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  3. Monday, 05 August 2019
I was reading through the comments on the News page when something I saw really sparked a fire in me. To comply with the requests of keeping certain things off the front page and for a measure of civility, mostly, because I know it was most likely not intended the way I initially interpreted it, I decided to put my post here instead. The response was to the announcement that Kane is confirmed to be a Jew. Please note, I am trying to have a civil discourse about this and am not trying to attack anyone or try to start a religious debate. It does leave me wondering, exactly how much is TOO much when it comes to religious or cultural depiction?

“Having a religious/ethnic identity on TV may be a touch tricky, but if it is handled properly, it should be enjoyable.”

As a Jew, I really don’t see the problem if they did choose a way to emphasize Kane’s Jewish connections, like, at all. They have shown several instances of people in Superhero land, both DC and Marvel, where religious iconography was prevalent. Marvel’s Nightcrawler was a Monk and was depicted as a devout practitioner in the movies. Daredevil is a Roman Catholic and is portrayed in a confessional in the TV/Netflix series. Captain America uttered the line “There’s only one God..” in the Avenger’s movie depicting his faith. Archangel was an Episcopal Christian and his attachment to the Abrahamic idealogies surrounding Angels is not only in his appearance but his name. Ghost Rider is the Angel of Vengeance. Constantine is literally a Demon Hunter and is depicted on DC Legends regularly. Magneto is Jewish and was depicted on screen not only as having suffered through the holocaust but the treatment and threat of being placed into a similar situation with the Mutant Registry driving his motivations further into his story line. Thor, Loki, Odin are all depictions of Norse Gods. Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus, a Greek God. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, straight out of Revelations, was Gambit as Death, Polaris as Pestilence, Sunfire as Famine, and Gazer as War.

Religious depiction in comics has always been there. It is a source of story lines, motivations, morals, ethics and cultures for comics because they are the sources for real life human beings. These are what makes our superheroes heroes. They are people, who may have started just like us, who have a chance to do something to change their circumstances in the world. It doesn’t means they stop being human (or humanish depending on the character) and being influenced by their culture, religions and upbringings. Kane’s Jewish background has always been subtle in the comic. They mention the High Holidays here, a menorah or Kabbalah Tree of Life there, nothing like get up and wrap Tefillin. And, even if Kane did, it would be no different then Nightcrawler gripping Rosary Beads and praying depicted several times in X-Men.

If we go out of the realm of just the DC Marvel area for a minute, because there were lots of other references in both comic series I haven’t illustrated, and look at popular movies and TV series, you have shows like Supernatural, Lucifer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, that all pull heavily from these kinds of religious influences, all of them are highly successful shows. Krusty the Clown on the Simpsons often wrestles with his Jewish upbringing. Apu has explained varieties of Hinduism. The Simpsons have been on the air 30 years. Heck, Nickelodeons “Rugrats”, from back in the day, had a Pesach (Passover) episode cause the Pickles were Jewish. The brilliant love child of Pratchet and Gaiman, Good Omens, debuted on Amazon Prime and had been hugely successful.

So I have to ask, how much is too much then? How much would the writers have to put in of Kane “being Jewish” before people decided that, despite all the other examples of religious influences and iconography on other shows, it was to much and they weren’t going to watch anymore? I’ve heard similar complaints about Batwoman being a lesbian from the broad scope that is the internet. How much emphasis are the writers allowed to put on Kane’s LGBTQ+ status before it becomes too much? Kate Kane is a lesbian. Kate Kane is a Jew. Both aspects are a part of her which makes her the character she is. Kane left West Point in the comics because she was asked to subdue who she was by denying a part of herself. She left Montoya (Detective Comic Series) because Montoya subdued a part of her. If Kane has showed us nothing about who they are in each subsequent series is that they will not be any less than who they are for anyone. I truly hope the writers continue to honor that spirit.
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Well written! And yeah, your post is better placed here in the forum. Too much for a comment on the front page. ;)
I'm not religious at all, and I think everybody can believe what he/she wants (unless it becomes violent fundalism).
I believe that some weird, intolerent folks are be offended about the fact that she will be portrayed as a jew, but 95% of these folks are already "offended" by the fact that she is a lesbian. :p
So, let them be offended, that won't affect the show.
And especially jews and all other tolerent/normal people will be glad that she is portrayed like in the comics (or won't be offended by it).
I don't think that the portrayal of her religion will have a real impact on the show.
I like the fact that they won't change much in comparison to the comics.
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Bravo! Good, solid reasoning. ;)

My comment on the news page was not intended to be provocative but merely a statement of fact, given that the industry still relies on stereotypes and oftentimes inaccurate depictions of various gender, social, religious or ethnic groups (Jewish identity, people of colour, Muslims, women, LGBTQ, etc.).

All I was driving at was that provided the show doesn't fall into stereotypes or poor depictions, it should be very interesting to see how the sexual affiliation, religious, and cultural aspects are highlighted and whether it enhances or diminishes the overall finished product. Whether it is "too much" or "too little" really is immaterial. It either is or it isn't. (This is for the viewers to choose)

*** Edit: The fact that it was announced by the showrunners as being part of the overall story (i.e. LGBTQ and Jewish) is telling. In most instances, regardless of the film or TV show, these attributes are not normally overtly revealed but simply incorporated into the story in order to allow the viewers to make their own assessments. And, by "overt," I do not indicate this to be negative or diminishing in any way, shape or form.

The fact that Magneto is Jewish, Nightcrawler is a Monk or Wonder Woman is a demi-Goddess from Greek mythology or Superman/Clark Kent attends church on Sunday was not placed front and centre (because through comic and TV/Movie depiction it was made clear within the ongoing story), but in this character's story it appears it will be.

So, my only real curiosity would be as to why they decided to go this route rather than simply let the story unfold naturally, organically, and incorporate the elements without having to proclaim it to the world. Upon viewing the show it should become a given to the viewers and should occur naturally. The showrunners should not need to explain or reveal this in a TCA conference.
"All The Feels" - Fitz And The Tantrums, from the CD/LP/Download All The Feels. (2019)
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https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/08/batwoman-producer-confirms-kate-is-jewish-but-references-in-the-pilot-were-cut/

https://deadline.com/2019/08/batwoman-bat-mitzvah-the-cw-ruby-rose-kate-kane-tca-lgbtq-diversity-1202661092/

The tattoo they put on Kate's right forearm is the Tree of Life isn't it?
You can see it if you click on this first pic:
https://twitter.com/BatwomanBR/status/1157682746971570176

The things I can remember where Kate's religion is referenced in the comics:

  • The 52, Kate and Renee celebrate Hanukkah.
  • Elegy, when Kate gets her batsuit she says "Red and black...Gevurah, the Pillar of Severity...the colors of war.
  • Menorah in her apartment.
  • One of those holidays special comics, Batwoman celebrated Hanukkah.
  • Second solo, in the Lost Year stuff, she gets asked about her tattoos, and there is a mention of kosher.
  • Detective Comics, Tynion run, Gabriel Kane's headstone is shown twice, once when Kate is a child another as an adult.
  • Kate sometimes says a sentence or word in Hebrew, more notable in the second solo run, and seemingly absent from the Tynion 'Tec run.
  • Detective Comics #975, Kate and Bruce at the funeral for Kate's mother.

There would be more, but I can't remember off the top of my head. They should include as much of that stuff as possible if they want to stay true to the character though.
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First, thank you all for your responses. I going to respond a little out of order, though.

Siggi: I think the folx that are upset that she’s a lesbian have never read the comics at all, in which case, I’m none to concerned about their contribution to the fandom. Now don’t get me wrong, I would like to see the fan base grow for what I believe to be an incredible character, which I totally think will for those who have not been inclined to go out and buy comics or get a subscription to the DC Universe, but every super hero character does not have to appeal to every one. I think THAT is the point that those individuals are missing. If every character represented everyone there would be no need for the diversity of super heroes that we have. The fact that diversity exists shows that the diversity of the representation needed exists which is why it’s important to stay true to those characters. Their diversity and persistence in the face of discrimination is why we love them.

Bratty Bat: I see a tree which could be a Tree of Life. There are many variations on the iconography and it’s an extremely prevalent image in Judaism. The Kabbalah tree of Life was above the menorah in her apartment in the Detective series not long after Kane got the new Batwoman outfit from the Colonel. Also, I kind of hope they don’t make Kane Kosher. There are a lot of people who assume every Jew is Kosher, which isn’t the case. Nor is being Kosher a requirement to be Jewish (though I’m sure there are some Orthodox Jews who will disagree with me.) There are also different denominations of Judaism and I don’t think it’s ever been touched on which one Kane would be, however, given the Tattoos and Lesbian lifestyle, I’m leaning to Reform or Reconstructionist. Though with Rose being Vegan, it certainly would be a lot easier on the Actress to mimic Kosher. But the rest of it, yep, I totally hope they place the imagery into the series somewhere.

Romulus: I completely agree with your observations about industry standards and stereotyping. I am disheartened to see that a large scope of media still buys into the old standbys but they are old standbys for a reason, I suppose. I do have hope, however, that we can learn to progress as the industry evolves. “Plus” size models (normal sized people) are appearing more in magazines, more ethnic diversity is being represented in programming, and even same sex couples have been appearing in advertisements as inclusive bites of family portrayals. It’s a slow process, I don’t expect change overnight by any means, but it is progressing. I’m glad that the CW has been moving toward more inclusion with the Arrowverse in general which is chiefly the reason -I- keep watching.

As for going out of their way to announce that, well, I can’t attest to their reasoning, but, maybe it was just assuage the fears of some of the fans who did read the comic book that Kane’s religion wouldn’t be white washed. That the writers recognize that being Jewish is a part of who Kane is and that they weren’t ignoring that especially because the Bat Mitzvah reference was cut. I haven’t seen much in the way saying that the religious aspect will be front and center just that they weren’t sweeping Judaism under the table. If the writers are planning on taking more notes from the comics, as it appears they are, then the integration will be more organic as you mentioned you desired. Most probably in the same ways Bratty Bat outlined in their post.

Lastly, I appreciate you took the time to write a clarifying statement of your intention behind your comment. I look forward to more conversations about this exciting production into the future.
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This article is sort of relevant to the conversation, and so might be of interest:
https://www.thefandomentals.com/trial-batwoman-batman-jewish/

I see a tree which could be a Tree of Life. There are many variations on the iconography and it’s an extremely prevalent image in Judaism. The Kabbalah tree of Life was above the menorah in her apartment in the Detective series not long after Kane got the new Batwoman outfit from the Colonel.

Also, the tree they had her uniform on in Elseworlds, now I come to think of it. I wonder if her apartment will have a big tree in the centre like in the comics too.

Also, I kind of hope they don’t make Kane Kosher. There are a lot of people who assume every Jew is Kosher, which isn’t the case. Nor is being Kosher a requirement to be Jewish (though I’m sure there are some Orthodox Jews who will disagree with me.) There are also different denominations of Judaism and I don’t think it’s ever been touched on which one Kane would be, however, given the Tattoos and Lesbian lifestyle, I’m leaning to Reform or Reconstructionist. Though with Rose being Vegan, it certainly would be a lot easier on the Actress to mimic Kosher. But the rest of it, yep, I totally hope they place the imagery into the series somewhere.

I've attached the panel for context. She doesn't answer, so the show could go either way.
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Bratty Bat: I read through the Batwoman Rebirth Issue 1 again to try and understand the context better. I always took it as Kane talking about the Tattoos and the rumor that they keep Jews out of a Jewish burial ground. Kane follows up with, being a good soldier, they would bury her at sea, so I took this as my confirmation. The provision in Leviticus states that a Jew should not make gashes in their flesh for the dead or any such markings upon themselves which some equated to tattoos. As such, there are those in the community who frown on the practice of tattooing. However, there is no law in Torah that prohibits burial of a Jew with a tattoo nor are they excluded from any of the rights such as Tahara (the ritual body washing) or denied Chevrah Kadishah (watchers who sit with the body after death) and is completely rumor.

As I reread it it could of been implied that the notion that all Jews were Kosher was a rumor too but I’m not certain and am still leaning toward my first inclination. Kosher is observance to the Mizvot (commandments plural) outlined in Torah and taken as an additional opportunity to invite the presence of G-d into an observant Jews life. Different communities can enforce strict observances, some have only partial observances and then some not at all. On top of that, we also have things that are Kosher for Passover which have even stricter guidelines. Rafael’s little joke about it not being Kosher could be a jibe that why would Kane be concerned about being traditionally observant if they were covered in tattoos which, depending on interpretations, would be against the provision in Leviticus. But this is reading way more into a three section panel then the authors probably intended.
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Very informative, thank you.

I was wondering because a few months back I heard (in a podcast), in discussion of the upcoming show, some people saying they didn't like the actor who was cast in the role because all the tattoos didn't make sense for a Jewish character - which I found confusing since Batwoman has always had tattoos in the comics.
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