27 December 2007

Zap! Pow! Bam! - Jewish superheroes in Miami

How do we know Superman is Jewish? A short 1940 comic-book story in Look magazine detailed this fact.

Miami's Jewish Museum of Florida is hosting an exhibit on the Jewish roots of comic book heroes, which qualifies it for inclusion in a Jewish genealogy blog!

Superman first appeared in 1938, created by Jewish boys from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

It was 1940 and the Jews were dying. Shot down on cobblestone streets, starved in barbed-wire enclosures, frozen in winter snows, racked with disease. All seemed lost.

Then, from up in the sky, like a bird, like a plane, came Superman. With ridiculous ease, he captured the tyrants Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. ''I'd like to land a strictly non-Aryan sock on your jaw,'' the Man of Steel told the F├╝hrer. He settled for delivering both men to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Other superheroes were also created by Jewish artists and writers, such as Batman (1939); Capt. America (1940); The Fantastic Four (X-Men, Thor, The Hulk and Spider-Man), reinvented in the 1960s.

A few years ago, the Museum's founder, executive director and chief curator Marcia Jo Zerivitz saw "Zap! Pow! Bam! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books 1938-1950," at The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta.

''When I saw it,'' she says, ''I fell in love with it. First of all, I didn't know that these [characters] were created by Jews. I figured if I didn't know, a lot of other people aren't going to know.'' So she arranged to bring it to South Florida.

Read more here, and see the comic book cover slide show here.

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