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Is Elon Musk Jewish?

The billionaire CEO, soon to own Twitter, has a Hebrew name

With the news that Elon Musk is poised to buy Twitter, many are concerned that the South African billionaire will unleash a kraken of unfettered hate speech (or even Trump) on the platform. But some are asking a different question that has a simpler answer: Is Elon Musk Jewish? 

No. Next question.

OK, we’ll indulge this a bit. Elon Musk’s first name is Hebrew. It was the name of one of the biblical judges.

It’s also the name of unincorporated communities in Iowa and Virginia, a North Carolina university and the Kodak trade name for a chemical used to develop black and white photos. None of those –with the exception of Elon U, which boasts a nice-sized Jewish population – strike me as particularly Jew-y. 

As for Musk’s ancestry, a 2012 Forbes profile noted that while Musk’s Christian name means “oak tree” in Hebrew, he is not Jewish, but of Pennsylvania Dutch and British extraction, the scion of a South African engineer-emerald miner father and a model-dietician mother born in Canada. Musk is so un-Jewish, in fact, a row ensued over a play at the Royal Court Theatre in London because an evil billionaire character based on Musk was given the very Jewish name of Hershel Fink.

Musk has attracted the ire of some Jews for likening Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler and once appearing to imply that Jews control the media (a claim he insisted he was not making).  Though he comes from a country with the largest Jewish population in Africa, he really is just not mishpacha, as much as we may have wanted naming ceremonies for his children X AE A-XII and Exa Dark Sideræl.

So, Elon Musk: not a Jew, despite a number of antisemites probably believing him to be based on his supreme wealth and ambitions to run the 21st century commons that is Twitter. Google this question and wonder why it’s such a popular one outside of Jewish spaces.

Still, I would contend there is one parallel – however tenuous — between Musk and the people of the book. Musk once joked on the app he will soon own that he is the real-life version of flame-thrower-toting “Simpsons”  super villain Hank Scorpio, for whom Homer briefly worked in a very good episode from the show’s eighth season. The character of Scorpio, a CEO bent on world domination, is probably not Jewish either, but at least he’s voiced by Albert Brooks.

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