Nora Ephron, Don't Ignore Your Judaism

A personal invitation to a great writer.

See More

Comments (22)

(19) Anonymous, July 11, 2012 1:19 AM

Nora Ephron and the Jewish Disconnect

I always found it amazing how prominently Xmas fit into a few of Nora's films. I don't recall a mention or a reference to a Jew or Jewish identity or Israel or the Holocaust in Nora 's films or essays. Although she herself openly identified herself as a Jew, her being Jewish was simply irrelevant. An accident of birth that she was dismissive about. Born in 1941 she came of age in the 50's. No Aishs, Chabad or the Jewish Renaissance even reared a bit of its head at that time. Being a committed Jew was not part of the conversation at that time. It didn't help that her parents brought her up with Christmas trees and sent her to school on the Jewish holidays. In her novel Heartburn, (about her marriage and divorce from Carl Bernstein) she defines the Jewish Prince as a negatve male stereotype. Ultimately, what does she say the secret to a happy marriage?"Marry an Italian". Her third husband is Italian. No doubt, she was a wonderful essayist, screenwriter, and most clearly a generous person with her thoughts and spirit. She had a great tap on the current culture. And yet, when I watch her interviews on You Tube- her interviews- she seems to have such a familar quality. She has seichel, (common sense), she jokes, she is direct yet respectful and kind to her interviewer. Who does she remind of? Oh yes, she is like my sister, my mother, my friends, She is the quintessential Jew,

(18) Yehoshua, May 16, 2011 8:27 PM

Here's another writer who needs to be contacted, and hurry!

Andrew Klavan (see wikipedia) is "one of us" but his education ended when he was Bar Mitzvah'd. Not wishing to leaving God he took the next stupid step for an uninformed jew and converted to Christianity and is now a spokesman for the right (which I also support). I think a bit of Jewish knowledge will do him good.

(17) J LaLone, April 2, 2011 4:40 PM

Nora, how could you not thank God for your humor?

I am sorry Nora does not take advantage of the gift of Judaism. I suppose she is unaware of the beauty, if her parents did not show her what was there for her. And, maybe she married a non-Jew. As a Jew by choice, I can assure her that she would fall in love with her own religion if just looked at it,. She has the advantage I had when I studied in response to a strong calling that I could no longer ignore (it's more complicated, but you haven't the time), and that is the advantage of seeing with the eyes of a child/innocent. I wish I had the cultural background, but then again, I have my own, which makes me a unique Jew. I admit that I like being different. I am not fond of being a cookie cutter anything. Nora's wonderful writing could only get more spectacutar if she became more Jewish, of this I am pretty sure. We all have our own path, I hope her path meets up with ours someday.

(16) SusanE, April 2, 2011 1:31 AM

What Would You Have Her Do?

I watched this interview with Nora Ephron on the Charlie Rose Show. I had never seen her before. She is entirely Jewish without it being overtly talked about. I knew when she first began speaking. Then when the subject of Nora Ephron came up on this post I looked up the interview again. The screenplays and movies she has written, at least the ones I have seen, are also, very Jewish, in a subliminal way. I think she makes a statement for Judaism doing just as she is.

(15) Anonymous, April 1, 2011 2:29 PM

Rabbi very well thought out and articulated - being a late comer to my jewish heritage i fully appreciate your comments and agree with you. hopefully there will be some one or something that will bring her home.

(14) D. Sugar, April 1, 2011 1:46 AM

Women & Jews most unappreciated on this planet.

I feel very sad when I think of all the wonderfully talented people who don't proclaim their pride to the world because they're Jewish. Sometimes I feel it's the obligation of the Jewish hierarchy to tout our superiority in every field of endeavor and to assure our mavericks that the eleventh commandment says'LET THEM EAT BUTTER!"

(13) Helen, March 30, 2011 3:54 PM

Rabbi's comment to Nora Ephron

I believe the Rabbi is correct in inviting Nora to look into her religion and see what she is missing. She doesn't have to go the Orthodox customs/ceremonies, but at least expose herself to a Reform or Conservative Temple on a festive occasion Passover is coming soon and being at a Sedar just migh be the great awakening for her.....good luck and welcome Nora

(12) ilan, March 29, 2011 11:04 PM

the rabbi makes the case for the irreligious

Oy Vey! Why is it that religious people tend to believe they know better than others and if they just got to speak to those whose beliefs differ, they'd be able to change them for the better? Now if a Christian or an atheist were to make a similar plea to a Jew - "don't be stubborn or ignorant, just give us some time to show you how much better your life could be" - this would be considered an offense - outrageous. At the least, it would be greeted with a snicker. I have a better idea: instead of telling people how to live their lives and what should be important to them - mind your own business. Live and let live. Now that's something to think about.

mike, March 31, 2011 10:23 PM


Ilan, Stop telling the Rabbi how to lead his life. Just mind your own business. Oh wait, that's only what he is supposed to do, not what you ... never mind.

ahuva, April 1, 2011 6:14 PM

whats wrong with being open-minded?

Ilan, may i ask, what's wrong with being open minded? Now if Nora is a Jew (which she is) what can be wrong with an invitation to see/experience her birthright as a Jew- her heritage? Being that she never had much of an experience with Judiasm (as she said), the Rabbi is presenting an oppertunity to experience it. Often, with many things in life, if we have never had exposure to something we may miss out on enjoyable things. She has complete right to say "thanks, but no thanks" if that is what she wishes. All I'm saying is that there is no reason to get defensive about it. It's actually a situation (being invited to experience ones Jewish heritage) where you either stay at status-quo or gain, nothing really to lose. And if she WAS an non-Jew, it's a different story, since it would not be her heritage that we're talking about. Not to be re-using and over-using this line, but honestly Ilan "something to think about." Shabbat Shalom ;)

(11) Rachel, March 29, 2011 7:27 PM

Shabbat observance makes it hard for performers

i'm Orthodox and had to give up my fledgling acting career when I became fully observant. People in the entertainment industry need to be available when their audiences are free to be entertained -- especially nights and weekends, including Shabbat and holidays. For those who've "made it", it's understandable (though terribly unfortunate) that they had to give up Jewish observance in order to be available for rehearsals, performances, etc. And before some helpful soul replies "Come home to Eretz Yisrael", that may be feasible for musicians, but for anyone who communicates mostly through speaking (actors, comedians) they aren't likely to find success in a country where they don't speak their native languages. (Lack of Hebrew language skills are the main reason my husband and I have not made aliyah.)

(10) Malka, March 29, 2011 5:54 PM

Dear Rabbi Solomon, in my opinion if you want to reach someone like Nora Efron, the best way would be to call her publisher or go on her blog. In my opinion her statement is an embarrassment to her and to the Jewish People at large. Why are so many famous people of Jewish persuasion to show their pride of being Jewish? I agree with you she could do so much good to all those lost Jewish Souls that read her books, watch her movies, if she would be willing to investigate, study and want to learn about her beautiful amazing heritage. The same goes for those other celebrities that rather marry or associate with non-Jews, like Natalie Portman who just got engaged to a Goy also. It is sad and disgusting. I hope that they don't have wake-up calls when they are getting married to Goyim, that in the end they shouldn't be called in anger a dirty Jew, like a lot of former "famous" people before the Holocaust found out from their spouses, when Hitler Yemachshe mo came to power. How about those Jewish girls who are married to Arabs, Muslim or Christians, what kind of a life they have? Hashem should have Rachamim on them and us, and show all those unaffiliated, intermarried Jews the way home. May we see Shalom in the world and especially in our beautiful Homeland. May we socher to see and witness this Pessach the Geula and a return to Jerusalem with the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash. Malkie

(9) Sheila Calderon, March 29, 2011 5:47 PM

big fan of Nora and love aish

I read everything Nora writes and this year gave exclusively her book (Can't Remember Anything) to everyone in my family and friends. Actually mostly because she is Jewish and also funny. I hope she joins us in the amazing world of learning.

(8) ruth housman, March 29, 2011 4:06 PM

the vehicle of print, and the power of words

I found this commentary interesting. I don't know Nora Ephron's personal beliefs but I have enjoyed the humor in her writing, and that is following a long tradition, actually, of Jewish writers. Perhaps her story did lead her in a direction that was not the affirmation of a deep ad loving heritage, and one that would consciously augment her life and writing, or, her story led her in this direction. We cannot know. I do know we all of us, are deeply informed by story, as we traverse life, and these days I am asking, actually, Who wrote this story? And there is ample evidence on line that we are all of us, co-creating the universe with a Divine Author at the Helm. Of course talking to others about Chelm, about Sholem Aleichem and about our very divine special heritage of writers and a story that does circle those of us who affirm with conscience and consequence, our traditions, a beautiful heritage, well that's worth thinking about. I bet Nora is more Jewish inside than she admits, or is aware of, and that no admittance doesn't always mean, it's not there. I have always considered her writing, and even rebellion, part of our heritage, too.

(7) Rebecca Sostrin, March 29, 2011 4:00 PM

I love to read Nora Ephron's books. I met her year ago at the Brandeis Book and Author Luncheon in Phoenix when she was promoting her book, Hearturn.

I would be honored to meet Nora Ephron one day when I am in N.Y. or L.A. I have experienced many years of having an unappreciative Mother-In-Law and Oh! Have I got material for her! Oy Vey! ...Years ago my Mother passed away - I saw a Grief Counselor - and when she asked my about my Mother-In-Law she said that she had never heard of such ridiculous stories and she added, "And I thought Ihave heard everything! Rebecca, have you ever thought of writing a book? I am completely astonished." So, I do not know if this will ever reach Nora, but I could not resist this opportunity.

(6) WA Ford, March 28, 2011 4:04 PM

She was secular though

There are few if any religious Jewish actors or famous journalist as she is apparently. When this rabbi finds such as person he should interview them and ask how religion plays a role in their career. Why care about the near athieism of partial Jewish people? Adam Sandler is a half observant conservative Jew he is an example.

(5) Sahrah Pock, March 28, 2011 5:53 AM

B" H .....Gum zu l'tovah

Howdy Rabbi Salomon, G-d willing, you won't overlook what good the Nora Ephron quote will do for so many others. I can understand your initial, "Oy gevalt" at reading her words, if she was even quoted directly? The thing that stood out for me listening to your personalized video directed to Ms. Ephron, was that how, she's lives a life following her passion, that she's going to have so much more to write about when she discovers that she is not actually the source of the fountain of her words, she is simply the vessel which carries the water to others. Her attitude just "pales", in comparison to her real potential.

(4) lisa, March 28, 2011 2:23 AM

Nora...where are you??

As usual you are so right......"I Remember Nothing"...Is her newest I guess she forgot something.........her religion!! Yes it would enhance her life & I think it was very brave & bold of you to go out on a limb and direct your video spot to her!!! Hope it works!!!

(3) Alan S., March 27, 2011 8:43 PM

I recently finished Nora Ephron's book I Remember Nothing. It is a fast read and was okay. While early on in the book she does write a bit about her early life and her Jewish family, before you now it, she's talking about her annual Christmas gathering's with friends. From the writings in this book, I was not able to deduce that she knows much about her heritage.

(2) Anonymous, March 27, 2011 2:41 PM

2 million visitors a month

Dear Rabbi, I would like to use your comment about receiving 2 million visitors a month as a launch-pad to say why I think it's doing so well- especially with Jews like me. I attended Jewish day schools and Zionist summer camps, and grew up in a "traditional" but not religious home. Eventually some alienation and distancing as a young adult set in, and now, unexpectedly, I've experienced a hungry return to sites like Aish. I love how Aish covers an array of topics and presents it from beginner to more experienced levels. "Go at your own pace". I love how commentary is invited and opposing viewpoints are published too. "That's intellectually honest." I love how opportunity is provided to connect to related Jewish organizations, if one wants. It enables readers to "walk the walk". I love the array of topics from ancient to contemporary. "It shows how the 2 are connected". I love the accessibility by way of the internet. "I can read Aish anywhere, anytime". I love the short videos by you and Lori. "It brings to life the people behind the scene". I just wish more of the content would wend it's way into the general media. Much thanks and please don't stop. Signed, A Fan

Carol Polcovar, March 29, 2011 5:01 PM


As I recall having a Jewish mother makes one a Jew. It is a destiny not easily shrugged off no matter what level of devotion any particular Jew accepts. Being a Jew carries almost six thousand years of history and DNA. No Jew, artist, writer or truck driver is not affected by this, whether she recognizes it publicly or not. And the public notices this too. So many converted Jews like Marx and D'Israeli were/are seen and identified as Jews. Just a thought.

(1) Ayalah Haas, March 27, 2011 1:16 PM

Calling ALL Jewish Celebrities

What a kiddush Hashem it would be if such Jewish-born entertainment luminaries as Daniel Day-Lewis, James Franco, Jon Stewart, Harrison Ford, Scarlett Johansson and the thousands of other Jewish performers would join Ms. Efron in exploring their amazing Jewish heritage! Rabbi Salomon is 100% right about how profoundly their experiences could influence on their audiences.


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Current Issues Emails

Sign up to our Current Issues Jewsletter.

Our privacy policy