October 2, 1997
Seinfeld Borrows a Talmud
By Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer
The Jewish Community Library is used to catering to the literaryneeds of groups of school children, Yiddish scholars and day-schoolteachers. But seldom does it get a call for Talmudic texts to gracethe set of a sitcom. That changed a few weeks ago when librarydirector Abigail Yasgur received a request from the "Seinfeld" artdepartment to borrow a set of the sacred books. The 29-volume redSoncino Talmud filled the bill. The books, borrowed for a week, willappear in an episode scheduled to air next Thursday (Oct. 9) on NBC.
The story line centers around a bar mitzvah to which JerrySeinfeld's friend Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is invited, apparentlyas a kind of token shiksa. The bar mitzvah boy has a crush onher and, since he is now a man, figures he can grab a kiss. After hekisses her, his dad kisses her, and she ends up seeking the rabbi'sadvice on what to do about her rampant "shiksa appeal." The rabbi, inwhose office the books appear, assures her that there's no suchthing.
In the past, the Anti-Defamation League has fielded complaintsabout other "Seinfeld" episodes that Jewish viewers felt traded onwell-worn stereotypes -- including a very high-energy mohel ata bris. But ADL-Los Angeles Associate Director Jerry Shapirodidn't seem too concerned about this one, pointing to episodes thatmake fun of other ethnic groups, the disabled and the elderly. "Ithink everyone is fair game on that show."
If "Seinfeld" or other TV shows have further requests for propsfrom the library, they may have to wait awhile, since the libraryclosed its doors last week in preparation for the Jewish FederationCouncil's move to a new location in November. So far, a new spot forthe library's 30,000-piece collection of books, videos and softwarehasn't been found. "This is a temporary inconvenience, I hope,"Yasgur said. "We'll do whatever we can to maintain visibility in thepublic eye." Maybe they should have the rabbi on "Seinfeld" make apitch for space.