The Shmooze

Kathie Lee Gifford's Secret Jewish Ambition

By Anne Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Kathie Lee Gifford

Forget dinner and flowers — Kathie Lee Gifford wants something a little out of the ordinary for her birthday.

The “Today Show” host, who celebrated her 60th birthday on Friday alongiside co-host Hoda Kotb, read out a submission from a 60-year-old viewer who said she was in her senior year of college, graduating in November.

“Would you go back to college if you could?” Gifford asked Kotb.

“No,” the latter replied. “I think that there’s a lot you can learn, but you don’t really have to be in college,”

And then, Gifford dropped the bombshell.

“I want to go to Yeshiva University and become a rabbi,” Gifford, who was born Kathryn Lee Epstein, but is a born-again Christian. “I want to get my Orthodox rabbinical degree… I want to understand what words mean, what all the context is. I’m so fascinated by that stuff.”

As the Times of Israel pointed out, Gifford’s grandfather was a Russian Jew. In 2000, she told Larry King that “my father’s Jewish by birth and by race and blood. My mom was raised Christian, and we were raised in a godly home… We didn’t go to synagogue, but I was raised with many Jewish traditions and raised to be very grateful for my Jewish heritage, and taught all my life that Jesus was Jewish, the disciples were Jewish, Mary Magadalene was Jewish. It was all came — the first pope was Peter. He was Jewish.”

Maybe someone should tell her that Y.U. isn’t the best place for a woman to get ordained as a rabbi


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: yeshiva university, today show, rabbi, kathy lee giffords, jewish

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!
  • 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?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • 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.