Social media firestorm erupts as Hollywood actor blasts Israel’s need to exist, rips religion as “silly,” claims he was “fed a huge amount of lies” about Israel. Does it matter? Actually, yes.

SethRogen-AmericanPickle

(Washington, D.C.) — Seth Rogen, the Jewish comedian, is promoting his new film, American Pickle, which will premiere on the HBO streaming service on August 6th.

Rogen plays a Jewish character named Herschel Greenbaum, “a struggling laborer who immigrates to America in 1920 with dreams of building a better life for his beloved family,” notes the movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes. “One day, while working at his factory job, he falls into a vat of pickles and is brined for 100 years. The brine preserves him perfectly and when he emerges in present day Brooklyn, he finds that he hasn’t aged a day. But when he seeks out his family, he is troubled to learn that his only surviving relative is his great grandson, Ben Greenbaum (also played by Rogen), a mild-mannered computer coder whom Herschel can’t even begin to understand.” 

In a conversation this week with Marc Maron, a popular Jewish podcaster, Rogen unleashed what one Israeli newspaper called an “online firestorm” by attacking Israel and the Jewish religion.

While covering the controversy, as most Jewish publications have, this week, The Jerusalem Post noted that while Rogen “may have mixed feelings about his connection to Israel and his religious identity, as do many North American Jews,” Rogen’s mother, Sandy, “has no such reservations. She is one of the most beloved Jewish mothers on Twitter, where she has 113,000 followers and describes herself as ‘wife, mama, nana, lucky lady!”

The Post is on to something here — while Rogen certainly went rogue on Israel and Judaism, his sentiments are, unfortunately, far more reflective of American and Canadian Jews views than most people, including most Evangelicals, might understand.

These are not, however, views held by most American Jews.

A 2019 poll published by the American Jewish Committee found that only 38 percent of American Jews strongly agreed with the statement that “caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew.”

The disconnect between the Bible — and the Biblical case for the importance of faith in God and the promises He made to Israel — and the values and beliefs of much of the Jewish community in North America is real, growing and concerning.

When Seth Rogen says, “I don’t understand it at all,” let’s be clear — he is not the only one.

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