(above : the Anti-Tebow)
As of this writing, Denver trails New England, 35-7, at halftime in the AFC Divisional Playoff, meaning there’s a good chance the orgy of Tim Tebow coverage will come to a merciful end, at least until next season’s training camp. While some hopped on the anti-Tebow bandwagon in the most predictable of ways, The Highland Park Patch’s Jacob Nelson quizzed panel as to why, in their expert opinions, public figures such as The 24-Year-Old Virgin, Chuck Norris, Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber feel free to give props to (their version of) a higher power, while wondering, “Why don’t famous Jews thank God the way famous Christians do?” I guess Yuri Foreman saying “Happy Hanukkah” doesn’t count.
“Jewish movie stars will go to high holidays, but they won’t advertise it on TV,” Rabbi Michael Sommer of Congregation B’Nai Torah said. “Unless you’re Larry David and you’re poking fun at it.”
What complicates this comparison is that famous Jews like Larry David maintain a culturally Jewish identity while disregarding any religious elements — something that doesn’t happen in Christianity, according to Rabbi Michael Schwab at North Shore Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park.
“You can identify yourself as a Jew and be proud of it … without being overtly connected to the religious side of things,” Schwab said. “That’s a little tougher to do with a Christian identity.”
Rabbi Evan Moffic at Congregation Solel in Highland Park, however, thinks the difference between how Tebow addresses his religion and how people like Larry David or Woody Allen address theirs comes down to intent.
“I think Tim Tebow is doing it as a source of pride,” Moffic said, “Woody Allen and others do it as a way of making jokes.”
Herbert Braunstein, a senior religion professor at Lake Forest College, agrees that Jewish celebrities, like Woody Allen, are more likely to make fun of their roots publicly than give thanks for them. These celebrities, he suggests, offer negative reflections on Jewish life that “comes from a lack of positive orientation of Jews other than bagels and lox.”