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Portrait in Jew: Superman



The Golem was created

by Rabbi Loew of Prague

to protect Jews from

Anti-Semite mobs.


Superman was created

by two nebbishy Yids:

Jerome Siegel & Joe Shuster

to save the world from Hitler.


Origins were awkward:

inspired by Nietzsche

proto-Superman was

an evil mastermind.


That was ‘33 & Hitler’s rise

made the boys remake their

Golem. They endowed him with

the yetzer ha-tov but no


takers for five years. Finally a break:

Action Comics #1, June ‘38.

A man of steel who had time

even to save wives from


abusive mates! Although

a sparkly bland no-ethnic,

a  pintele yid  bled through

his blue hair & magic tights.


Like many Jews back then, he was

a greenhorn: Planet Krypton.

Facing the Khurbn of

an exploding planet


his parents sent their beloved

solo to another sphere.

Think: Kindertransports.

Think Again: Moses in the bulrushes.


Crashed into heartland America

adopted by gentile kindlies, the Kents,

who do an Ellis Island

renaming baby Kal-El


(“El” = God in Hebrew)

into dry white toast Clark Kent

& as the model blended family

the Kents nurture a traumatized “ref”


though he splits in two:

star reporter Clark

& his id-homey Superman.

Clark is the phantasm


of the assimilated Jew.

Pop on some horn rims

& you’re passing the mayo to Jimmy,

Lois, Lana & Perry White.


Superman,though, is a vessel

for Jewish values: do good

for its own sake & authentic

tikkun olam . He suffers


from Jewish loneliness.

No real friends, only pals

from the business like Batman

or Tuesdays with the gang


at the Justice League of America.

He had his own Temple: arctic

Fortress of Solitude, so remote that

only a superman could lift the monster latch.


He mourned his own Zion,

the Bottled City of Kandor,

remnants of a Krypton city

shrunk to Ant Man dimensions.


Superman indulged in

Kabbala-like puzzles,

always managing to snooker

Mr. Mxyptlkyk back


&to the Phantom Zone by

tricking him into saying his

name backwards. And what

do we make of the Bizzaros?


Maybe a returned of the repressed?

Concrete-faced uglies

talking immigrant English

behaving like messugehs?


& I’d bet a ton of green

Kryptonite that Shuster

& Siegel would have

none of this “jewing the text”


By the fifties, the pair’s

bylines were erased from the credits

& they got bupkes for creating

a modern universal archetype.


D.C. Comics owned the franchise

& they were paid piece-work

for their labors, much like their

brothers in the needle trade.


They sued for a pie slice

of the millions made off their

creation, but went broke settling

pennies on the dollar & signing away


their claims to the Mensch of Steel.

Siegel moved to LA &

became a recluse. Shuster

resumed the life of a cartoon salary man.


1978: Superman-the-Movie.

Like twin dybbuks, the duo

emerged from their Phantom Zone

blind, bitter, crippled prophets.


Prophets with lawyers. Lost in Court

but DC did them mildly “right”

-- gave the men each

35,000 a year for life


super-bupkes compared

to the hundred-millions

Superman makes on movies,

licensing fees & other ways


of minting money that

two Yid kids from armpit Cleveland

could not imagine even under

the spell of Red “K”


Hello, Shuster & Siegel

from riverfront Hoboken

where King Kong’s  tramp steamer

began its fated voyage.


You both lived into your

80’s, probably on spite

determined to be finally

paid”, to be heroes


of the comic book universe.

So, what do we leave behind?

What is us, crumbled. The variety

of real, the  unreal things.



3 tishrei 5764 (Fast Of Gedaliah)



Yetzer ha-tov: The urge to do good, as opposed to the urge to do evil, yetzer ha-rav. Jewish tradition states that all humans possess both qualities--though not in equal amounts.


Pintele yid: literally, “little Jew”, that is the quality of Jewishness that exists even in the most assimilated and/or disaffected Jew.


Khurbn: Yiddish for catastrophe, also Yiddish expression for Holocaust/Shoah


Tikkun olam:  healing/mending the world. Origins in Kabbaslistic theology, now common term among Jewish social activists (see Tikkun magazine)


Bupkes: lit. Goat turds, common Yiddish expression equivalent to “chump change” in urban African-American vernacular.


Dybbuks––(yid) folkloric spirits of the dead.