Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Nathan celebrates after breaking the school record for the 3,200 meter race. Used with permission from Nathan Szubin.
Student breaks school record in track race
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 21, 2024

When junior Nathan Szubin stepped up to the line of the 3,200 meter race in the Johns Hopkins Invitational Meet on April 19, he had a different...

Arditi Zarouk (second from left) celebrates the 50-year anniversary of Perach with her team at the residence of Israeli President Herzog. Used with permission from Arditi Zarouk.
Former students and staff readjust to Israel in the wake of war
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 19, 2024

The Israeli embassy and military send over emissaries every year, and many of these families choose to send their kids to CESJDS. When they go...

A day of matzo meals
A day of matzo meals
Sophie Schwartz, Opinion Editor • April 18, 2024

Many people dread Pesach time, when their beloved chametz (leaven) is replaced with dry, brittle matzo. However, if presented well, matzo does...

Junior Evan Klepper gets ready for his WIS opponent to serve
Lions tennis fall short to WIS
Isaiah Segal-Geetter, Reporter • April 18, 2024

“Twenty four on 3, Mashiach on 6,” junior and tennis captain Evan Klepper said to the varsity boys tennis team before their match against...

Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Jonah Mitre, Reporter • April 17, 2024

To put their learning from government class into perspective, eighth grade students visited Capitol Hill on April 10 for a field trip. Throughout...

At the college fair on April 7, Pitzer College representatives boasted about their Students Justice for Palestine (SJP) club to a Jewish student.
Opinion: Colleges need to support Zionist students
Stella Muzin, Editor-in-Chief • April 16, 2024

On April 7, I attended the Washington Area Independent Schools College Fair, which was co-sponsored by CESJDS along with other schools from the...

Finding the middle ground: media should not just show the extreme sides of Judaism

Sophie Schwartz
“Shtisel” and “You are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” are just two examples of the extremist portrayal of Jewish people, in the media.

When I learned about the movie “You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah, I was excited to see a movie that would portray modern Judaism that is in tune with the religion but also part of modern society; my kind of Judaism. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations. 

Time and time again I have noticed that the only types of Judaism portrayed in pop culture are either Haredi Judaism or reform Judaism. This leaves out the Judaism that I see everyday, full of people with great knowledge about the religion but who are still involved in modern society.

According to CESJDS Jewish history teacher and Director of the Center for Excellence and Engagement in Jewish history Rachel Bergstein, productions that focus on very religious Judaism are often produced because viewers are enticed by the notoriety of this world. These shows and movies also often portray the communities to be very harsh towards their members.

This is an example of where  extremism is very harmful to the community. Because this portrays Haredi Jews in such a negative light it can make people think that all of them live the same way and have the same beliefs. With less extremity more nuance and diversity can be shown.

On the other side of the spectrum I have seen many shows where Jews are just casted to check the diversity box. In Marvel’s “Moon Knight,” for example, Marvel publicized before the release of the movie that they would have a Jewish character. However, the character ended up giving only one mention that he was Jewish and it felt as if that part of their personality was added in as an afterthought. This made it seem like Judaism was only a very small part of this character’s identity and something solely placed there so that the show could have a diverse character. 

According to the Avi Chai Foundation, of around 1.3 million Jewish children in America, 325,000 of them are enrolled in Jewish schools and 93,000 of them are in fully dual curriculum schools. This means that many of the Jewish children in America who care deeply about the religion while still being part of the secular world are getting very little representation.

It should not be a case that so many Jews have such little representation. If the people who are the most familiar with modern Judaism are not given the access to share their experiences with the world, these two extremes of how Jews are viewed will just continue to perpetuate. Extremism is harmful because it only allows for two options of what Judaism can be; it doesn’t allow for the vast plurality of the religion.

In the long run, this can cause that divide to grow further. If all someone sees is these two extreme groups, they can feel pressure to change who they are so that they fit into one of these categories. This creates a feedback loop: when these two extremes get pushed more and more in popular culture, it begins to become real.

One solution is for directors to include roles from more Modern Orthodox Jews. Because of the market size it would be difficult to create an entire production based around this type of Judaism but a character or two could pave the way for representation of this group. This could be done by having characters sacrifice different activities or events for their religion or just having them reference it more frequently. 

Most importantly to the modern Jewish community, it can be upsetting to not get representation of our community. If I never see people like me in popular culture then it can be difficult to stand up for things I believe in. Even if the market is smaller a greater effort should be put in to include this type of Judaism in popular culture.

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About the Contributors
Sophie Schwartz
Sophie Schwartz, Opinion Editor
Sophie is excited to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale this year as an opinion editor. She is looking forward to helping the new staff and designing creative spreads. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Sophie plays on the JDS Girls Tennis team, is a team leader for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and participates in the STARS program and the AJC teen initiative. In addition, she loves playing with her dog, cooking, going to the beach, and hanging out with her family and friends. She can’t wait to work with her co-editor to produce an amazing opinion section.  

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