Tag Archives: Kirk Douglas

More from actor Kirk Douglas about being Jewish

We hope you’ve all seen our exclusive interview with actor Kirk Douglas in the September/October issue of Moment in which he talks with his rabbi, David Wolpe.

Moment has published thoughts from Douglas before. Back in 1995 we published a (slightly adapted) speech that he had previously given to the Los Angeles Synagogue for the Performing Arts. From the Moment archives, the article follows…

When I was a poor kid growing up in Amsterdam, New York, I was pretty good in cheder, so the Jews of our community thought they would do a wonderful thing and collect enough money to send me to a yeshiva to become a rabbi. It scared the hell out of me, because I didn’t want to become a rabbi. I wanted to be an actor. Believe me, the members of the Sons of Israel synagogue were persistent.

I had to work hard to get out of it. But it took me a long time to learn that you don’t have to be a rabbi to be a Jew. You see, I got frightened at age 14 by the story of Abraham and Isaac. I remember the picture in my Hebrew school book. Abraham with a long beard. In one outstretched hand, holding a large knife, in the other—a frightened little boy. And that kid looked an awful lot like me. A hovering angel was having a hard time restraining Abraham. How could the angel convince Abraham that G-D was only testing him? Some test! That picture stayed in my mind for a long time as I drifted away from Judaism. I grew up, went to college, but my Judaism stayed stuck in a 14-year-old boy’s Hebrew school book. Continue reading