Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs – who is currently being portrayed by Ashton Kutcher in the biopic “Jobs” — was the biological child of a Syrian-born father and a Swiss-American Catholic mother who gave him up for adoption at birth.
He was raised in northern California by a working-class couple — Paul Reinhold Jobs and his wife, Clara Jobs, an Armenian-American born Clara Hagopian — whom he always regarded as his true parents.
So other than being a really smart, creative, bespectacled, successful businessman with a vaguely Middle Eastern countenance and a man-crush on Bob Dylan, there was nothing overtly or suggestively Jewish about Steve Jobs.
That being said, there were and are some affinities between Jobs and his company, Apple, and Judaism – enough to suggest that in the game of Jew vs. non-Jew, it was Apple and Jobs that came out looking a lot more Jewish than their arch-rivals: Microsoft and William Henry “Bill” Gates III.
Scratch an American Buddhist, find a Jew. Steve Jobs, who thought of himself as a Buddhist and was an ardent vegetarian beginning in college, was the exception that proved the rule.
Steve Jobs’ erratic behavior as a CEO, however, was unlike anyone’s idea of a Buddhist. In his stubbornness, self-righteousness, impatience, and inability to suffer fools gladly, his character was much more that of a cranky Old Testament prophet than a Buddhist monk.
Engineers typically build products and then designers work with what they have built to turn them into usable consumer items. Apple reversed this process – designers conceived objects of beauty, imagined what they could do, and engineers then had to make them work within the parameters set by the designers. This is not wholly unlike the challenge that was set by God to Moses through the work of the craftsman Bezalel, when He gave him very specific instructions for the construction of the mishkan, or the tabernacle that was to house the original Torah and Ten Commandments. Make it this way, He said, or don’t make it at all.
It has also been suggested that in Steve Jobs’ emphasis on form over function – on the precedence of design over engineering, of beauty over efficiency – his philosophy was a latter-day version of the Jewish concept of hiddur mitzvah, or beautification of the good deed. This theory is often suggested by Jews looking for some religious justification for owning every product Apple ever manufactured.