Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jews of Justice, Superman and Doctor Who

The creative duo of Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster have given North America and most of the world the greatest superhero the comic book industry and the pop culture world have come to know – yes, I’m talking about Superman.

But arguably, for Britain and certainly for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), that honour goes to “The Doctor” of Doctor Who.

Eleven actors have portrayed this quirky member of the superior race known as the Time Lords over 33 seasons and 796 episodes. Doctor Who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running science fiction TV show of all time, as well as the most successful, based on ratings.

Now some people are suggesting that the time-travelling do-gooder, known for solving mysteries and righting wrongs, is also the most compelling Jewish character in the history of television.

Doctor Who was created by Canadian Sydney Newman, who was born in Toronto to poor Russian Jewish immigrants. He dropped out of school in his formative teenage years and enrolled in a technical academy. He eventually became a director and producer, and in 1963, a few months after landing a job with the BBC, he came up with the idea for the show.

Among the reasons this cultural icon is being re-evaluated in a Jewish light is that he’s wildly intelligent and has a thirst for knowledge. He’s also constantly helping those in need and is committed to tikkun olam – repairing the world – while surrounded by a host of warlike races.

Jews, especially our youth, struggle with the question of identity. How closely do I observe the tenets of my religion? Do I outwardly express my beliefs? Do I call myself a Jew in public?

A great revelation is coming this Saturday (May 18) as Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s present show runner and executive producer, resolves two of the greatest mysteries that “Whovians” (Doctor Who followers) have been wrestling with since the conclusion of the current seventh series’ first half and the finale of the sixth: Who is Clara Oswin Oswald, the Doctor’s most recent travelling companion? And, in what could rock the show to its core, we may just find out the answer to the question that must never be asked, the one hidden in plain sight... who is Doctor Who?

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