabbi Josy Eisenberg, France's Jewish Media Star

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

At 76, Rabbi Josy Eisenberg is a longtime representative of Judaism for the French public. He is the genial host of the half-hour religious program “La Source de Vie,” broadcast in various formats since 1962, and he helped write the 1973 hit comedy film “The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob,” starring comedian Louis de Funès. In France, Rabbi Jacob is still so popular that in 2008, comedian Patrick Timsit, of Algerian Jewish origin, directed a music stage version complete with a Hasidic rap.

Eisenberg has also published a dozen books of which only one, “The Seven Lights: On the Major Jewish Festivals,” has appeared in English. His latest title from Albin Michel Publishers, “Livres de vie: de la Bible à Albert Cohen” (“Books of Life: from the Bible to Albert Cohen”), surely deserves to be translated, as it features transcripts of his best TV interviews from the 1960s until today. Of these, the most gripping is a chat with the Greek-born Sephardic Jewish novelist Albert Cohen, who discusses his 1972 book, “O vous, frères humains,” (“O fellow human beings”), itself shockingly still untranslated into English, which dwells on a boyhood encounter with antisemitism after Cohen’s family moved to Marseilles.

“Lives de vie” also contains a lively interview with the noted French linguist Claude Hagège, of Tunisian Jewish origin, author of “On the Death and Life of Languages,” and the forthcoming “Adpositions.” Hagège discourses delightfully on Israeli slang words like “Phudnik” (A nudnik with a PhD).

Eisenberg’s book also presents the Nice-born French Jewish comic book author and film director Joann Sfar, author of the popular “The Rabbi’s Cat,” and Ruth Reichelberg, the late literature professor from Bar-Ilan University whose odd study, “Don Quixote: or, the Novel of a Disguised Jew” explores possible Jewish subtexts in Cervantes. To all guests, however unusual, Eisenberg lends an amiably tolerant ear.

Watch the film co-written by Rabbi Josy Eisenberg, ‘The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob’:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Louis de Funès, La Source de Vie, Josy Eisenberg, Joann Sfar, French Television, French Film, France, Film, Don Quixote, Claude Hagège, Cervantes, Albert Cohen, Patrick Timsit, Ruth Reichelberg, TV, Television, The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.