Big Jewish Face?Emma Rosenblum at NewYork Magazine recently got to hang out with and profile the dreamy host of the Discovery Channel’s Digging for the Truth show, Josh Bernstein. Emma’s assignment was to go on a New York adventure with Bernstein, a New York native (and one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive in 2007) who usually traipses through remote ancient temples and rain forests on his show. Offered the opportunity to go kayaking on the Hackensack River, she instead chose to go on a tour of the Museum of Natural History (maybe they should have gotten Amber Sutherland to cover this story?).

I notice that it’s hard not to pay attention to Bernstein… With his suntan, scruff, and very white teeth, he achieves that perfect cable-TV balance between Everyman and Brad Pitt. He also has, as one of my friends describes it, that Big Jewish Face: defined features with an actual nose, not a Hollywood button. It’s a look that’s attracted an avid female fan base of a certain type. A blog called Jewlicious named Bernstein its inaugural Single Semite of the Month… As we stand under the iconic life-size hanging whale, I ask Bernstein about his Daily Show appearance last year, in which Jon Stewart teased him about being a New York Jew who also likes hard-core adventure travel. (“Are you sure you’re a Jew?” Stewart joked.) “Yeah, I didn’t really want him to go there, but it’s not like I could stop him,” Bernstein says. I ask him why he cares. He is a Jew, after all. He even spent a year in Israel after college and contemplated becoming a rabbi. “You know, my religion isn’t part of my job,” he says.

That’s true – but with a name like Josh Bernstein, one’s Judaism is out there for the whole world to see. perhaps Josh should have chosen a nom de guerre like, I dunno, Brandon Armstrong. Then his “Big Jewish Face” would only hint at the possibility of Jewishness. Brandon’s… I mean Josh’s new show, Into the Unknown, “a sexed-up version of Digging in which Bernstein travels through exotic countries, dresses up like a gladiator, and frolics with killer elephants” is sure to have a rabid female following. Comments on New York Magazine’s Web site like “I would totally convert for this hunk of man” with their fetishization of the Jewish male make me uncomfortable, but ladies? Bernstein is 37, single and is looking forward to settling down.

Make of that what you will. Read the article on New York Magazine’s Web site or pick up the latest copy at your news stand!

Follow me

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

34 Comments

  • OMG! How did this guy fall under my radar! “Digging for the truth” is my new favorite show! Although those non-Jewish (but seem like they are) Kratt Brothers still do it for me (I guess cause there’s two of them?!)http://www.krattbrothers.com/

    Let’s please keep this guy away from the dirty white shirt, filthy tzitzis, grubby black suit, old shoes and unshaven mess of hair on the face that is all the fashion rage in my town. I’d rather see him marry a shiksa than wind-up looking like that.

    Hey, I kept my “love thy neighbor pledge” for how many days after Tisha B’Av?

  • OMG…new show where he dresses like a gladiator?!? Can they put him in the fireman, policeman, indian headress and tool belt outfits too? That would do wonders for my sex life! Hope they don’t forget the Army fatiques in one episode.

  • The one who should have been asked if he’s sure he’s a Jew is Jon Stewart – ne LEIBOWITZ!!!

    Not much concealing going on with the guy who doesn’t have a problem being “openly” known as Josh Bernstein.

  • duh…Jon Stewart never hid the fact that he’s jewish, he just needed a more fun stage name.

  • Chutzpah, methinks somebody’s got complexes. 🙂

    It was Stewart’s right and choice to choose a name that he possibly figured would benefit him in some way even if only it were for the sake of making for no ambiguities in pronunciation (as many German or other Continental European last names in the US get pronounced in a heavily Anglicized way).

    Anyhow, it’s good to see that Muffti isn’t the only handsome and smart Yid out there. Philosophy leaves your fingernails clean though. 🙂

  • Is there a term for someone whose complexes include an obsession with arcane and irrelevant linguistic details?

    What’s the current state of linguistic research on how much more “fun” Stewart sounds to German ears than to American ears? Stewart is a pretty bland name. Or is being responsive to what was actually said something that you consider to be indicative of a “complex”? I don’t consider being in possession of reading comprehension skills to be a psychological problem, fraulein, but perhaps that’s just me.

    Rather than changing the subject to one of rights and choices, we could always stick to the topic. The neurotic way in which Stewart obsesses on Jewish identity (as Bernstein notes) often goes beyond humorous and hints at a motivation for something other than a need for clear pronunciation behind his name change. Something that he compensates for with every nightly snarky joke he makes about Jewish and every other sort of identity. That’s his “right and choice” to do that as well, even if it’s not the point. But excuse me for actually focusing on what was stated in the post and the comments in response to it.

  • MUL, oyish, need you always refer any line I write to yourself?
    The montanacentric worldview has never really been en vogue.

    And if you care to ponder about it, I haven’t said that Stewart’s actual name sounds strange to German ears, but merely that German or other Continental European last names in the US get pronounced in a heavily Anglicized way. I also indicated that Stewart possibly might have opted for a last name that would leave no confusion as to pronunciation. So much for reading comprehension skills. Since English pronunciation is irregular, there is no guarantee that even with an Anglicized version on their tongue, all people will likely pronounce his actual last name the same. Last names do matter in show biz though where names function like brand names.

    You might also want to read up a bit on Jewish humour, its characteristic traits, its development and its sociology in fact books dedicated to this very topic and its very facets. A thorough yet brief introduction can be found in: Jüdischer Almanach des Leo-Baeck-Instituts 2005/5419, Humor. Berlin 2004.

  • No, I need not always refer any line you write to myself, and this wasn’t what I was doing. Nor did I feel a need to avoid responses to what Chutzpah and Bernstein actually said, however. (And I mean this in relation to names being fun and religion being a more distracting diversion when it comes to interviews with a historian/reporter about his day job as opposed to interviews with self-deprecating politicians or Stewart’s other usual schtick du jour, respectively).

    But believe it or not I actually do have a sense of humor and sincerely appreciate your efforts to contribute to my continuing edification. If I can’t pick up the actual book you recommend I’ll make sure to find a copy of Cliff’s Notes on it.

  • Anyone who’d change his/her surname to ‘pass’ has got serious self-esteem, not to say self-hatred, issues.

    However, if anyone on this site wants that extra edge in climbing the greasy pole of secular culture– go ahead, feel free to use Morrissey. You’ll go far– everyone will love and accept you and invite you to those exclusive Christmas parties!

  • Tom, I’d change my last name to “Morrissey” if it weren’t for the resulting initials. 🙂

    MUL, just to clarify (and I probably disagree with many on this), I don’t consider Stewart particularly funny, but the essays in the book will give you a good idea of that his branch of humour is not uncommon in the light of “traditional” Jewish humour.

    That said, when I was small, I wanted to become an archaeologist or a speleologist, but then I grew up to be a professional pain in the tuches. Suppose I’ll never get interviewed either. 🙂

  • I actually don’t find Stewart all that funny either, Froylein. But I respect his niche and the kind of humor his audience is attracted to. If anything, Colbert’s brand of dead-pan satire is much more up my alley.

    But I think there was confusion on Chutzpah’s point. When he said a “fun stage name”, I’m almost positive he was referring to Stewart’s (reborn) name – (which is bland to American ears), not his brand of humor. Perhaps I misread that, though.

    If anything, a change as unobvious as Leibowitz to Stewart is what’s funny. At least try to make it sound like something recognizably similar. And aren’t name changes for stage purposes more of a 1930s thing anyway?

  • No I wasn’t. I’m not aware that I knew you in real life. But I would have assumed that was the case anyway – (that you don’t go by “Froylein” outside of Jewlicious).

    Pseudonyms in cyberspace are different from stage names, wouldn’t you say? I wouldn’t imagine a television personality going by “Froylein” either! 😉

  • I see! By “complex” you were referring to gladiators and the cast of YMCA. My apologies. I skimmed through that part. ;-(

  • ESTHER— help me out here…they are dissing Jon Stewart! Stuart was Mr. Liebowitz’s middle name.

    MUL, so I guess you have a problem with all celebrities both Jews and non-Jews, who have stage names for WHATEVA reason? Many of theses reasons have nothing to do with self-esteem, religion, self-hatred, or trying to “pass”. They call it “show business” for a reason.

    As to my “complexes” , I prefer to call them “issues” and yeah, everyone’s got some. Yes…a man in a hard hat and toolbelt turns me on, ditto for the Indiana Jones look. As for Doctor scrubs, not so much, too Jewish.

    Now where did I put my son’s Zaboomafoom video’s…

  • I guess you could say that, Chutzpah. I suppose the fact that it’s his middle name makes the transition seem a little less ridiculously funny, but still, why every multi-cultural reference for which his show is well-known, (from the commonplace to the obscure and everything in between), wouldn’t cut into his business, but his name would, is something I guess I’m going to have to remain a bit obtusely contrarian on. If you turned the tables on Stewart – the way Bernstein starts to – and bantered on about his name change – among other things, I suspect he would go past his typical smirky giggles and start cracking up as even he wouldn’t be able to deny how silly it is that the conventional wisdom influenced his name change… or transposition (perhaps Liebowitz is now his middle name). Especially from one as “Jewy” (as Liebowitz himself would say) as Liebowitz to Stewart.

  • I made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh 5 years ago and found the conference very interesting (I watched on-line) with the other 1000 people that couldn’t make it.

    I think blogging is a great way for people to connect, share their experience and help others. I personally began privately writing about myAliyah experience over 2 years ago for personal reasons and only recently began publishing. I was thrilled to hear that others were receptive to my writing style.

    Keep up the Jewish Blogging!

    http://aliyahsurvivalblog.wordpress.com/

    Jessica – The Aliyah Survivor

  • Leibowitz is a comedian…he needs an easy name…get over it.

    Bernstein, he’s a young hot sexy guy doing young hot sexy adventurous stuff. You could call him “Allen Stewart Konigsberg” and he’d still be a young hot sexy guy doing young hot sexyy adventurous stuff.

  • Well, considering that his wife’s maiden name is McShane and he legally changed his name to Stewart, thereby deep-sixing the Liebowitz, I would assume there is more going on here than just taking a stage name that is less “Jewy”.

    My guess is he’s got Issues.

    But what Jew doesn’t?

  • Fuck the Jews…if God destroys them it’s their own damn fault. I’m finished. Too much infighting, too much hypocrisy, not enough hot men. Happy New Year to all…I’m done. Really.

  • Chutzpah, calm down. You’re sounding mighty negative recently and I don’t think it’s the Jews’ fault. I say this in the nicest way possible, but maybe you need to speak to somebody because you sound depressed to me.

  • Well, everything I’ve seen indicates that there’s no shortage of Jewish or gentile women (or gay men, for that matter) who find the oddly-named Sacha Baron Cohen attractive… or funny. But then again, he’s British. All three of which (along with having more intelligence and talent than Liebowitz will ever have) might have impacted his ability to think outside of the rigid, boxlike assumptions of American showbiz and attain every bit of success that he has.

    Although I’ll not underestimate the self-destructive capacity of Jewish neuroses, I’ll also not underestimate the idiotic assumptions bred of lackadaisically American ways of thinking. And Stewart’s got both things going for him. So make sure to tell his country to fuck off too!

  • Oy, Chutzpaleh, cheer up. I didn’t refer to you above. Everybody’s got their likes and dislikes. Some demographic’s views should not discourage you from liking what you like or being what you are. It’s perfectly legal afterall and none of their effing business. Care to meet up next time I’m in NYC?

  • Back to the original post: while ck’s attachment to family values would make his bubbe and rabbi proud, why should we assume a good-looking young dude with a TV program’s “looking to settle down”?

    That’s for the fortysomething schmiel with bad teeth who lives in his mom’s basement.

  • Thanks, actually I’m not down. I won $40 purchasing my FIRST EVER lottery ticket today. TJ is releasing a new CD October 21st and my new job in the City is fantastic.

    However, my Kollelnick Landlord had my Orthodox downstairs neighbors harrass me out out of my apartment because the “THE” Yeshiva Ketana wants to put a parking lot here and this is the only building the Yeshiva hasn’t purchased yet. ..little things like stealing my doorbell, throwing chocolate milk at my mailbox and putting my laundry in a pile of oil in the basement….then I hear her on the cordless phone outside my window bragging about what a “huge chessed” she did for “the community”. My Ex’s very frum wife screams at my children every time they take an apple from the refrigerator without asking. Finally, every man on Jdate over 50 is looking for women in the 25-35 year old age range.

    I’m moving out of the Plifton eruv and if my kids are getting tortured by their stepmother on Shabbat they will have to take a cab to get to me and chalk it up to “pichach nefesh”. I never want to see another Orthodox Jew again as long as I live.

    The secular ones haven’t impressed me much lately either. My last employer was [names edited by tm]of NJ. He declared bankruptcy and now I have to fight for back wages he owes me but used to take luxury vacations to Dubai instead of using them for Research.

    They don’t make Jewish men like my Grandfather, Father, Uncle, Cousins and Brothers anymore. There is really nothing nice left to say about the Jews other than they put out some funny, informative and entertaining blogs.

    I don’t know what to do with the part of my identity that is so intrinsically tied to Judaism, the love I feel for The Creator of the Universe, or the pride I feel for the accomplishments the Jews have made with the State of Israel, but I need to throw the baby out with the bathwater for now.

    Too many have suffered too much for too long in the name of religion. Fuck it.

  • Mr. Bernstein has been single for so long, is that normal for a Jewish man of his age/37? And what about sex? He’s got a HUGE fan base of women (water, water), but it doesn’t seem as though he has partaking in the feast. Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink!

    ED

  • Sorry, ladies. I used to like him untill he got too bitchy and arrogant. I guess it is barely tolerable in a blonde wearing one of those ridiculous red-soled shoes, but in a man? No way. If he were alive today I’d take fat and ugly Leva Zadov any time over Josh, thank you.

Leave a Comment