Even Abraham was a rebel

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Amy Schumer, speaking about her film Trainwreck in April at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Robin Marchant/Getty Images/JTA
Amy Schumer, speaking about her film Trainwreck in April at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
Robin Marchant/Getty Images/JTA

Comedian Amy Schumer’s childhood rabbi has dished up a few tasty, albeit kosher, tidbits about the foul-mouthed funny girl’s childhood, writing a sweet, joke-speckled post about her Hebrew school antics for Religion News Service.

The Trainwreck star, says Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, the former rabbi of the Central Synagogue of Nassau County in Rockville Centre, N.Y., was “a religious school cutup. In this, she follows a noble tradition.”
The good rabbi goes on to note that Abraham himself was a rebel, always asking prodding questions, as was the great thinker Baruch Spinoza, who sat at the back of the classroom and taunted his teachers with jokes.


Salkin also marvels at the fact that his synagogue has produced more than one famous comedian. Schumer’s sister and writing partner, Kim Caramele, stand-up comedian Dave Attell and former Daily Show writer Rory Albanese all attended services, he says.

Schumer, a stand-up artist, writer and actress, catapulted to fame with her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, on which she developed her self-deprecating, tongue-deep-in-cheek brand of feminist humor. The Judd Apatow-directed romantic comedy Trainwreck, which she wrote and stars in, recently hit theaters.

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While Salkin has nothing but warm recollections of the star, writing, “I remember Amy as a sweet, funny kid, who often asked probing and humorous questions in religious school,” other Jewish funny ladies haven’t been so lucky in their rabbinic relations.

Sarah Silverman, the Jewish American Princess of Profanity, was famously called out not for her bawdiness but for the barrenness of her womb in a 2012 open letter by Texas Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt.


“You will soon turn 42 and your destiny, as you stated, will not include children,” Rosenblatt wrote. “You blame it on your depression, saying you don’t want to pass it on to another generation. I find that confusing, coming from someone as perceptive as you are in dissecting flawed arguments. Surely you appreciate being alive and surely, if the wonder of your womb were afflicted with your weaknesses and blessed with your strengths, it would be happy to be alive, too.”

And even golden girls can have problems with religious authority. Five years before her death in 2009, Bea Arthur called in the big guns to battle a group of rabbis from the Orthodox Union in a case against abuse of cattle at a kosher slaughterhouse.

Whatever those rabbis had to say to the beloved silver-haired wisecracker, Arthur’s words got more press — exactly what the animal-rights advocates were counting on. “When Bea Arthur speaks, people do listen,” a PETA spokesperson said at the time.

— JTA News and Features

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