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Unequivocal proof that superheroes were Jewish: An unprecedented exhibition will open in New York | Israel Hayom

2023-08-29T09:42:08.932Z

Highlights: For the first time, the exhibition will deal with the history of superheroes and present proof of their Jewishness. Among the exhibits: the cover of Captain America who beat Hitler and a comic written by a Jewish woman in a concentration camp. Rare items that have never been seen in public will be on display, such as an original Captain America illustration. The exhibition will be open to the public for three months, and is expected to attract people from the comic book industry and celebrities from around the world.


For the first time, the exhibition will deal with the history of superheroes and present proof of their Jewishness • Among the exhibits: the cover of Captain America who beat Hitler and caused a huge storm in the United States and a comic written by a Jewish woman in a concentration camp • Roy Schwartz, author of the book "Was Superman circumcised?", who serves as curator at the exhibition: "Superheroes are a Jewish invention - and this is what we want to show in the exhibition"


This November, the Center for Jewish History in New York is expected to open an unprecedented exhibition on Jewish comics. The exhibition will present various aspects of Jewish comic book creation throughout history, proving unequivocally that the superheroes were Jewish.

Roy Schwartz, who two years ago published a thick book titled "Was Superman Circumcised?" that received much attention in the United States and Israel, is one of the curators of the exhibition, which is actually divided into five different exhibitions. He also writes for CNN and The Jewish Forward about popular culture, with an emphasis on the Jewish angle.

"This is the first time that there is such a comprehensive exhibition examining the connection between Judaism and comics," Schwartz explains. "The exhibition consists of five sub-exhibitions, each examining a different aspect of the subject. Rare items that have never been seen in public will be on display, such as an original Captain America illustration that has been preserved in the private collection of the artists' grandchildren to this day."

Roy Schwartz. "Captain America was created by Jewish artists, and they expressed their strong opinion against the Nazis and called for action."

The history of comics and superheroes has a direct connection to Judaism, not only in the skullcap-wearing heroes who go to synagogue, as has been evident in recent years, but also in the use of folklore and even Jewish agendas.

"Comics are a Jewish invention and superheroes are a Jewish invention, and that's what we want to show in this exhibition, which follows the fascinating history of superheroes. We examine the representation of Jews in comics both as they are today, with a kippah and a synagogue, and in the past, superheroes who were used for propaganda against the Nazis and incorporated Jewish folklore."

Schwartz recounts another fascinating example from 1940, when the cover of a Captain America comic book shows the hero beating Hitler. "It was a very bold statement for the time, when most Americans opposed going to war against Germany. Captain America was created by Jewish artists, and they expressed their strong opinion against the Nazis and called for action, despite the personal risk involved."

The Jewish creators beat Hitler with their superheroes,

"Following the publication, the filmmakers received death threats, and were backed up by the mayor at the time, Fiorello La Guardia, who was Jewish even though they didn't know it about him, who said he liked what they did and stationed police officers in Marvel's offices. This is yet another example of the important role Jews played in shaping the image of superheroes as fighters for justice and freedom," Schwartz added.

Schwartz adds that there are quite a few other rare items that will be displayed in the exhibition, such as a comic book illustrated by a Jewish woman in a concentration camp, and an original story about Superman written by its creators in 1933, years before Superman was officially presented to the world. "We intend to introduce the comic 'The Reign of Superman,' the original version of Superman written by its two creators, who were 17 at the time, five years before Superman came into the world."

"We have a comic that has been forgotten over time, written and illustrated by Liesl Felstein, while she was in a concentration camp. She created a book in which she told with a lot of humor about daily life in the concentration camp. You can see the power of the illustrations, which include a contrast between the humorous cartoons and the content – the horrors and banality of evil."

"Capture a historical moment in Jewish comics"

Schwartz says that behind the new exhibition is Dr. Miriam Mora, and although the exhibition will include rare details, the initiators made sure to leave it entertaining and suitable for the whole family. Thus, in the exhibition there will be an opportunity to dress up as a superhero and create a superhero yourself. The exhibition will also include a glittering event in which industry and comics people will participate, including apparently guests from Israel.

According to Schwartz, "The purpose of the exhibition is to show the close connection between Judaism and comics, from the use of comics as a propaganda tool against the Nazis, to representations of Jews and Jewish motifs in contemporary comics."
The exhibition will be open to the public for three months, and is expected to attract people from the comic book industry and celebrities from Israel and around the world.

"This initiative aims to capture a historic moment in Jewish comics," said Dr. Miriam Mora, director of academic and public programs at the Jewish History Museum and co-creator of the new exhibition, JewCE. "Recognizing the Jewish roots of comics and the introduction of Jewish diversity into comics and popular culture has enormous potential for increasing awareness and understanding of Jewish life, and there is no better remedy for anti-Semitism and fear of 'the other' than education and understanding."

Photo credits in the article - from the exhibition:
Señorita Rio, Fight Comics #40, October 1945. Fiction House. Cover by Lily Renée.
Captain America Comics #1, March 1941. Timely Comics (Marvel). By Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Captain America Comics #46, April 1945. Timely Comics (Marvel). Cover by Alex Schomburg. While the American press often downplayed the Holocaust, the cover showed inmates marched at gunpoint to giant ovens, human remains sticking out the ashes.
"Superman" B-17 Flying Fortress and Douglas C-47, 1943. U.S. Air Force.
Action Comics #59, April 1943. National Allied Publications (DC Comics). Cover by Jack Burnley.
Superman #17, July-August 1942. National Allied Publications (DC Comics). Cover by Fred Ray.
"The Reign of the Superman," Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization #3, January 1933. Written by Jerry Siegel and illustrated by Joe Shuster.

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Source: israelhayom

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