This is too much of a coincidence.
Purim is today, and tonight, after the Chabad of Richmond / Richmond Jewish Day School Purim Carnival (@ 5:30 PM) is the first showing of the epic movie Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The mystical kabbalist / fanboy in me sees a parallel, one that binds pop culture and yiddishkeit together.
Purim, with its mega-heroes Mordechai and Esther defeating our arch-enemy Haman the Amalekite. And in the movie (which I have waited to see forever), we have Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman doing battle against Lex Luthor and Doomsday (and who knows else, I’m not one to read the spoilers).
But in all seriousness…
Esther, who was instructed by Mordechai to not reveal her Jewishness, and had to hide her Jewish heritage for those many long years in the palace of the Persian King Achashverosh (Xerxes… featured prominently in another Zack Snyder directed movie, 300… hmmm… the coincidences never end), who risked death to reveal who she was to the King and stop Haman’s plot:
“If I have found favor in your eyes, O king, and if it pleases the king, may my life be given me in my petition and my people in my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish; now had we been sold for slaves and bondswomen, I would have kept silent, for the adversary has no consideration for the king’s loss.”
Failure to reveal her true self, her Jewish self, would have led to the destruction of the Jews of the Persian Empire. She could have kept her background a secret, flown below the radar, at the very least protected family and those close to her and save them from the decree. But she didn’t, and we are here today because of her bravery. There’s a lesson in there for all of us, especially when you consider what it means today to hide aspects of our Jewishness.
Which brings me to the current Wonder Woman du jour, Israeli Gal Gadot, featured prominently in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice:
In this age of BDS, of Israel, our beloved country being bizarrely singled out on the world stage, over and over, it’s easy and natural for so many of us to play nice, be politically correct, downplay our public support of Israel, hide our Israeli flags, IDF t-shirts and magen davids when we are out and about. Maybe we’ll fit in better, most definitely have an easier time on college campuses, be accepted into more progressive circles.
And along comes Gal Gadot, and lands the biggest, highest profile role of her career – the iconic Wonder Woman, never before seen on the big screen. And she could have downplayed her background, to be more marketable on the world stage (I mean, how is the movie even going to play in Qatar, or the UAE?). And yet, nearly every article about her has mentioned her background, her army service, her religion and her nationality – do a Google search of her and you’ll see what I’m saying.
She is a proud Jew and and proud Israeli, at a time when it is impolitic to be either. A perfect example can be found from the following article:
“The 30-year-old’s pride in her IDF service… comes in stark contrast with fellow Israeli model Bar Rafaeli. She notoriously and openly dodged her army service by marrying a family friend in order to continue advancing in her career. Rafaeli has said in the past that she does not regret her choice, adding that ‘it paid off big time…celebrities have other needs.'”
Another example – during the Gaza war in 2014, Gadot posted the following inspiring image of her lighting Shabbat candles with her daughter on social media, praying for peace:
This is a hard world, filled with a lot of scary things, and being Jewish has never been easy, be it in the days of the Persian Empire or the 21st century. And while it is so tempting to sometimes be invisible, and be quiet, our history shows us that being proud and knowledgeable and authentic is often a better way to go.
Be proud of who you are.