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Of Brainy Jewish Actresses And Not-So-Charming Rebbetzins

Of Brainy Jewish Actresses And Not-So-Charming Rebbetzins

I’m not a big celebrity watcher, but I wanted to let you all know that I did, in fact, hear that American-Israeli Jewish actress Natalie Portman (nee Hershlag) is engaged. And that her intended, French dancer Benjamin Millepied, is, according to bloggers far more in the know than I, probably not a Member of the Tribe.

So there you have it, another Jewish celeb (and a day school grad to boot) coming over to the dark side.

A charming commenter on Rabbi Jason Miller’s blog has already decreed her a “self-hater.”

And speaking of brainy (Portman is a Harvard alum) American-Jewish actresses who were child stars, are conversant in Hebrew and have ties to the Jewish state: Mayim Bialik, a regular blogger for Kveller, has been writing a fair amount about life in a quasi-interfaith family. That is, when the neuroscience PhD best known for her roles in “Blossom” and “The Big Bang Theory,” as well as her ancestral ties to Israeli poet Hayim Nahman Bialik, is not busy breastfeeding (or pumping for) her 2 ½-year-old son.

Bialik’s husband Michael is a Jew-by-choice with Mormon and Baptist roots, and she recently wrote about celebrating Christmas with his cuisine-challenged (think giant cheese ball) family.

While neither Michael nor Benjamin is Arab, I suspect the more than 27 rebbetzins (rabbis’ wives) of Israel who, earlier this week, issued a truly inspiring plea to Jewish women to avoid romantic entanglements with Arab men, will not be inviting Mayim or Natalie to be honored at fundraising dinners for Lehava, a one-year-old group whose sole purpose, apparently, is to protect Jewish women from Arab men. Their recent letter, according to JTA includes this:

[Arab men] actually know how be polite and act making you believe they really care… but their behavior is only temporary," it said. “As soon as they have in you in their grasp, in their village, under their complete control — everything becomes different. Your life will never be the same, and the attention you sought will be replaced with curses, physical abuse and humiliation.”

Imagine, these Arab men actually know how to be polite. Nazi comparisons are way overused in our cultural discourse, and, granted, I know very little about the trend Lehava claims to address of Jewish Israeli women being lured into Arab village life, but it’s hard not to be reminded of similar warnings directed toward Aryan women in 1930s Germany.

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