Friday, November 27, 2015

Adam Sandler's New Hanukkah Song Could Include Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor

Adam Sandler's much awaited fourth installment of his wildly popular "The Hanukkah Song" was released the other day and it might be his funniest and most creative song about famous Jews yet. Sandler's production company Happy Madison released the music video of "The Hanukkah Song" on Wednesday and it is a recording of a live performance at the San Diego Civic Theatre on November 18th when he first sang the new version.

In this latest iteration of his celebrity infused Hanukkah song, Sandler includes such celebrities as Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who enjoys eating kugel), Stan Lee, Jake Gyllenhaal, Adam Levine, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ben and Jerry (Ice Cream Magnates), Scarlett Johansson, Shia LaBeouf and even Jared Fogle from the Subway commercials (whom he recommends Dr. Drew can help). The video quickly made its way around the Interwebs as fans shared the YouTube video on Facebook.

Two deceased celebs whom Adam Sandler didn't include in this rendition of "The Hanukkah Song," but could have are Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. I had long heard rumors that both iconic women had converted to Judaism, but I never confirmed it. Sure enough Marilyn Monroe converted with a Reform rabbi before she married Arthur Miller and Elizabeth Taylor converted in 1959 before marrying husband #4 Eddie Fisher. It turns out that Liz Taylor's 3rd husband, Michael Todd, was the son of an Orthodox rabbi, but Taylor only converted after Todd was killed in a plane crash and she was set to marry Fisher.

I only learned about Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor's conversions to Judaism this week after I was called by Lauren Markoe, a reporter with Religion News Service, asking me for a few comments on the matter. It turns out that the Jewish Museum in New York (under the auspices of The Jewish Theological Seminary) has a new exhibit about the conversions of the two famous women. In the RNS article, Markoe writes, "Collecting letters from their rabbis, images from their Jewish weddings, and a rarely-heard audio recording of Taylor’s conversion ceremony, “Becoming Jewish,” documents the relatively quiet way in which Monroe and Taylor adopted the faith, and what that said about the America that loved them."

What I found interesting was that a generation ago, Hollywood celebs the likes of Monroe and Taylor could convert to Judaism without any fanfare or being cover stories in the tabloids. As I told Markoe, "I wonder how private Monroe and Taylor could have kept their faith lives had they converted today, given the non-stop stream of news on the famous. Recently actress Drew Barrymore has hinted that she might become Jewish and just mentioning that she’s considering it — it already makes headlines."

The exhibit "Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn" opened in late September and continues through February 7, 2016 at the Jewish Museum on Manhattan's Upper East Side. In addition to focusing on Taylor and Monroe's conversion to Judaism, it also explores Andy Warhol’s fascination with the two women. The exhibit's description states, "Warhol's epochal paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960s coincided with the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood and an upsurge in consumer culture. Jewish consciousness and openly Jewish celebrity were also on the rise. The fact that Hollywood’s blonde bombshell and violet-eyed siren were both converted Jews was significant: it signaled a growing popular acceptance of Jewish public figures."

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