Queen Esther and Superman

A Purim Teaching by Rebecca Shavit-Lonstein

This year, on the 24th of March, is the holiday of Purim. To recap the story of Purim, which is found in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible, a story is told, of a young Jewish woman living in the Persian empire, who is selected by the Persian King to be his bride. The queen never revealed her Jewish identity and when the king’s right-hand man (Haman) wants to destroy all the Jews throughout the empire, Esther reveals she is Jewish and begs the king not to let Haman kill herself and her people.

“Okay,” you say, “great story and I love to eat Hamantaschen cookies, but what does this have to do with Superman?” Well, what is not widely known, is that Superman is Jewish. He was created in the late 1930s by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who were sons of Lithuanian and Dutch Jewish immigrants. Siegel and Shuster were seeking to create an American superhero who could fight the Nazis. Superman came from the planet Krypton and his name was Kal-El, which means in Hebrew, All God. He grew up in a foreign place (Earth) and was given the very American name Clark Kent.

Just like Queen Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, Superman can hide his identity. At times he can be Clark, the nerdy, glasses-wearing, journalist who can fit in with the rest of the American white population and when needed he can be his true self, Superman. Superman was created to reflect the dichotomy of the American Jewish immigrant experience.

Superman and Esther are both living in the diaspora, both are orphaned, existing in dual realities, are separated by their uniqueness (Superman has his strength and Esther her royal position), work within the systems they live in, yet go back to their original identity to save many under their protection.

In Esther’s case, unlike Superman who shifted between his two identities, she guards her secret identity until revealing it to the king, which will help save her people from total destruction.

So, let us remember that Queen Esther had the inner strength of Superman’s external strength to stand up, under pain of death, to save the Jewish people, her people, from total annihilation during the rule of the Persian empire.

Have a joyous Purim!

Are you ready to learn more about Jewish history or Jewish literacy? Sign up for private lessons with  Adventure Judaism’s Educator Rebecca Shavit-Lonstein. She will customize your lessons to your interests, availability, and learning style. Online and in-person lessons are available. Email us for more information at info@adventurerabbi.org or have a look here>>

About Rabbi Jamie Korngold

Check Also

Avodat Lev – Service of the Heart at Bonai Shalom

Bonai Shalom is excited to announce a new monthly alternative Shabbat morning service led by Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder.

Passover In Moab: April 19-21, 2024

A highlight of Adventure Judaism's year is always our Passover in Moab retreat. We hike, eat great food, and make new friends as we celebrate being Jewish outside.

Leave a Reply