Chag Star Wars sameach!
If you know Craig Nudelman or Adam Rosman, they are most likely to greet you with the following on 4 May: “May the fourth be with you!” Because while it may be Yom Ha’atzmaut, it’s also known as Star Wars Day.
Since their childhood, Nudelman and Rosman have been two of millions of passionate fans of this American epic space-opera multimedia franchise.
When Rosman was studying at university, he would commemorate Star Wars Day by organising screenings and watching some of the films. Since then, this Johannesburg-based engineer hasn’t done much to celebrate the day.
The same can be said for Nudelman. “I just maybe post something on social media, but I can’t say that I go out and do some cosplay or anything like that. I don’t go out of my way to make it an official chag,” says the Cape Town-based programme and development manager at the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies.
Whereas Rosman watched Stars Wars on VHS (video home system) as a youngster, Nudelman first encountered the show when his mom took him to a video shop as a seven-year-old.
“I just happened to pick up the first video that looked cool and it happened to be Star Wars,” recalls Nudelman, also the director of Mother City Jewish Tours. “I just watched it over and over again. Then I saw there was a second one, so I watched that, and then a third one, and I watched that. I was hooked.”
What appeals to Nudelman about Star Wars is world creation. “I’m a big fan of fantasy, JRR Tolkien, Robert Jordan with The Wheel of Time. It’s fascinating how different places, people, and cultures are created,” he says. “There’s this amazing diversity and everyone kind of gets along, but also the battle between good and evil appeals to me. The heroism and the music. I mean, John Williams’ scores are also something amazing.”
When Nudelman’s six-year-old daughter was about four and a half, he told her, “We’re watching Star Wars.” She became obsessed with the show and its music.
Rosman says that when he has children, they are going to have no choice but to watch Star Wars.
He likes the clear-cut good-versus-evil storyline in Star Wars. “Plus, I suppose the sort of space and Western angles appeal to everyone’s inner child. It has that cool sci-fi effect. You get to enjoy it every single time, even when you know what’s going to happen. Then, there are all the offshoots, all the various animated series and all those sorts of things, which are great, but I don’t think you can beat the originals.”
When the latest sequel trilogy came out, Nudelman not only watched it with his wife, but also went with his friends to see it on IMAX.
He believes watching the show should feel like a special occasion. “You make it special. To watch it is a privilege almost. The new series are just added treats. The films, especially A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, are to be enjoyed and appreciated like special occasions.”
The Jewish connection to Star Wars
Israeli-born American Jewish actress, Natalie Portman, stars in the trilogy of Star Wars prequels as Queen Amidala, the secret wife of Anakin Skywalker and the mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.
Jewish screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote four Star Wars films.
Darth Vader’s chest box has some Hebrew letters written upside down. According to those who have closely analysed the three lines of text, it comes from Exodus 16 about repentance.
Born to Jewish parents, JJ (Jeffrey Jacob) Abrams wrote and produced two Stars Wars films. Not only does he claim to be “the most nebbishy Jewish director ever”, but he told Jewish Journal in 2009 that he’s “very proud of his heritage”. Although his family is interfaith, with Abrams’ wife being an Irish Catholic, he takes his children to high holy day services.
Harrison Ford, who portrays Han Solo in three Star Wars films, is half Jewish. Not only were his maternal grandparents Jewish immigrants from Belarus, but he said the following in August 2000: “As a man, I’ve always felt Irish. As an actor, I’ve always felt Jewish.”
The late Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in Star Wars, was raised Protestant. However, her paternal grandparents were Russian-Jewish immigrants and her father was the late Jewish American singer and actor, Eddie Fisher. She attended Jewish services with Jewish Orthodox friends, even though she described herself as an “enthusiastic agnostic who would be happy to be shown that there is a G-d”.
The first exclusive pictures from the Star Wars set were taken by Jewish photographer Annie Leibowitz for Vanity Fair.
Yoda was voiced by the late, half Jewish actor, Frank Oz, real name Oznowicz. Some believe Yoda is an abbreviated form of the Hebrew yo-dei-ah, meaning wise or knowledgeable.