Ramblings of an Ordinary Man

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There’s a story that Charlie Chaplin was once confronted by a question from a journalist about his religion. At the time it was said by many that Chaplin was “secretly Jewish.” Here, the use of the adverb “secretly” passes judgement on the adjective Jewish. Why would the movie star want to hide his faith, if indeed he was Jewish? The implication was that he was ashamed, maybe he thought Judaism was actually something to be feared and hidden away.”Many people believe you are Jewish, are you?” asked the reporter. The icon’s response was as sharp as his genius, “I do not have that good fortune,” he said.

To have answered in the negative, no matter how politely, might have confirmed that there was indeed something malign about Judaism, that needed to be hidden. Perhaps that was the questioner’s intent. However, in one sentence Chaplin had completely disarmed his inquisitor. The…

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