Here at JOI we’re a little obsessive about pointing out Jewish themes in mainstream culture. But we can’t help it. We know the incredible potential it has to reach people that are not otherwise engaged in the community. Last week’s New York Jewish Week has an article about the latest example of this phenomenon. It seems even soap operas are not immune from serving as potential outreach vehicles.
Turns out the long-running character Brad Carlton on CBS’s “The Young and The Restless” is really George Kaplan, “the son of a Holocaust survivor who changed his name because someone is after him and his mother.” Um, okay…
Stephanie Sloane, editor of Soap Opera Digest and a 16-year veteran of the industry, says she has never heard of such a story arc on a soap. “Judaism is not often addressed in daytime [programming]. … I think it opens the door to a lot of potentially interesting information for people who may not have delved deeply into the Holocaust and know little about Judaism.”
And that includes unaffiliated Jews who happen to be watching. Anything can spark a Jewish journey, as the second half of the article demonstrates by discussing the route to engagement taken by “the ruggedly handsome” Don Diamont, the actor who plays Carlton/Kaplan on the show. We look forward to seeing more such potential catalysts in our (formerly mindless) entertainment!