Monday, July 03, 2006

Superman's Jewish origins

"Superman's origin story has obvious parallels to the Old Testament tale of Moses," writes Louis B. Parks in his review of Simcha Weinstein's Up, Up and Oy Vey!:

A loving parent tries to save the life of a child by placing him in a basket—or space capsule—and sending him floating/blasting to safety. Found and adopted into a new family in his new world, Moses/Superman is still guided by the wisdom and counsel of his parent. He lives a double life with a secret identity. Moses eventually leads people from abuse to freedom. Superman rescues people from disasters and crime.
Superman's creators, Jewish immigrant sons Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster, invented the superhero in 1938 Cleveland, Ohio. They never declared Superman was Jewish and their ambiguity was probably intentional. Parks again:

Though they didn't give their hero a specific ethnicity or religion, there are hints at his Jewishness. In some of his earliest stories, Superman sometimes foiled the plans of thinly disguised German Nazis, whose persecution of Jews already was infamous.

Americans may not have noticed, but apparently the Nazis snapped to the implications, quickly blasting the new comic. Weinstein writes that in 1940, Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels denounced Superman as Jewish.

Weinstein also "recounts the Jewish influence on superheroes such as Batman, Captain America, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and X-Men, most of whom were created by Jewish artists."

Click here for the official site of Simcha Weinstein, the comic book rabbi.

--Marshal Zeringue