Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Identification:You Don't Have To Be A Jew To Be "Jewish"

On June 29, 1956, Marilyn Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller, whom she first met in 1950, in a civil ceremony in White Plains, New York. City Court Judge Seymour Robinowitz presided over the hushed ceremony in the law office of Sam Slavitt (the wedding had been kept secret from both the press and the public). Monroe and Miller wed again two days later in a Jewish ceremony before a small group of guests. Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg, a Reform rabbi at Congregation Mishkan Israel, presided over the ceremony. Their nuptials were celebrated at the home of Miller's literary agent, Kay Brown, in Westchester County, NY. Some 30 friends and relatives attended the hastily arranged party. In reflecting on his courtship of Monroe, Miller wrote, "She was a whirling light to me then, all paradox and enticing mystery, street-tough one moment, then lifted by a lyrical and poetic sensitivity that few retain past early adolescence." Nominally raised as a Christian, she converted to Judaism before marrying Miller. It was her decision to marry in a Jewish ceremony.

Marilyn embraced family life, becoming quite close to her in-laws, Isidore and Augusta Miller. She referred to them as "Mom" and "Dad" almost immediately. Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe divorced in 1961. Marilyn would remain close to her father-in-law until her death in 1962, visiting him on occasion and asking him to escort her to important functions.

I once read that when Marilyn Monroe was in the process of converting to the Jewish religion, Arthur Miller's mother, Augusta, asked Marilyn why she was so enthusiastic about becoming a Jew.  Augusta Miller said, "Arthur was never a practicing Jew.  He has no interest in the Jewish religion.  Why are you so interested in having a Jewish wedding?"

Marilyn replied: "The Jews have been persecuted throughout their history.  So have I."

Likewise, I would say, you don't have to be black to have the soul of a black man.

2 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

Support health care reform!

Gary Freedman said...

One Monroe biography "uncovers evidence that suggests that, beginning in her late teens, Monroe heard voices and believed she was being followed."

Note the distinction between "evidence that proves" and "evidence that suggests that."

I love the fact that Anna Freud, based on the reports of Monroe's psychoanalyst -- the famed Ralph Greenson -- concluded that Monroe had paranoid schizophrenia. Then Anna Freud proceeded to have Greenson persaude Monroe to bequeath a large sum of money to the Anna Freud Centre in London. Talk about undue influence and exploitation. It's true what they say: sometimes paranoid people are, in fact, persecuted.

The Freuds were real operators!