Jewish TV? Pass the seltzer!

By Maralyn Lois Polak

If only Yetta, my mother, had lived to see the forthcoming launch of a 24-hour national Jewish TV network – with the motto, “not just news, not just Jews” – she might not have suffered from the crushing depression that made her overmedicated existence all but unbearable as a New Jersey housewife.

I’m sure she’d have been extremely gratified one prospective show will rebut the heinous misconception Jewish men are over-mothered.


Now I can look back at my childhood through the useful prism of mental maturity – thanks, Dr. Briggs! – I realize things just didn’t have to be so … bleak.

The more I see how reality-TV programming permeates nearly every facet of 21st-century life, I wish we could have had our own “Polak Family Network” in our house while I was growing up … moderated, of course, by my secret heartthrob, Jerry Springer. Even back then, I was a budding drama queen /supermarket cashier, itching to spill my “story” to anyone who’d listen …

How I’d gone from Vacation Bible School and clunky orthopedic shoes at age 5 to failed Reformed Jewish congregant to wanting to be the next St. Bernadette, and having a bad crush on my bagger, a pimply Polish-Catholic-Italian baseball star who wanted to be a priest.

How, in high school, I always seemed to like boys with dark hair and glasses like Cary Grant-esque Bobby Silberstein, who eventually married Diana Ross after meeting her while she was shopping for Berry Gordy on Rodeo Drive, and how they eventually split up after taking est and realizing they were finished with the mutual dependency called love. Romance seemed so much simpler then.

Forget what you already may have read about J-TV’s prospective programming lineup. Trust me. Here’s what’s in store, and I don’t mean Woody Allen Film Festivals, although I do love that scene in “New York Stories” where the Jewish mother takes up the whole sky to issue her abysmal but hilariously omniscient pronouncements from on high.

  • “Grepsing 101”: Variations on the almighty belch, unmitigated by seltzer. A team of husky Bubbies (grandmas) practice to out-grepse each other. No kazoos allowed.

  • “The Guilty Party”: Don’t worry about me, I’ll just sit here in the dark all alone eating stale matzos and sipping flat celery soda until you visit again.

  • “Marry-Go-Round”: No one is good enough for my son /daughter to marry. What to do? Five Hebraic yenta-detectives get the dirt on prospective mates, which suggests a spin-off – “Carbon Dating,” a slow, leisurely alternative to that vile Hurry-Date.

  • “Name that Nose-Job”: While homosexuals have gay-dar, many Jews similarly have an intuitive sense who’s had rhinoplasties. Here, we match up surgeons with their end-results and ferret out profiles to die for. No cheating!

  • “Celebrity Confessional”: We revisit all those big Hollywood stars with the perfectly Americanized names and find the true joy of real ethnic roots. No, we don’t mean anyone with two last names like Ashton Kutcher. Or do we?

  • “You WHAT?”: For parents, how to handle the heartbreak of their offspring’s interdating and – shudder – inevitable assimilation among the “goyim.” Christmas rituals for the cross-culturally adventurous. A glossary of arcane sports terms for Jewish intellectuals, like “forward pass.”

  • “Abracadabra – Beyond Kabbalah”: Brisk, lively, spirited call-in contact-your-dead-pet advice show according to these ultra-popular sacred mysteries. John Edward meets John Edwards. Can pets be Jewish? My first dog Froggie was.

  • “Blonde Ambition”: Why is it everyone’s Jewish mother but mine became a middle-age blonde? To get guys? Our learned panelists from university sociology chairs ponder this conundrum. And then Shasta Neeley, “Hair-Color Kween” of the trendy boutique salon “To Dye For,” showcases the latest blonde hair-color upgrades, from “champagne cocktail” to “palomino paloma.”

  • “Torah-Bora”: Five prospective bar-mitzvah boys doing double duty prepping for law school get to debate the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and other idiotic anti-Semitic canards, with the winner starring in the definitive all-Kosher plucked-chicken Hollywood horror movie.

  • “Follow that Crab”: Home entertaining with style – how to keep kosher and be cutting-edge culinary at the same time. A cooking show for those inclined toward traditional dishes from the Bible translated into sheer mouthwatering artistry after our search for a chef who’s “the Jewish Wolfgang Puck.”

Lately I seem to have developed a slight crush on someone who’s “half-and-half.” I hope, if we ever progress beyond shy “hellos,” he understands the love-hate I have for being raised as one of G-d’s so-called “chosen,” and then learning that probably was just a mistranslation.