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Ben Stiller, who played a rabbi in “Keeping the Faith,” is no stranger to Jewish humor.
At last night’s Academy Awards, he slipped in an inside joke that I wonder how many people noticed. Presenting the honors for Best Makeup, Stiller was flamboyantly dressed as a Na’vi alien from the blockbuster movie “Avatar.”
His presentation speech in the Na’vi language was actually a string of jibberish, tongue clicks and familiar phrases blurted out in a funny accent. Anyone unfamiliar with Hebrew would not recognize two of those phrases: “Pesach,” and “Boray Pah-Ree HaGaffen.”
The guttural letter Chet at the end of “Pesach” definitely sounds like it is from another planet. Just not the Alpha Centauri moon of Pandora. (I had to look that up. I haven’t yet seen “Avatar,” but I want to).
What do you think? Is sneaking in the last part of the prayer for wine into the Avatar speech a gesture of Jewish pride? Or does it mock Judaism — or the Na’vi culture for that matter — by inferring that all foreign languages are just jibberish?
I don’t profess to intimately know Ben Stiller’s soul, but I think he meant well.
In fact, given that Avatar takes place in the year 2154, I see it as a positive development that Passover is getting some extraterrestrial airplay. We Jewish educators are obsessed with Jewish continuity, after all.
And although Judaism does not encourage proselytizing, the religion is very welcoming to all who want to learn Torah. No matter what planet you come from.
This is how you can tell who is the Jewish educator’s kid… Dump a crate of blocks on the playroom rug and see what the children come up with.
This Star of David tower was built by my 7-year-old son, Ari. He likes to take pictures of his creations because he hates to put the blocks back in the box and “ruin” his artistic vision. Perhaps the Louvre will call when they set up a religious symbol exhibit.
Or, maybe Ari will eventually pursue Jewish themes with his LEGOs, in the same spirit as this guy who is recreating the Bible in plastic bricks.
These images are from the wickedly clever web site, The Brick Testament:
Artist Brendan Powell Smith, who is not Jewish, also builds scenes from the Christian Bible. Most fascinating to me are the warning labels he slaps on the books of the Bible like the motion picture ratings. There’s N for nudity, V for violence, S for sexual content and C for cursing.
You don’t realize how child unfriendly the Bible actually is until Smith smacks you over the head with it. After all, there is always someone “smiting” someone or sleeping around in those stories.
Although I classify myself as a non-violent person, I love the word “smite” for some reason.
Anyone have any Jewish or Bible-themed block creations in their playroom? Any thoughts on the LEGO version of the Bible — even though the toy company obviously has nothing to do with it?